Hurricanes sweep through the Caribbean, causing widespread damage

News and Press Release
Originally published
18 July 2005, Vatican City - Caritas Haiti and Caritas Antilles are working to keep the Caritas network informed of damages - and ensuing needs - wrought by hurricanes that have lashed much of the Caribbean during the last two weeks.
Caritas Haiti reported that heavy rains and violent winds brought on by Hurricane Dennis in early July caused deaths, displacement, and huge property losses in various parts of the country, especially in the south. Rivers burst their banks, flooding vast swathes of land, while winds knocked down trees and electricity pylons. Houses, especially those along coastal areas and rivers, were damaged or entirely destroyed, forcing hundreds of people into temporary shelters. The storms also ruined crops and killed livestock, thus threatening livelihoods.

The diocesan Caritas organisations in Haiti have identified needs in the dioceses of Cayes, Jérémie, Jacmel, and Port-au-Prince. Immediate plans are underway to distribute food, clean drinking water, hygiene kits, and kitchen utensils to victims; to help rebuild houses; to provide seeds and financial support; to provide tools for removing debris from roads; and to assist in building up livestock herds.

Hurricane Dennis also wreaked havoc on Cuba, claiming at least ten lives, forcing mass evacuations of people, destroying tens of thousands of homes, and causing significant damage to the country's water and electrical services. Reports indicated that the storms also destroyed thousands of acres of crops. The country's immediate needs include roofing and housing materials, essential food items, hygiene kits, generators, and first aid kits.

Meanwhile, Caritas Antilles reported that Hurricane Emily, a second hurricane to pass through the Caribbean in a matter of days, caused damages to parts of Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. In Tobago, around 40% of the population were without electricity, while several homes sustained damages, and roads were blocked by debris and fallen trees. In Grenada, many homes were damaged or destroyed. Eighty buildings were identified as emergency shelters, of which 45 were used to house around 1,650 people. Structural damage was also reported at some hospitals, police stations, and homes for the elderly.

According to Caritas Antilles, based on information in Grenada and discussions with the National Disaster Coordinator, a Level Two Response has been issued, which means that Grenada can largely cope with the situation using its own resources, but may require some external assistance. Caritas Antilles will keep the Confederation abreast of any further developments.