Hurricane Irma: Oxfam assessing damage in Haiti and Dominican Republic
Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage in Haiti and Dominican Republic overnight. Oxfam teams will immediately asses the needs of the most vulnerable people in the hardest-hit areas, mainly in the north of both countries.
“We believe the worst of the hurricane has passed and people here hope to have fortunately escaped the worst,” said Oxfam’s Tania Escamilla, who weathered the storm in Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city.
Oxfam teams reported heavy rain and flooding in Ouanaminthe district and in Fort Liberte city at the Dominican Republic border, and a broken bridge at the Massacre River linking the two countries. Thousands of houses have been damaged and people have been displaced in the Dominican Republic.
“Our main concern remains how much damage Irma’s rains and flooding caused to sanitation and water infrastructure,” Escamilla said. “We’ve heard of flooding up to a metre high in poor neighborhoods here in Haiti.”
“Many people didn’t evacuate their homes here, so there is still a risk from the rain. We are seeing a lot of trash and waste out in the flooded streets in Cap Haitien which is exactly the type of condition that heightens the risk of cholera and other diseases.”
Oxfam teams in Cap Haitien, Ouanaminthe and Gonaive, in the northern part of the country have the necessary supplies for cholera prevention.
Irma is moving north and will severely affect Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Oxfam is continuing to monitor the progress of Hurricane Jose, which threatens more damage to islands already devastated by Irma. A third hurricane – Katia – is threatening Veracruz in Mexico. Oxfam is prepared to assess and respond with essential supplies.
Latin America and the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to multiple recurrent disasters aggravated by climate change. Poverty and inequality make people in the region especially vulnerable.