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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‘Haitians to help Haitians’ priority in hurricane-smashed communities, as ShelterBox plans to aid recovery

Little girl in doorway of flooded house


Haiti is counting the human and physical cost of hurricane Matthew – nearly 900 dead, tens of thousands homeless, cholera taking grip. But these disaster-prone communities are resilient, and a team from ShelterBox finds a new ‘self help’ ethos as it makes its partnership aid plans.

‘My house wasn’t destroyed, so I am receiving people, like it’s a temporary shelter.’ These are the words of Bellony Amazan in the town of Cavaillon, where around a dozen people died as hurricane Matthew tore across Haiti’s southern peninsula on Tuesday. She went on to say she did not yet have any food to give people.

Bellony’s community spirit in extreme circumstances reflects a fundamental change from reactions to previous storms and the massive quake in 2010. ShelterBox’s in-country coordinator Andrew Clark says, ‘Everyone is stressing a need and desire for ‘Haitians to help Haitians’ as best as they can. In the past there has been a reliance on aid organisations and a lack of local self-recovery.’ Although international assistance will be essential, and an official state of emergency has been declared, there is an increased emphasis on harnessing community groups and faith-based organisations.

Andre Bloemink, a ShelterBox response volunteer from Canada, adds, ‘Haitians are helping Haitians as best as they can. With previous operations the response often inadvertently promoted reliance on others as opposed to self-recovery. With an already challenged infrastructure, public health and uncertain political situation, the idea is to assist locals as best as we can to support a proactive recovery in the weeks and months ahead.’


As in the 2010 quake when it supported 28,000 families, and in other hurricane events such as Sandy in 2012, ShelterBox has been a major aid provider to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Food, clean water, healthcare and shelter remain priorities on Haiti in the aftermath of Matthew. Transport difficulties to affected areas have been eased a little by the construction of a temporary replacement bridge across La Digue river to the southwest of Port au Prince. ShelterBox team members are exploring transport links and logistics today. But aid access to many remote communities is still mainly by sea or military helicopter, and some coastal towns and villages are still underwater four days after the storm surge.

The UK’s Met Office reports that current weather in Haiti is dry, but very warm at around 28 degrees centigrade. 

In 2010 cholera, previously unknown in Haiti, claimed at least 3,500 lives. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) now says, ‘Due to massive flooding and its impact on water and sanitation infrastructure, cholera cases are expected to surge after Hurricane Matthew and through the normal rainy season until the start of 2017.’ Among ShelterBox’s suite of aid is a water filtration device to give a household safe drinking water, as well as mosquito nets to combat the spread of other diseases. 

The 'Thirst Aid Station' water filter.

The ‘Thirst Aid Station’ water filter.

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Reinforcing Family Foundations In The Philippines

images of smiling Filipino children

Children from the Capangpangan family in the village of Binay, Philippines.


Typhoon Melor tore through the Philippines last December, leaving 14,400 families with damaged or destroyed houses – houses that were no longer fit to live in. However, your support has helped us provide the vital tools needed to rebuild homes and repair communities.

One of those homes belonged to the Capangpangan family in the village of Binay. Robert and Jennibeth Capangpangan have eight children aged between four and 15. We recently returned to the Philippines to see how the family are recovering after the typhoon.

When the typhoon first passed over their village, the family sought shelter in their house made of coconut tree trunks covered in coconut leaves. Once the winds gained full strength, the house began to shake and the family had no choice but to flee to the nearby church

The family’s possessions were lost; all that remained were a few floorboards

Under the strain of the typhoon, the house began to fall apart and the foundations collapsed. The family’s possessions were lost; all that remained were a few floorboards.

They not only lost their home and belongings, but their income too. Robert was a coconut farmer, but with the majority of coconut trees lost in the typhoon, his livelihood has gone. As a result, his wife Jennibeth has had to leave the family to work in the capital Manila.

