In the afternoon of Sunday, 1st September 2019, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, the strongest hurricane known this side of the Caribbean, made landfall in the Bahamas in Elbow Cay, east of Abaco island and made another landfall on Grand Bahama island with the same intensity several hours later. The hurricane moved slowly through the islands form 1 to 3 of September, leaving a death toll of 43 people as of 6th September (35 people in Abaco and 8 in Grand Bahama). This number is expected to increase due the hundreds of people still missing.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported that more than 13,000 houses have been severely damaged or destroyed – about 45 per cent of all homes on the two islands. Abaco Islands are the most severely affected with thousands of houses leveled, telecommunications towers down, and water wells and roads damaged, very limited or no water, electricity and sanitation, and most of the Marsh harbor infrastructure is damaged. In Grand Bahama, the eastern part is the most affected, with homes damaged between Freetown and Deep Water Cay.
Across Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, airports and seaports are increasingly becoming operational, allowing humanitarian assistance to be delivered. However, access to affected people, particularly in the Abaco Islands, remains challenging mainly due to damaged roads and infrastructure. Assessments are underway conducted by Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), UN agencies and NGOs to determine the scope of needs.
ACT Alliance is deploying a Rapid Assessment Team to be led by the Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID) in the Dominican Republic, on behalf of the Caribbean Sub-regional ACT forum. The assessment will identify needs of the affected population, assess local capacities to respond including those of churches, provide recommendations for a possible ACT Response.