Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Haiti Hurricane Georges Fact Sheet #3

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 26 Sep 1998
U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

BUREAU FOR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE (BHR)
OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)

Fiscal Year (FY) 1998

BACKGROUND:

Hurricane Georges traveled through the eastern part of the Caribbean during the evening of September 20 and the morning of September 21, causing loss of life and damage to St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda. Continuing on its path across the Caribbean, Georges then struck the Dominican Republic and Haiti on September 22, causing additional fatalities and damage to infrastructure. Georges is currently positioned approximately 460 miles southeast of New Orleans and is traveling to the west-northwest at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 105 mph; the storm could possibly strengthen over the next 24 hours.

Eastern Caribbean:

St. Kitts and Nevis: In St. Kitts, there are four confirmed deaths as a result of Hurricane Georges. According to a preliminary damage assessment conducted by the St. Kitts National Emergency Management Agency, Hurricane Georges caused approximately $445 million worth of damage. Electricity is disrupted in certain areas and though it is slowly being restored, it continues to be a major problem that is also affecting water distribution. Phone lines were completely disrupted by the storm, but are now being restored. Water facilities are also damaged. In addition, the BHR/OFDA assessment team reports that 60% of homes are damaged, and approximately 25% of these were destroyed by the hurricane. Approximately 2,500 people continue to be displaced; some remain in shelters, others are at the homes of friends and relatives. Many schools, commercial businesses, and public buildings (including the main hospital) are without roofs. The airport sustained major damage to its main terminal and control tower. It is now open for daylight flights only. In the agricultural sector, 50% of the 1999 sugar harvest is suspected to be lost. Several major hotels are severely damaged, possibly affecting the tourist industry for many months to come.

In Nevis, the National Disaster Coordinator reports many slight injuries but no deaths. In addition, it reports $1 million worth of damage to the electrical system and $2.5 million worth of damage to the agricultural sector. Phone and water services have been restored in many areas. The availability of electricity continues to be a problem and damage to the electrical system hampers the distribution of water. Thirty-five percent of the housing stock has been damaged, in addition to several schools and hotels. Over 300,000 livestock have been killed.

Antigua and Barbuda: Initial reports from the Antigua Red Cross indicate that two people are dead and 15 people are seriously injured as a direct result of Hurricane Georges. In addition, approximately 1,650 homes are damaged in Antigua with partial or complete loss of roof on 1,500. Another 250 homes in Antigua are completely destroyed. The towns along the southern coast are most severely affected. Five areas of southern Antigua have been declared disaster areas: Fire Island, All Saints, Liberta, Bolan, and Crab Hill. Electricity is slowly being restored but will take one month for full restoration. Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago will be assisting Antigua's power restoration efforts. Water distribution has been hampered due to lack of power; however, the local emergency authorities are fulfilling needs by trucking water in and distributing it to affected communities. As of September 25, only 50% of the phone lines are functional.

Dominican Republic: The Dominican Department of Defense Damage and Needs Assessment Commission reports that 201 individuals have died and 551 individuals have been wounded as a direct result of Hurricane Georges. In total, 286,908 people have been affected. The final death toll is almost certain to exceed 500. There are approximatelly 90 missing persons, including three U.S. Peace Corps volunteers. Preliminary reports indicate that heavy wind damage and flooding have occurred in Santo Domingo. The telephone service in Santo Domingo is functional, but communication with the rest of the country is limited. The commercial airport is heavily damaged and only open to military aircraft and non-commercial flights. It is expected to completely reopen within 4-5 days. Electricity is out throughout the entire country and is not expected to be restored to full capacity for at least one month. In addition, the Government of the Dominican Republic indicates that there is a near total destruction of food crops and extensive damage to roads and bridges. A curfew is being enforced by soldiers in Santo Domingo, following reports of looting and street violence.