When the winds died down, the family returned to their home and Robert tried to construct some new walls out of coconut leaves and tarpaulins provided by the local authorities. The shelter held, but it didn’t feel safe and secure enough for the family.

However, at the start of January, Robert received a shelter kit from ShelterBox, containing corrugated iron sheeting and a range of hardwearing tools. The kit enabled the family to start rebuilding their home.

Rebuilding the family home helped us get our lives back to some sort of normality

Robert said: ‘The kit means everything to us. I’ve lost my livelihood and my income, so without this kit, I wouldn’t have been able to rebuild my family’s home.’

The materials in the kit meant that Robert could start rebuilding a stronger home that was more resilient than the previous house. They were able to reinforce the foundations and build a much sturdier roof.

Robert added: ‘Rebuilding the family home helped us get our lives back to some sort of normality. After the typhoon hit, the children were ill, but now we have a proper home again, they are well and back in school.‘

In total, your support has enabled us to distribute 900 shelter kits to help people rebuild their homes again.

ShelterBox Trains In Other Shelter Solutions

Corinne Treherne is the IFRC Senior Officer at the Shelter and Settlements department and is one of the Shelter Kit course trainers, Predannack, UK, January 2014.

Corinne Treherne is the IFRC Senior Officer at the Shelter and Settlements department and is one of the Shelter Kit course trainers, Predannack, UK, January 2014.


ShelterBox staff and Response Team volunteers from around the world are undertaking a familiarisation training course this weekend in the UK, delivered by shelter specialist the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on their Shelter Kit.
Natural or manmade disasters typically result in damage or loss to housing, leaving hundreds of people homeless, displaced or without adequate shelter.
In the initial stages of a disaster shelter is critical to survival, and beyond that, security and safety are also important in sustaining family and community life.
Since ShelterBox’s inception in 2000, the international disaster relief charity has responded to over 220 disasters and has provided shelter in the form of a custom-designed disaster relief tent big enough for an extended family. Fourteen years on, it is looking to add other shelter solutions, and is now working with the IFRC to achieve this.
‘This weekend, staff and Response Team volunteers will be undertaking a familiarisation course, delivered by two trainers from the IFRC, on their Shelter Kit,’ said ShelterBox Academy Senior Trainer and Response team volunteer Mark Boeck, who will be one of the twelve candidates attending the course.
‘Make repairs’
‘The Shelter Kit contains plastic sheeting or tarpaulins, as well as basic tools, rope and fixings, such as nails, and will enable households to rapidly provide their own shelter solutions or to make repairs to their damaged houses in the aftermath of a disaster.
ShelterBox Operations staff members on Day 1 of the IFRC Shelter Kit course, Predannack, UK, January 2014.

ShelterBox Operations staff members on Day 1 of the IFRC Shelter Kit course, Predannack, UK, January 2014.


‘Understanding the principals and different ways that these kits can be utilised will enable ShelterBox to provide an alternative shelter option to more people, more quickly rather than waiting for the provision of a tent or other temporary shelter.’
Corinne Treherne is the IFRC Senior Officer at the Shelter and Settlements department and is one of the course trainers:
‘Strengthen knowledge and capacity’
‘There are three main objectives of the course. Firstly to acknowledge the shelter response that the IFRC applies; secondly to strengthen knowledge and capacity as it applies to supplying adequate emergency shelters, to promote good practices, and to inform on the practice and utilisation of the Shelter Kit. Finally the course aims to train people in providing technical assistance of the shelter kits to beneficiaries, like a train-the-trainer programme.
‘By the end of the three-day course, all participants will know how to fix a tarpaulin the best way, build a temporary shelter and be aware of the standards. Their knowledge will be improved on how to reinforce a home and how to make recommendations on how to improve the shelter kit. They will also be able to assist other community members with the techniques to build a temporary shelter in the event of a disaster.’
The course is being held at ShelterBox’s training centre at Predannack in Cornwall in the UK, not far from ShelterBox headquarters.