Caribbean Hurricane Season OCHA Situation Report No. 17

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 22 Sep 2008
This situation report is based on information received from, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) in the affected countries, the Regional Office in Panama and the National Hurricane Centre. This situation report covers the effects of Hurricanes "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike" in the Caribbean.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Weather forecasts indicate a high probability of a storm forming within the next days, causing concern in the already vulnerable Caribbean region.

- In Haiti, the Flash Appeal was lunched in Port-au-Prince. The Appeal is only 3.4 % funded.

- In Turks and Caicos, most services are being restored and rehabilitation plans are underway.

SITUATION

1. A broad area of low pressure centered near the eastern tip of Hispaniola is causing heavy rains in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands. Weather forecasts indicate a high probability of a storm forming in this area within the next two days. Heavy rainfall is expected, affecting Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southern Bahamas.

2. The vulnerability throughout the Caribbean countries has increased dramatically with another 3 months left before the end of the hurricane season. Only little rain can have serious consequences. The region has been affected since 15 August successively by tropical storm Fay, hurricanes "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike" that claimed in the Caribbean more than 350 lives so far, affecting more than 2.8 million persons and damaging more than 600,000 houses- while assessments are still on going.

HAITI

3. On September 19, the Haiti Flash Appeal was lunched in Port-au-Prince. The ministers of Planning and Education emphasized that all affected departments have to be reached - not just Artibonite, the most affected-, and insisted that the start of the school year is a priority. Hence, school facilities used for shelters have to be vacated, as many schools rebuilt and rehabilitated. Sanitation and environmental projects as well as agricultural projects are essential to support early recovery efforts. Meanwhile, as a tropical depression is expected to bring heavy showers within the next 48 hours, dikes are being reinforced to prevent additional flooding. Authorities expressed great concern.

4. Individual re-housing solutions, voluntary relocation to safer cities, and shutting-down of inadequate shelters to free school facilities are planned by the government. Water levels in Gonaives are decreasing rapidly, enabling access to most areas in town. However mud remains an obstacle and the main roads are now being cleaned. The Direction of Civil Protection (DPC) will put together a cleaning and waste management plan.

5. Since 16 September, the European Commission's Civil Protection Team is on the ground conducting an assessment of the affected bridges in Mirebalais, Miragoane, Ennery and Montrouis. Findings were preliminarily shared with the US, Canada, MINUSTAH and the government, though they will be made available to all interested parties. The MIC requested 200,000 sandbags and a waste management expert in coordination with UNDAC and UNEP/OCHA. MapAction continues to support UNDAC and the humanitarian community at large - two cartographers extended their mission for an additional week.

Food

6. Relief response to date has reached 313,679 persons with 1,470 MT distributed. So far, WFP food distribution was conducted by US helicopters and vessels with an average of 120 MT a day. WFP is scheduled to take over next week through its own helicopters and chartered boats; this task is accounted for in the Flash Appeal to reach Gonaives, the southern and the northern departments. WFP sent a truckload of NFIs to Gonaives on the 19th, however, difficult road conditions are reported and a bulldozer is needed to pull trucks across the river.

7. WFP is planning to establish a permanent office space and warehouse in Gonaives, which should be operational soon: this includes 15 prefabricated offices and 10 rub-halls or mobile warehouses with a total capacity of 300MT each. Overall distribution will become more efficient thanks to a guideline document jointly prepared with partner organizations, identifying distribution points and a plan for targeted food delivery. This reduces the workload on MINUSTAH and ensures the capacity to reach 19,500 beneficiaries per day (starting Monday 22).

Nutrition

8. Partner organizations are carrying-out assessments and missions to evaluate the nutrition situation. Additional logistic support was required by Terre des Hommes to cover the South. Save the Children will conduct an assessment mission in the South-East; the West will be covered jointly by MDM-Suisse and ACF. Other areas will be covered by Concern, while Merlin is currently assessing Nippes. Based on their findings, UNICEF requested the Nutrition cluster to provide an estimate of needs for therapeutic products to facilitate interventions.

Shelter and Non-food Items

9. In Gonaives, the DPC requested 400 kitchen sets to facilitate the food/cash for work dikes repair project. Funding sources for this project are being identified jointly with IOM and WFP agreed to provide food rations for the duration of the project. Over the past days, IOM distributed plastic sheeting to 620 families. Oxfam distributed material for the construction of latrines. Distribution of NFIs is carried-out mostly by Caritas. CARE and religious associations inform that their work was hampered by the current fuel shortages. MAST distributed mattresses in the West and DPC gave 20,000 kits to regional and local committees. A total of 1,320 baby kits will be distributed this week in Cabaret, the South-East and the border cities. UNFPA, jointly with the Ministry of Women's Affairs, is also beginning to hand out condoms. Oxfam focuses also on water and hygiene kits, as well as on single mothers in temporary shelters. IFRC will bring 2 shelter specialists to support the shelter cluster with training on shelter rehabilitation.

Health

10. The health cluster reported that several areas remain to be assessed in the North-West, in the southern coast from Chardonnière, in the Centre and in Nippes. Main findings so far account for the increased need of medical supplies/distribution, the reported damages of healthcare facilities -believed to be minor-, sporadic cases of diarrhoea and malaria -in areas already endemic-, and no documented epidemics. Thus, the response strategy already underway focuses on: standardizing epidemiologic surveillance, operational since 11 September; increasing outreach to uncover areas initiated by MSF and MDM through mobile clinics; establishing the MSF hospital in Gonaives; delivery of medical kits (PAHO/WHO); deployment of UNFPA support in anaesthetists and obstetricians; planning on anti-vector diseases; continued support to epidemiologic and logistic expertise (by PAHO/WHO jointly with health authorities); shipping vaccines and serum for Tetanus; and keeping medical facilities functionning under good operational conditions.

Logistics

11. The WFP logistics cluster in Gonaives focuses on meeting transportation and storage needs. Six commercial trucks were contracted to operate in Gonaives to release the M6s helicopters to other areas in need of assistance that are still inaccessible by other motored vehicles. Partners conveyed procedures and a shared methodology, including compliance to deadlines for timely transportation of their cargo and ensuring fuel provision on the ground.

Water and Sanitation

12. Gonaives is producing safe drinking water amounting to a total of 250 m3. A total of 700 wells were identified and a disinfection program is underway to secure clean drinking water, jointly implemented by ACF, MSF and the Spanish Red Cross. Oxfam took the lead in setting-up latrines. In addition, ACF completed a WASH assessment in Gonaives, which presupposes the establishment of 20 distribution points serviced by two water tankers and the setting-up of four water treatment stations.

Protection

13. The protection cluster identified as a main priority women's security when returning home from food distributions. Cases have been recorded of women being aggressed and robbed. UNDSS, UNPOL and PNH are to prepare a plan of action. Although food will only be given to women, male family members are encouraged to ensure their security while walking home. A team of midwives was deployed to Jacmel to assess the situation and support women in need. Similarly, many non-registered orphanages are requesting assistance but the lack of information is, however, a good opportunity to regulate unregistered orphanages and IBESR/UNICEF will provide assistance in this area

Agriculture

14. An agriculture contingency plan put together by local authorities is underway to address flooded and destroyed crops, lost cattle and livestock.

Road conditions

15. According to MINUSTAH access to the coastal regions of Chardonniere and Les Anglais (South) is still blocked due to a collapsed bridge and flooded river banks. Tiburon, Arniquet, Chantal and Maniche are still inaccessible by road. In Nippes, access to Anse-à-Veau, Arnaud and Petit-Trou is still blocked by a flooded river, and access to L'Azile and Plaisance is blocked by landslides and a broken bridge.

Security

16. The situation remains stable in the city of Gonaives. For security reasons, all organizations were requested to provide a list of all temporary workers on a daily basis in order to implement a system of identification cards and prevent unauthorized access the MINUSTAH compound.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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