ShelterBox working closely with Rotary in the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma

Irma caused devastation on the British Virgin Islands (image courtesy VI Free Press)

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.  

Past President Ryan Geluk of the Rotary Club of Road Town hard at work as ShelterBox hits the ground in the British Virgin Islands.

 

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.

For up to date information, keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

ShelterBox Deploys To Haiti as Hurricane Matthew Pounds The Caribbean

hurricane-matthew

ShelterBox is sending aid and a Response Team to Haiti in the wake of the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade.

ShelterBox already has some aid stored in Haiti and large stocks of aid in Panama, ready to assist during the hurricane season.  With airports closed, some of this aid has already been dispatched from Curacao aboard the Dutch Navy vessel HMNS Holland. The aid includes water filtration equipment which will be vital given the flooding, solar lighting to assist during electricity black outs, blankets, special shelter kits of tools and tarpaulins to help weatherproof damaged buildings.

Operations Team Lead Andrew Clark says, The situation is still very fluid. We are still awaiting an official invitation to respond from the Haitian Government, and clarity on the most effective and safe transport routes. But we are impatient to help the people of Haiti who have yet again faced a terrifying natural disaster.’

The intention is that I will lead an experienced team of nine, some of whom deployed to Haiti following the quake in 2010. At present we expect to be able to mobilise on Friday, but we must await the re-opening of air routes, and the safety of our staff and volunteers is paramount.’

ShelterBox is also standing by to help other countries along Matthew’s expected course.’

There have been a number of deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which together comprise the island of Hispaniola. Death tolls are expected to rise as the extent of damage emerges. In the port town of Les Cayes an estimated 70,000 people were affected by flooding, and many of the area’s insubstantial houses had lost roofs. The UN said that Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was facing the largest humanitarian eventsince the earthquake in 2010.

With advance warnings at least 10,000 people were evacuated to shelters, but the UN has since reported overcrowded hospitals and fresh water shortages, with fears of waterborne disease. An estimated four million children may have been exposed to hurricane damage.

Meteorologists expect Hurricane Matthew to become less forceful as it moves on from Cuba later today, but precautions are being taken already in Florida, the Bahamas, and along the eastern seaboard of the USA. Current tracking indicates the storm may reach Maryland and New Jersey as late as noon on Sunday.    

You can those affected in Haiti and in other countries affected by disaster by donating here:

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Haiti Earthquake Remembered 5 Years On

Dave Eby and Wayne Robinson were among the first to collect the ShelterBoxes as they arrive at Port au Prince airport.

Dave Eby and Wayne Robinson were among the first to collect the ShelterBoxes as they arrive at Port au Prince airport.

On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Haiti and was followed by two aftershocks measuring 5.9 and 5.5 in magnitude.
The earthquake, described as the worst to hit Haiti in centuries, was centered ten miles to the south west of the island’s capital Port-au-Prince and killed more than 250,000 people in all.
ShelterBox responded immediately and by the next day had a team in the country to evaluate the situation.
With an estimated one million people left homeless after the earthquake, the need for emergency shelter was vital and within a week, 1,700 ShelterBoxes had been dispatched, with further 1,6000 being prepared to leave the UK.
The first ShelterBox tents to arrive were used by hospitals in Port-au-Prince to provide shelter for post-surgery patients as well as families with newborn babies and pregnant women.
Throughout 2010, ShelterBox continued to deliver aid to those who had lost everything after the earthquake, including the most remote of communities.
Phil Duloy, ShelterBox operations coordinator and response team member who spent several months in Haiti, said: ‘My favourite work in Haiti involved partnering with other agencies to head into the remote mountainous regions south of Leogane and Grand Goaves, accessible only by donkey and helicopter as we were able to provide shelter for more than 6,000 vulnerable people.’
In this time, more than 40 ShelterBox response members were deployed and around 28,000 boxes were distributed.
Five years after the disaster, ShelterBox is still helping people in Haiti and continues to work with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to help return displaced families to their communities.
With the continuing provision of aid, ShelterBox and IOM have helped to facilitate the return of more than 2,200 families, helping them to move on from the events of 2010.