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UN ramps up aid efforts in response to Hurricane Dorian

03 Sep 2019


Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater forward-deployed four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews in support of search and rescue and humanitarian aid in the Bahamas, Sept. 2, 2019. As Hurricane Dorian makes its way across the Bahamas, the Coast Guard is ready to assist as needed. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater)

The United Nations has pre-deployed teams to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, as part of Government-led teams to assess damage from Hurricane Dorian – which by some accounts is the worst storm on record to hit the country. The teams will deploy to the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, where the storm made landfall and then lingered, creating devastating destruction.

Together with the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the UN is prepared to continue supporting the Government-led ongoing rescue and relief efforts to Hurricane Dorian. Ahead of the hurricane, OCHAS’s Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) pre-positioned staff members in the Bahamas. The main needs are anticipated to include water, food, shelter and early recovery.

Briefing journalists in Geneva earlier today, Jens Laerke from OCHA noted that initial assessments from the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama were “rather catastrophic”.

He added: “As we heard, it made landfall in the Abaco Islands; the population there is a little more than 17,000 people, and we are concerned for all of them. It is now over the Grand Bahama, the population there is about 51,000 people and we are concerned for every one of them. The Prime Minister of the Bahamas has said already that five individuals have been confirmed killed as a result of this hurricane.”

Initially classified as a Category 5 hurricane when it hit the Bahamas’ north-west this weekend with wind gusts of more than 320 kilometres per hour, Dorian has now been downgraded two notches. But according to the World Meteorological Organization, the storm still has the potential to be deadly, regardless of its rating.

Widespread damage from the high winds and storm surges have been confirmed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which said that more than 13,000 houses have been severely damaged or destroyed – about 45 per cent of all homes on the two islands.

In the past few years, the Bahamas has been seriously affected by at least three major hurricanes, all Category 4 storms or worse.