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Hurricane Irma - Sep 2017

Antigua and Barbuda
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Disaster types
Tropical Cyclone

As of 1 September, [NOAA]’s National Hurricane Centre (NHC), stated that Hurricane Irma’s centre was located near latitude 18.8 north, longitude 39.1 west at 5 PM Atlantic Standard Time (AST) (2100 [UTC]). Irma was moving toward the west at around 13 mph (20 km/h). A turn toward the west-south-west was expected by 2 September 2017. Irma is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, as maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (195 km/h), with higher gusts; while fluctuations in strength (up or down) are possible over the next few days, Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through the weekend. (IFRC, 1 Sep 2017)

Irma made landfall on northeast Caribbean islands during the early hours of 6 September, affecting Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, St Barthélemy, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands and other islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Thousands of people have been evacuated from at-risk areas. Irma is predicted to hit Puerto Rico in the night, before continuing to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas. There is continued risk of catastrophic damage from hurricane force winds, storm surge, and flooding in areas on Irma’s trajectory. Hurricane Irma is being slowly trailed by Hurricane Jose, which is moving very slowly in the Atlantic Ocean and is anticipated to affect the northern Leeward Islands. 49​ ​million people directly in Irma’s projected path. (OCHA, 6 Sep 2017)

As of 13 September, OCHA reported that Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin/St Maarten, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos are the most affected islands and that critical needs in supplies and support were being addressed around the clock. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, local authorities are managing response and restoration to normal activities in the affected areas with local resources. Cuba withstood damage to 13 of its 15 provinces, reporting 10 deaths and damage to agriculture, water supply, and telecommunications. Humanitarian partners continue to work and coordination with regional organizations and local governments throughout the affected countries as needs assessments continue to reveal the range and depth of the needs caused by Irma. (OCHA, 13 Sep 2017)

On 15 September, the Regional Response Plan for the Caribbean Region seeking US$15.1 million was launched. (OCHA, 15 Sep 2017)

On 19 September, the UN System in Cuba (UNS) presented a US$55.8 million Action Plan to address the urgent needs of 2.15 million people. (UN ORC in Cuba, 19 Sep 2017)

As of 2 October, the Office of UN Resident Coordinator in Cuba reported that there were 158,554 houses damaged, 980 health institutions affected, 95,000 hectares of agricultural land damaged and more than 500 kilometers of roads damaged. The most affected provinces were Camagüey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spíritus, and Villa Clara. Other territories, such as Guantánamo, Holguín, Las Tunas, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Mayabeque, and Havana, were also damaged by the hurricane. (UN ORC in Cuba, 2 Oct 2017)

As of 2 November, in the territories affected by Hurricane Irma, attention is being paid to the affected population with priority being placed on households with young children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and the elderly, and those whose houses were completely destroyed. Along with the recovery of the housing, health and education sectors, and the production of food, actions are being taken to repair damaged hotel facilities at Santa María, Coco, and Guillermo keys, in the wake of the tourist high season that began on November 1st. (UN ORC in Cuba, 2 Nov 2017)

As of 30 November, WFP continues to provide assistance to the populations affected by Hurricane Irma in Central Cuba (Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Matanzas, Sancti Spíritus and Villa Clara provinces). To date, WFP assisted 637,000 people with rice and beans, thanks to the foods stocks already prepositioned in the country for a potential disaster response. The distribution of vegetable oil is underway. WFP also suppors national and local authorities with mobile storage units to strengthen food protection capacities. (WFP, 30 Nov 2017)

Three months after the destructive hurricane Irma, the traces left on the northern coast of Cuba are still being felt in the affected provinces, where the basic conditions and livelihood of millions of people were affected. (UN ORC in Cuba, 15 Dec 2017)

As of 12 December, only 10% of the population (about 200 residents) of Barbuda has returned, with the remainder of the affected population in emergency shelters or host communities in Antigua. The Government of Antigua & Barbuda have announced that the remaining emergency shelters will be closed in mid-December and that schooling on Barbuda will resume in January. These efforts are to encourage displace residents to return to Barbuda and begin the recovery process. (IFRC, 12 Dec 2017)

As of 17 January 2018, Barbuda, which was evacuated following the devastation left in the path of Hurricane Irma, remains largely uninhabited despite efforts of the Antigua and Barbuda Government to encourage the return of the 1,600 residents of the island. Fewer than 100 people, including an unconfirmed number of children, have resettled on the island resulting in Government opening more long-term shelter facilities in Antigua. (IFRC, 17 Jan 2018)

In Anguilla, by January 2018, 78 per cent of the population has restored access to water, all school- aged children are back in school but nearly 40 per cent of the population remains without electricity services. (UNICEF, 2 Mar 2018)