The widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Irma has profoundly impacted millions of people. Relief efforts by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) across several affected islands in the Caribbean and surrounding areas include the distribution of food, water, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, and other critical resources. ADRA’s response continues to grow even as emergency preparation is underway for Hurricane Maria.
ADRA, one of the first humanitarian organizations to reach remote regions on the islands greatly impacted by the tropical storm, has activated relief teams as part of the ongoing disaster response. The islands that are most affected and receiving ADRA disaster relief assistance include: Anguilla, Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Martin/Maarten, Tortola, and Turks and Caicos.
“ADRA has received reports of communities affected by flooding, lack of electricity, even reports of families clamoring for food and clean drinking water,” said Thierry Van Bignoot, director for emergency management at ADRA International. “Airports are accessible, but transportation to some islands remain limited to boats only. In spite of this, our emergency responders have been dispatched at these locations, and are working closely with global partners to supply food, water, hygiene kits, sleeping cots, mosquito nets, and more, for individuals and destitute families as quickly as possible.”
Emergency preparations are also underway for Hurricane Jose, which has sparked a mandatory evacuation on the island of Barbuda. The unpredictable storm is also threatening to cause more destruction to the island’s already 90 percent devastation to infrastructure hard hit by Hurricane Irma. “People have been relocated to the island of Antigua from Barbuda,” said Van Bignoot. “The local Seventh‐day Adventist church in Antigua have pitched in to assist families with needed shelter, and ADRA is monitoring the situation for shipment of food and water, including additional assistance.”
The situation is urgent on the islands, yet emergency assistance and relief activities provided by ADRA are in development among other affected regions.
· Martin/St. Maarten, Anguilla, and Tortola ‐ Food and water are urgent needs in the islands of St. Martin/Maarten and Anguilla in the Caribbean, as well as Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. ADRA is currently procuring critical resources to distribute by the end of the week to these locations.
· Haiti ‐ Haiti was spared the full force of the storm but northern parts of the country were still battered, leaving close to 10,000 people in emergency shelters and many areas inundated by flood waters. Cholera and other waterborne diseases are a big concern, which ADRA Haiti's response will address with hygiene kits and water purification, as well as food and non‐ food items.
· Dominican Republic ‐ ADRA is distributing food vouchers to 1,800 people who were hit especially hard by Hurricane Irma in the Dominican Republic. These vouchers are plastic cards preloaded with a set amount of money that can be used in local shops and markets. Marketplaces take an extra hit in disasters, so vouchers like these both feed families and help invest in rebuilding the local economy.
· Puerto Rico ‐ The damage in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Irma is not centralized, and many areas are still cut off from transportation. ADRA has already collected and distributed food to hundreds of families and are currently planning further needs assessments in devastated areas as soon as it is safe to do so.
· Turks and Caicos ‐ The Turks and Caicos Islands saw massive amounts of damage, and access to the hardest hit islands ‐ South Caicos, Grand Turks, and Providenciales ‐ remains limited. ADRA is preparing vital resources, including shelter tarps, to transport as soon as possible. “ADRA continues to make provisions for the dire situations progressing throughout the Caribbean. Added support of these disaster responses is also welcomed through critical donations to ADRA’s emergency fund,” Van Bignoot said.
About ADRA: The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International is the humanitarian arm of the Seventh‐day Adventist Church. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. For more information, visit ADRA.org.