Haiti: The Haitian Civil Protection Directorate reports 27 deaths, 29 serious injuries, and 9 missing persons. Port au Prince was left relatively unscathed, except for flooding in the low-lying area of Cite Soleil and damage to the main commercial port. Jacmel was hit by flood waters that damaged several neighborhoods and cut off road access to outlying neighborhoods. The full extent of damage in Jacmel is not known, but low-lying areas around the city are also in danger of flash floods and ensuing mudslides -- as are the low-lying areas in Croix des Missions, Gonaives, Hinche, Anse a Galets, and Leogane. The primary areas of concern are Cap-Hatien, Cite Soleil, and Leogane. An unspecified number of homes are reported to be damaged as a result of high winds. The Peligre Dam, which is located on the Arbonite River in the Central Plateau (near the border with the Dominican Republic), has been unable to accommodate flood waters as a result of the storm.

USG ASSISTANCE:

Eastern Caribbean: U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Philip Jones declared a disaster for St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda on September 23 in response to damage sustained by Hurricane Georges. A BHR/OFDA-chartered aircraft delivered 500 rolls of plastic sheeting to Antigua on September 25 in follow-up to the disaster declaration. Ninety rolls remained in Antigua, ten went to Barbuda, 300 went to St. Kitts, and 100 went to Nevis. In addition, BHR/OFDA delivered 2,000 five-gallon water jugs and ten 3,000-gallon water bladders for the affected countries. All relief supplies have been delivered to disaster-stricken areas by government authorities. A three-person BHR/OFDA assessment team (consisting of a BHR/OFDA Regional Advisor and two Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue personnel) arrived in St. Kitts on September 22. Another BHR/OFDA assessment team comprised of three Miami-Dade personnel arrived in Antigua on September 23. Each is carrying out on-site training in the use of plastic sheeting. Additional BHR/OFDA assistance in the eastern Caribbean will be contingent upon the recommendations of these assessment teams.

Dominican Republic: U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Linda Watt declared a disaster for the Dominican Republic on September 23 in response to damage sustained by Hurricane Georges. In response, BHR/OFDA provided $25,000 to support the purchase of chainsaws, emergency construction materials, and water purification supplies. In addition, BHR/OFDA chartered three flights to deliver relief supplies, including approximately 400 rolls of plastic sheeting, 100 body bags, 2,000 five-gallon water jugs, 10 water bladders, and 24 chainsaws. One flight arrived early this morning, a second arrived this afternoon, and a third will arrive tomorrow morning. Another 100 rolls of plastic sheeting is scheduled to arrive over the course of the next two days. Distribution of the plastic sheeting has commenced, coordinated by the Dominican Red Cross. A six-person BHR/OFDA assessment team (including USAID Assistant Administrator Hugh Parmer) arrived in Santo Domingo on September 25, and immediately began its work. In addition to assessing damage and current needs, the assessment team is training people on how to use the plastic sheeting. Initial aerial surveys conducted by the assessment team show significant damage to roofs across the country, confirming drastic needs for more plastic sheeting and/or other roofing materials. The provision of additional BHR/OFDA assistance in the Dominican Republic will be based upon recommendations from the assessment team.

Haiti: Chargé d'Affaires Margaret Jones declared a disaster for Haiti on September 23 in response to damage sustained by Hurricane Georges. In response, BHR/OFDA provided $25,000 to the U.S. Embassy for immediate disaster needs. The funds are being used 1) to supply potable water to hurricane victims in Port Au Prince, Cap-Haitien, and Leogane; and 2) to pay for aerial survey of the most affected areas. Aerial surveys are being conducted by four assessment teams from the USAID Mission, in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, World Food Program, and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). A BHR/OFDA Regional Advisor arrived in Haiti on September 25 to assist with the assessment efforts. USAID Mission representatives and other humanitarian organizations on the ground indicate that immediate food and water needs are being met. Additional BHR/OFDA assistance to Haiti will be based on the Regional Advisor's recommendations, which are currently being reviewed and coordinated by BHR/OFDA.

BHR/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance $619,240

Roy Williams
Director
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance