Haiti + 3 more

Hurricane Dennis passes through Caribbean and toward the U.S. Coast

8 July 2005

Cuba: Minor damage is being reported as Hurricane Dennis begins to cross Cuba. The Office of Civil Defense has declared that the provinces of Guantánamo, Holguín y Las Tunas are no longer at risk and that the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Granma are beginning the recovery process. The remaining at risk provinces continue to be on alert, with emergency preparedness measures in place. The Ministry of Health has 13 medical brigades on standby should medical attention by necessary.

Haiti: There have been reports of 5-10 casualties, and significant damage to agriculture, although it is reported that Hurricane Dennis has not caused damage to health infrastructure is in Haiti. Two PAHO staff are participating in an assessment mission of the affected area and will be reporting back over the weekend.

Jamaica: Hurricane Dennis caused severe flooding in the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Andrew and Portland. A reported 2,000 persons have been evacuated from at-risk areas and are being housed in shelters. There is no report of damage to health infrastructure, apart from water leaks in 11 hospitals. Most of the heavy rains and hurricane strength winds lessened overnight and Jamaica has moved to relief and recovery operations.

Cayman Islands: Only strong winds and rain have been reported to date and health infrastructure has not been damaged.

7 July 2005

Dennis became a category III hurricane on July 7 and it is expected to continue on its current path towards the Gulf Coast. High levels of rainfall are expected in Cuba and Jamaica as the hurricane passes near the coasts of both island countries.

In Haiti, Dennis caused severe flooding due to the heavy rains. One casualty has been confirmed as well as several damaged homes and a flooded health center. A PAHO/UNDP team has been dispatched to the affected area to assess damages and needs.

In Jamaica, all government agencies have activated their disaster management plans. National and regional Health Emergency Operations Centers have also been activated. Because this weather system is expected to release a considerable amount of rain, health authorities predict that main problems in the hospitals will be related to leaking roofs and flooding. PAHO will follow up on recommendations made to mitigate damage to critical health facilities in the wake of Hurricane Ivan last September, which battered Jamaica as a category 5 storm.

Flooding is anticipated in the parishes of St. Thomas, Kingston and Clarendon. Kingston's main water source is located in St. Thomas and, as turbidity levels are expected to rise beyond water treatment capabilities, Kingston is likely to experience severe water shortages.

The collection and disposal of solid waste have been suspended, as the landfills are not equipped with all-weather-roads and trucks are sinking into soft ground. The community has been advised to store solid waste in plastic bags and to separate biodegradables from non-biodegradables.