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 at least 50 confirmed dead with hundreds of people missing, many thousands are homeless with thousands of homes and other buildings including medical facilities seriously damaged or completely destroyed. Photo by Alex Ostasiewicz – Watch the video of a survivor of the total devastation in Bahamas and his story of recovery.
Damage to Health System
Americares response team has conducted damage assessments on Abaco in anticipation of evolving response needs. Of the 21 health facilities on Abaco and Grand Bahama, only 9 are listed as operational. The ER Team continues to coordinate closely with the Ministry of Health, PAHO and other partners to ensure the needs of these badly-affected facilities are met.
To address the critical health needs of survivors, Americares has mobilized additional medical professionals and response experts to support relief efforts. The team of doctors, nurses and mental health experts has 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. With immediate relief efforts turning to coordination of rebuilding, recovery will be long and challenging given the extent of the destruction and the logistical issues of island geography. Photo by Alejandro Granadillo
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.
Dorian Timeline – The Road Back from an Erratic and Destructive Path
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19
LatestMedical Team Update
On January 29, the Bahamas Ministry of Health held a press conference highlighting the work Americares has done to date and announce the expansion of mobile health services in Abaco which have now been implemented. To date, the Americares Emergency Medical Teams have provided more than 4,300 medical and more than 2,600 mental health consultations across seven locations. With the positive impact of the health teams in affected communities, Americares is now viewed as a trusted partner to local residents in these outer islands. Medical teams have completed their work in two of the shelters.
Americares is also hosting training for new Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in order to increase access to health and social services in the Abacos Islands. The training is focused on basic health services, community mobilization techniques, and psychological first aid. The community health volunteer project is seeing positive results, as the CHV’s continue to accompany community members to clinics, increasing the number of people served by our medical staff.
Early Timeline After the Disaster
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
Medical Team Treating Survivors
Americares emergency medical team continues to meet urgent health needs in the Bahamas, providing primary care, medicines and emergency supplies to Abaco and Grand Bahama evacuees.
In less than a week, Americares has provided 150 medical consultations, primarily treating patients for non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension; skin diseases and lesions from time spent in standing water; disaster-related wounds from debris; and muscle aches. Our medical team continues to report high levels of trauma amongst evacuees and has provided mental health support services to dozens of Hurricane Dorian survivors.
Americares is providing medical services at several shelters as there continues to be high need for medical services in the shelters. To date, more than 5,500 people have evacuated from Abaco and Grand Bahama to Nassau with over 1,400 staying in shelters that are operating at more than 75% capacity — and the shelter population continues to rise.
Given the level of devastation on Abaco and Grand Bahama and no publicized plan for transitioning the shelter population, it is unclear how long people will remain in shelters.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Emergency Medical Team Deploys to Bahamas
An Americares Emergency Medical Team is now providing essential primary care services and lifesaving medicine in an evacuation shelter housing more than 400 children and adults in Nassau. The evacuees include families from the most devastated areas, including the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.
The Americares medical team includes a physician and a mental health expert, as well as nurses, emergency medical technicians and clinical coordinators experienced in providing care in disaster situations.
We are also delivering emergency shipments of medicine and relief supplies, including insulin, antibiotics, anti-infectives and medical consumables, for survivors and are working in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization, the local government and local and international organizations to meet evolving needs.
Evacuations are reported to be winding down and efforts are being put towards addressing the needs of evacuees now in shelters throughout Nassau and surrounding areas. In Grand Bahamas and Abaco, search and recovery operations are still underway. The official death toll has risen to 50, although officials expect the number to rise significantly over the coming days, reinforcing immense need for long term recovery and mental health programming, which Americares is prepared to provide.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. SEPTEMBER 7 & 8
Emergency Team in Action
Over the weekend, Americares team joined with health authorities and a local health NGO to offer support to evacuees arriving at a reception center in Nassau. Alongside and under the supervision of local medical professionals, the team provided services including wound care, mental health support, vital signs monitoring, and health screenings for survivors as they awaited relocation to a shelter or other temporary housing. Americares also helped organize a pharmacy, patient flow and a reporting system to drive efficiency and help coordinate care.
Our team reports that survivors are arriving with a range of trauma, including acute injuries such as lacerations and crush injuries, skin infections and rashes from exposure to flood waters, and gastrointestinal issues and dehydration from lack of potable water, which is a major concern across the islands.
Many of the survivors had been living for six days in the destruction left behind by Hurricane Dorian before they could evacuate their islands and arrived in need of immediate medical care. We were asked to return Monday to conduct more relief services based on Sunday’s impact.
More than 3,500 residents and travelers have been evacuated from the northern islands, including Abaco and Grand Bahamas. When asked to evacuate, some families have been separated and survivors have had to leave lost or deceased loved ones behind.
Given the tremendous loss of loved ones, homes and livelihoods experienced by many people affected by Dorian, Americares anticipates a long-term need for mental health support in the Bahamas and is prepared to leverage our expertise in mental health and psychosocial support to help survivors recover.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
Americares Emergency Team Arrives in Bahamas
As Dorian finally moves on from the Bahamas, the first reports of the death and destruction on the northern islands indicate a catastrophe of historic proportions. Americares team is on the ground, and the early assessment for the response is just beginning.
