Hurricane Irma made landfall on northeast Caribbean islands during the early hours of 6 September, affecting Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, St Barthélemy, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, US Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos. Two million people were exposed to winds in excess of 120 km/h.
Livelihoods, housing and infrastructure in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, the US Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos have been severely affected. 70%-90% of infrastructure has been destroyed on Anguila and Barbuda. 1,600 Barbudans were evacuated to Antigua. 34,000 people have been displaced in Dominican Republic and Haiti alone.
As our Response Teams in the Caribbean monitor the incoming Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Lee, here’s an update of our activities so far:
Antigua and St Kitts and Nevis: 500 ShelterKits have been shipped from Panama with the Red Cross National Societies. 300 ShelterKits are now in Antigua and the remaining 200 have arrived in St Kitts and Nevis. A team is in Antigua and will begin to oversee assessments and form distribution and monitoring plans, once the current storms have tracked through. The team is in close liaison with Rotarians from District 7030 on Antigua.
British Virgin Islands: Team has arrived in Antigua and is currently in hibernation protocol until the next storms pass. ShelterBoxes have arrived in Tortola awaiting the team’s arrival (Transport provided by Virgin Atlantic). The team is liaising, through the District 7020 Disaster Committee, with local Rotarians to work together as assessments are undertaken by team. See attached photo of ShelterBoxes arriving on island.
Dominican Republic: There is an identified gap in emergency shelter so we have signed an agreement to partner with Habitat for Humanity and we’re hoping to provide another 500 ShelterKits from Panama, along with training on how to use them. Habitat for Humanity oversee recovery efforts beyond this emergency phase, ensuring maximum benefit for the families we are helping. A ShelterBox Response Team is due to arrive next week (weather dependent) and has reached out to Rotary District 4060 in advance of their arrival.
Barbados: A Response team is in Barbados to work in the coordination hub there (which includes organisations like DHL Disaster Response Team, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency). We have established a ShelterBox hub on Barbados, to work on the complex logistics of getting aid to the families who desperately need it. The Team is focused on coordinating safety for teams in the region due to inbound storms, as well as logistics and onward transport for aid, given current access constraints and high demand.
The team is also considering further potential response locations and capacity across the region – resources permitting.