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How USAID Prepares for Hurricane Season

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Haïti
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USAID
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Origine
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Learn about hurricanes & their impact. Then take a tour around the Caribbean to see what USAID & our partners do to prepare for the worst.

Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA)

Intro

Just one major hurricane can be devastating. That’s why USAID – through its Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance – prepares year-round to help communities in Latin America and the Caribbean prepare for the Atlantic hurricane season.

Understanding Hurricanes

Hurricanes are intense storms that form near the equator over tropical or subtropical waters, where the water is at least 80 degrees fahrenheit.

They are typically steered by east-to-west moving trade winds, which drive storms across the Atlantic toward the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Other factors – like areas of high pressure, strength of trade winds, and sea surface temperatures – can influence the direction of the storm, making it difficult to predict the exact route.

Hurricanes are seasonal, meaning that regions of the world experience them at different times of the year. From June to November they are most active in the Atlantic Basin. From April to November they're more active in the Pacific and Indian Basins.

Hurricanes also vary in strength and speed. A tropical storm is not classified as a hurricane until its winds reach 74 miles per hour or higher.

However, just because a hurricane is slow does not mean it is not dangerous.

The Human Impact

As a hurricane hits land, it loses its main source of energy, but other things – including storm surges (rises in seawater level during a storm), flooding, and mudslides – are now a threat. In fact, more people are killed from flooding and storm surge than by a hurricane’s powerful winds.

How USAID Responds

USAID Headquarters in Washington, DC

At USAID headquarters in Washington, DC, the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) leads the U.S. government's overseas disaster preparedness and response efforts. Our Washington team works with disaster experts all over the world, including in the Caribbean, to help countries prepare for hurricane season year-round.

Our Miami Warehouse: Relief Supplies Ready to Deploy

In Miami, BHA has a warehouse stocked with emergency relief supplies. In the event of a hurricane, we can immediately transport emergency shelter materials, blankets, hygiene kits, household items, water purification equipment, and more to affected countries.

IOM's Warehouse in Haiti: Pre-positioning Relief Supplies

In Haiti, USAID works with partners to pre-position relief supplies to ensure they’re quickly available to help vulnerable communities. Our partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stocks emergency commodities including shelter materials, blankets, hygiene kits, household items, and water purification equipment. Our partner the UN World Food Program also has a warehouse in Haiti. It is stocked with enough emergency food to feed 300,000 people for a month.

Our Costa Rica Regional Office

In Costa Rica, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance operates a regional office where disaster experts are ready to respond immediately to disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. These experts are constantly monitoring storms as they develop and providing updates to U.S. government staff and disaster officials in the region.

We also have a network of disaster risk management specialists and more than 400 on-call disaster consultants across Latin America and the Caribbean. These consultants know the country, culture, and local officials, and can quickly report on conditions on the ground to help USAID prioritize humanitarian needs.

How USAID Prepares Year-Round

JAMAICA

Hurricane Strong Infrastructure In Jamaica, we worked with Habitat for Humanity to make improvements to infrastructure and shelters so vulnerable communities are more resilient to hurricanes and other natural disasters. We also conducted disaster preparedness awareness campaigns so families know what to do when the next storm hits.

Training Youth Emergency Action Committees in Jamaica In Jamaica, the St. Patrick’s Rangers are a group of teens who were trained year-round by our partner Catholic Relief Services to help their communities before, during & after disasters. This program recruits at-risk youth from hurricane-prone and marginalized neighborhoods and trains them to be community leaders in disaster preparedness and response.

HAITI

Building Back Safer in Haiti In Haiti, our partner, the IOM, has trained hundreds of local carpenters to build safe and durable homes, making their communities stronger and more prepared for the next storm.

Building Capacity of Local Disaster Responders Helping countries strengthen their own ability to respond to disasters is a big part of our hurricane preparedness work in the Latin America and Caribbean regions. We worked with the US Forest Service, Catholic Relief Services and other partners to train local disaster responders and community and faith-based organizations to improve emergency management systems in disaster-prone areas.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Inclusive Disaster Planning USAID helps communities in the Caribbean ensure persons with disabilities are included in local disaster planning, preparedness, and response. In the Dominican Republic, we worked with the Dominica Development Institute (IDDI) to bring persons with disabilities together with community planners and disaster management professionals to ensure disaster plans meet the needs of the entire community.