In the days ahead, Americares emergency response experts will be actively assessing health needs, preparing emergency shipments of medicine and relief supplies and coordinating with national and local organizations responding to the crisis.
Americares is also prepared to deploy emergency medical teams and staff experienced in providing mental health services to disaster survivors, if needed.
Simultaneously, Americares continues to maintain an emergency response team on standby in Florida, ready to activate in affected communities across the southern United States as Dorian heads up the East Coast.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
Americares Emergency Response Team Evaluating Needs In Bahamas
After reaching Category 5 status over the weekend, Hurricane Dorian is starting to inch away from the Bahamas and slowly progress towards the US. Dorian is now a Category 2 storm with 110 mph maximum sustained winds. However, despite decreasing in intensity, Dorian is growing in size with hurricane-force winds extending 60 miles from the center of the storm.
The Bahamas have faced the brunt of Dorian up until this point. At least 5 people are confirmed dead. Infrastructure and homes are badly damaged and destroyed. The full extent of damage to the hardest hit northern islands is still unknown. Americares intends to deploy a team to the Bahamas to conduct needs assessments and determine the best response.
Dorian’s path remains unpredictable. While recent forecasts indicate Dorian will not make direct landfall in the US, the slow-moving nature of the storm is anticipated to produce extensive rainfall across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Evacuations continue along the southeast coast, and emergency management officials continue to be worried about high winds, a strong storm surge, and heavy rain on already saturated land. Americares has reached out to over 200 on-going partners and continues to coordinate with state and local emergency management agencies and NGO partners, as Dorian makes its approach to the US.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
Americares Emergency Response Team Prepares Shipments for South Carolina
Hurricane Dorian smashed into the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm earlier today with 185 mph winds reported. Dorian is the most intense storm to make landfall in the Atlantic since the 1930’s and is projected to cause catastrophic damage. The Bahamas have a sophisticated emergency management framework in place, but the scope of this storm is likely to challenge the system’s capacity. Americares shipment of personal protective gear and cleaning supplies to aid post-disaster recovery is now pre-positioned in Florida and hygiene kits have been staged for distribution in South Carolina.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 31
Americares Response Team Coordinates with Local Partners in Florida
Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 4 storm, continues to evolve. The most recent forecast shows Dorian tracking over the Bahamas then the eye of the storm skirting the Florida coastline, maintaining its strength as a category 3-4 storm as it travels north.
The path of the storm remains uncertain but forecasts indicate a range of landfall sites from Florida to the Carolinas. With Florida still at risk and a growing concern for Georgia and the Carolinas, Dorian’s slow path is forecasted to bring sustained rains and flooding to millions along the coast.
A hurricane warning has now been issued for the northwest Bahamas. The Prime Minister has called for residents in the northern islands to evacuate immediately. The effects of Dorian could be felt in the Bahamas by Sunday morning, and officials warn that 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes could be impacted.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30
Americares Emergency Response Team Deploys to Florida Hurricane Dorian continues to strengthen and evolve. The storm is now expected to become a Category 3 later today (8/30) and will likely begin impacting the northwestern Bahamas, possibly as a Category 4, tomorrow (08/31) evening.
While the exact details will likely change over the next 24 hours, Dorian is expected to slow down as it approaches Florida and is projected to impact the eastern coast of Florida Sunday (09/01) through Monday (09/02).
Americares emergency response team is deploying to Florida today, ahead of landfall. We are continuing to coordinate closely with key stakeholders, including the Florida Department of Health, the Primary Care Association, national response partners and local safety net clinics.
A first shipment of relief items will be prepositioned by tomorrow in Ocala, FL. The shipment consists of personal protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning supplies. As needs arise, these supplies will be rapidly mobilized through distribution sites along the storm’s path.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28
Americares Emergency Response Team Mobilizes
Americares emergency response experts are prepared to respond to Hurricane Dorian as the fast-changing storm takes aim at Florida as a possible Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane.
We are currently mobilizing an emergency response team to deploy to Florida prior to Hurricane Dorian’s landfall and are working to meet partner requests for water and hygiene products.
Over the past 18 months, as part of Americares Hurricane Irma recovery programming, Americares has reached more than 100 health care providers across 44 health facilities in Florida with disaster preparedness training. We are currently reaching out to these and other partners to assess needs in anticipation of the storm.
The storm has moved through the Puerto Rico and Caribbean region with less impact than expected. In 2017, Americares established a base of operations in Puerto Rico to oversee its Hurricane Maria Recovery Program. To date, Americares has delivered over $40 million in aid for hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico alone. Americares work includes more than 100 shipments of medicine and relief supplies, repairs to damaged health facilities, disaster preparedness programming and mental health programming to help survivors cope with stress and trauma.
We are continuing to coordinate with partners across affected areas to assess damage – even as we monitor other activity in the Atlantic at this time during the height of the hurricane season.
Families facing the destruction from Dorian need help.