As our disaster experts monitor Tropical Storm Isaac, which reached the Eastern Caribbean Thursday, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is announcing additional support to help the Caribbean prepare for, and respond to, major storms and hurricanes. The Agency is stockpiling reinforced plastic sheeting in the Caribbean, and training local disaster officials how to use the material to construct safe and secure temporary shelters.
USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is strategically pre-positioning the plastic sheeting in Dominica, as well as in Barbados, where it can be quickly transported to hurricane-affected countries throughout the region.
USAID also funded a one-day workshop in August 2018 on the effective use of the material for representatives of national disaster preparedness agencies from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This supply of plastic sheeting - enough to help an estimated 20,000 people - is supplementing USAID's stockpile of relief items - including emergency shelter materials, blankets, hygiene kits, and water-purification equipment-at USAID's warehouse in Miami, Florida. USAID has also pre-positioned relief items and food commodities in Haiti to ensure emergency supplies are immediately available to help communities in need.
USAID disaster experts based in Washington, D.C., and throughout the region work year-round to help the Caribbean prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the impact of the Atlantic hurricane season.
In Fiscal Year 2018, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance provided $14.5 million to support efforts to reduce the risk of disaster in the Caribbean that are strengthening the region's emergency response capacity and making communities more resilient to disasters and better able to handle their impacts.
In addition, pending Congressional approval, USAID will provide an additional $2 million to help Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts and Nevis -- some of which Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated in 2017 -- with early-warning systems and programs to reduce the risk of disasters to help mitigate the impact of future storms, and make it easier for the countries to recover from them. These efforts support the Caribbean 2020 Strategy, under the U.S.-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 (H.R. 4939), and respond to priorities outlined by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) when they met with Vice President Pence, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, and USAID Administrator Mark Green during 2018's Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru.