After Irma and Maria – The road to recovery in the Dominican Republic

Yanira, aged 23, and their two daughters, aged five and sevenYanira’s Story

Yanira, aged 23, her husband and their two daughters, aged five and seven, live in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Their house backs on to a river, which flooded the surrounding area during Hurricanes Irma and Maria. When the river rose, the ground fell away under the concrete foundations of their house causing it to crack and a huge hole emerged.

Yanira said: ‘The river flooded through the house. It was at least a metre high. The walls cracked, there is a hole in the floor, which you can see the river through. We need to stay here until we can find a house further from the river, but it’s not safe.’

ShelterBox is working with fellow aid agency Habitat for Humanity to support people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Dominican Republic. ShelterBox are providing the emergency shelter component of this response.

A ShelterKit comprises 2 large, strong tarpaulins plus tools and fixings

ShelterBox provided Yanira and her family with a ShelterKit, containing the materials needed to repair damaged structures and create emergency shelter, such as tarpaulins, tools and fixings. A team, made up of Habitat for Humanity, ShelterBox and local community members, used the kit it to build a temporary shelter from scratch in front of Yanira’s house.

A ShelterBox Response Team member helps construct a shelter

Yanira and her family will stay in this until they find a house further from the river. The team built the temporary shelter for Yanira’s family as a way of exploring, with the community, how the ShetlerKit tools and materials could be used in a way that suited the needs of the community. The shelter will also be supplemented in places, using materials from Yanira and her husband’s old house.

Yanira said: ‘I feel better. I feel safer and more comfortable than what we had before. In the other house, we were too close to the river. I feel afraid of that.’

Milagro’s Story

Milagro is a single mother of three children between the ages of three and 11. Her daughter suffers from chronic sickle-cell anaemia, a serious health condition.

Milagro and her children live in Miches in the Dominican Republic, which was hit badly by Hurricane Maria, a fierce storm that came hot on the heels of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose. Their experience of the hurricane was terrifying.

She said: ‘The wind removed the roof of my house. The river washed through it from one side, and sea rose up from the other, bringing a boat crashing against the back wall, causing a floor-to-ceiling crack in the concrete.’

ShelterBox, Habitat for Humanity and World Vision are working together in Miches to support communities affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In addition to receiving ShelterKits, people in Miches were also given training so that the community could learn about the different items and explore different techniques for using them.

They then did a practical demonstration, where a team made up of Habitat for Humanity, ShelterBox, World Vision and local community members, used a ShelterKit to repair Milagro’s roof, with supplementary pieces of timber.

Milagro said: ‘The repaired roof will change my life a lot because whenever it rained my bed got wet. It was too uncomfortable to stay in that situation.’

‘I’ve learnt so much today. Now I know how to repair my house myself, I am planning to repair the roof in the other rooms as well.

‘I am very happy because I am a part-time cleaner so I wouldn’t have the money to mend my roof without this. But because of the project this is possible.’

ShelterBox continues to help families in the Dominican Republic and other parts of the Caribbean affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria

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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.