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Hurricane Dorian

STATUS
Active Emergency
DATE
August 28, 2019
REGION
Bahamas, US Southeast
Read our Hurricane Dorian 6-Month Report on response & recovery work in the Bahamas

The Dorian Disaster

Hurricane Dorian, the second most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, smashed into the Bahamas and for 40 hours lashed Grand Bahama, the Abacos and other smaller northern islands with winds of 180 mph and more, 40 inches of rain and 20 foot storm surge. This catastrophic Category 5 storm left 70,000 people displaced, and an estimated 13,000 homes damaged or destroyed along with the majority of health facilities on Great Abaco.

In advance of the storm, Americares positioned emergency responders in Florida, and the team quickly moved to the Bahamian capital, Nassau, to make assessments and coordinate response activities.

The team focused first on meeting the physical and mental health needs of survivors and restoring health services in the communities most affected by the storm.  Six months later, Americares health programs for survivors continue, supporting vulnerable families and communities navigating the long road to recovery. Photo by Alex Ostasiewicz – Watch the video of a survivor of the total devastation in Bahamas and his story of recovery.

Americares has been providing clinical and MHPSS services daily at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium Shelter in Nassau, The Bahamas since it opened.

Immediate Health Needs

With so many survivors in need of basic health services, Americares medical professionals went first to where the displaced people gathered. Less than a week after the storm, a medical team helped provide health screenings for evacuees from the hardest hit islands as they arrived at the airport in Nassau to seek shelter in government facilities or with friends and family. On September 11, 2019, Americares emergency medical team began providing health and mental health and psychosocial consultations in Nassau at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium, the country’s largest emergency shelter.

Working alongside Ministry of Health staff, Americares helped survivors with daily blood glucose monitoring and insulin, welfare check-ins, prescription refills, health education and support for daily living. Americares also provided a refrigerator and shelving for proper storage of medicine in the shelter, which was in a gymnasium.

Americares's RN Geraldine Superville consulting with a patient.

Care in Communities

To address the critical health needs of survivors,  Americares mobilized additional medical professionals and response experts to support relief efforts. The team of doctors, nurses and mental health experts provided mobile medical care to meet urgent health needs in areas cut off from care particularly in shelters, along with medicine and treatment for chronic conditions that have gone unaddressed in recent days.

In late October, for example, an Americares medical team began providing health services at an existing clinic in Elbow Cay; the team also brought health services to Man-O-War Cay and Marsh Harbour. In February, Americares moved its base to Abaco, and began providing mobile health services to five more communities in the archipelago.

4200

Medical Consultations

2500

Mental Health Consultations

100 +

Health Workers Trained

$2.7 million

in Medicine & Relief Supplies

Mother and son receive medical care in Hope Town

Mental Health Care & Training

When a survivor has lost everything in a disaster, recovery begins with the basics, and that includes special attention to mental health. At the shelter in Nassau, Americares partnered with the United Nations Population Fund to rebuild community networks and support systems by training and supporting community health volunteers. The volunteers distributed dignity kits to female shelter residents and shared information on sexual health and well-being to male and female shelter residents.  In partnership with UNFPA and IsraAid, Americares also installed a community space at the shelter so survivors had a place for art and games, and mental health specialists had a space for group therapy activities, one-on-one meetings and community events.

In November, Americares trained mental health professionals who work for the Ministry of Health and the Bahamas Psychological Association on mental health and psychosocial services in emergencies; some also received education on resiliency, coping and self-care and instruction on how to share their knowledge with other mental health professionals.

Americares emergency responder Lisa LaDue talks with Hurricane Dorian survivor Juliette

Healing Hidden Wounds

“I’ve talked with multiple people who were evacuated and had to leave their deceased loved ones behind. I’ve seen them come out of a state of being unable to talk, to starting to tell me their story and end up crying in my arms as they recounted just a little bit about what happened to them.”…Lisa LaDue, Americares mental health and psychosocial program manager

Temporary Hope Town Clinic

Hope Town Rises

After the Hope Town clinic on Abaco was destroyed during the hurricane, Ministry of Health staff established a temporary clinic in a nearby damaged home. Americares rehabilitated this space and, in mid-2020, plans to provide the ministry with a solar-powered temporary health facility where survivors can get the care they need.

In Hope Town, one of the most affected communities in the Abaco islands, Americares trained community health volunteers to talk with survivors about their trauma and loss and encourage them to seek health services.

By June 2020, Americares will train additional community health volunteers to be a critical link between clinical providers and the community, increasing access to care for many more of  the most vulnerable survivors. Volunteers will facilitate health education sessions and refer survivors to health or social services, if needed.


The residents of Hope Town on Elbow Cay worked together to save cargo from a boat that was sinking

Resilience in the Midst of Crisis

The Americares Abaco team has been continually impressed by the resilience, ingenuity and community teamwork rising from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. In one instance, the residents of Hope Town on Elbow Cay worked together to save cargo from a sinking boat. At least 50 community members showed up within minutes of the call for help, starting up bilge pumps, joining a hand-to hand line to get supplies off the boat and then a bucket brigade to empty the hold. The courage and spirit of survivors humbles and teaches us all.

Americares staff assisting a dog with an injured paw in Elbow Cay.

Four-legged Survivors Need Care, Too

Need comes in many forms. Americares staff assisted a dog with an injured paw in Elbow Cay. The dog had a deep wound that was causing him to limp. Americares’s Nurse Geraldine cleaned the wound and bandaged him up. Compassionate care for all members of the family.

The Final Dorian Coastal Track

This historic and unpredictable hurricane, diminished to a Category 2 storm (110 mph winds), turned slowly to move up the U.S. southeast coast, threatening Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia. As the storm moved it expanded in size and strengthened again, meaning that even before another landfall, strong winds and heavy rains hammered the Carolinas creating power outages and causing significant flooding. Hurricane force winds extended 60 miles from the storm center, with tropical-storm-force winds extending up to 195 miles.  Dorian  finally made landfall again at Cape Hatteras NC on the morning of  September 6 as a Category 1 with 90 mph winds.  Leaving wreckage and floodwaters in its wake, Dorian, regaining strength as a Category 2, headed up the coast toward the Canadian Maritimes where it made landfall on September 7.  Photo by Alex Ostasiewicz.