Supporting the Dominican Republic's Emergency Operations Center Around the region, we provide technical assistance and training for national Emergency Operations Centers. Which serve as local authorities’ nerve centers during disaster responses. In the Dominican Republic, we worked with Plan USAID to provide geospatial information technology and training on data collection and management, which helps inform local authorities’ response plans.

Humanitarian supply chain capacity strengthening and operational readiness Due to the increase in frequency and intensification of climate hazards and atmospheric phenomena in the Caribbean region, the Dominican Republic serves as an important hub for food and logistics services to its neighboring country, Haiti. We are working to provide the necessary scale-up of Dominican capacities and infrastructures in order to also be able to provide crucial relief to Haiti when needed.

DOMINICA

Building Community Response Capacity in the Caribbean

In Dominica, our partner the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has provided technical training and peer-to-peer exchanges among the Red Cross national Societies. These trainings, which we are also supporting in the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, and Saint Lucia, help improve early warning systems, develop contingency plans, and train and equip community disaster response teams.

SAINT LUCIA

Harvesting Rainwater at Emergency Shelters

In Saint Lucia, through our Regional Disaster Assistance Program (RDAP), we helped emergency shelters have a reliable source of safe drinking water after disasters strike. We worked with community leaders to design and install rainwater harvesting systems at sites that serve as emergency shelters.

Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia

Empowering the Next Generation of Disaster Responders in the Caribbean

A program that started in hazard-prone and marginalized neighborhoods of inner-city Kingston, Jamaica, has been so successful that it has expanded to Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada. Our partner Caritas Antilles helped communities become more resilient to disasters by training young people to plan for and respond to hurricanes, administer first aid, map out evacuation routes, and set up emergency shelters.

HAITI

Building Back Safer in Haiti

In Haiti, our partner, the IOM, has trained hundreds of local carpenters to build safe and durable homes, making their communities stronger and more prepared for the next storm.

Building Capacity of Local Disaster Responders

Helping countries strengthen their own ability to respond to disasters is a big part of our hurricane preparedness work in the Latin America and Caribbean regions. We worked with the US Forest Service, Catholic Relief Services and other partners to train local disaster responders and community and faith-based organizations to improve emergency management systems in disaster-prone areas.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Inclusive Disaster Planning USAID helps communities in the Caribbean ensure persons with disabilities are included in local disaster planning, preparedness, and response. In the Dominican Republic, we worked with the Dominica Development Institute (IDDI) to bring persons with disabilities together with community planners and disaster management professionals to ensure disaster plans meet the needs of the entire community.

Supporting the Dominican Republic's Emergency Operations Center Around the region, we provide technical assistance and training for national Emergency Operations Centers. Which serve as local authorities’ nerve centers during disaster responses. In the Dominican Republic, we worked with Plan USAID to provide geospatial information technology and training on data collection and management, which helps inform local authorities’ response plans.

Humanitarian supply chain capacity strengthening and operational readiness Due to the increase in frequency and intensification of climate hazards and atmospheric phenomena in the Caribbean region, the Dominican Republic serves as an important hub for food and logistics services to its neighboring country, Haiti. We are working to provide the necessary scale-up of Dominican capacities and infrastructures in order to also be able to provide crucial relief to Haiti when needed.

DOMINICA

Building Community Response Capacity in the Caribbean

In Dominica, our partner the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has provided technical training and peer-to-peer exchanges among the Red Cross national Societies. These trainings, which we are also supporting in the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, and Saint Lucia, help improve early warning systems, develop contingency plans, and train and equip community disaster response teams.

SAINT LUCIA

Harvesting Rainwater at Emergency Shelters

In Saint Lucia, through our Regional Disaster Assistance Program (RDAP), we helped emergency shelters have a reliable source of safe drinking water after disasters strike. We worked with community leaders to design and install rainwater harvesting systems at sites that serve as emergency shelters.

THE CARIBBEAN

Preparedness Training to Save Lives in the Caribbean

We work throughout the Caribbean to give communities the tools to be ready for the next disaster. Our partner the American Red Cross has trained community members in disaster management skills, first aid instructor training, and the use of mobile apps to disseminate life-saving first aid and hazard information. Preparedness training took place in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

Climate-related disasters – including hurricanes, storms, and flooding – are increasing in intensity and magnitude. While we can’t stop them from striking, we can, and do, work with local communities to become more resilient in the face of these disasters to better withstand the impacts of climate change.