Hurricane Sandy kills around 80 in the Caribbean, 1.8 million affected in Haiti

02 Nov 2012

imageHurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti on 25 October, causing heavy rains and strong winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers. A woman sells produce at a flooded market place. Photo: UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Port-au-Prince/New York - Hurricane Sandy, which ploughed through the Caribbean region before hitting the eastern coast of the United States, severely impacted several countries causing nearly 80 deaths: 60 in Haiti, 11 in Cuba, two in the Bahamas, two in the Dominican Republic and one in Jamaica.

Some 1.8 million Haitians have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, the United Nations relief agency said today after its first assessment of the situation in the region, adding that food security remains an urgent concern in the Caribbean nation.

Hurricane Sandy significantly damaged critical infrastructure in Haiti such as roads, schools and hospitals in addition to flooding more than 18,000 homes, particularly in the western and southern departments, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Food security remains a main concern as the country is now struggling with the combined impact of hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, which hit the country three months ago, as well as drought, with up to two million people at risk of malnutrition.

In addition to food insecurity, the UN is concerned about the nearly 350,000 people that are still living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of a devastating earthquake which hit the country in January 2010. Some 1,500 people remain in 15 hurricane shelters.

But the hurricane’s impact was diminished in several areas, partially due to the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) work there with the Government, civil society organizations and local communities. In his recent visit to Haiti, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and the country’s Minister of International Development visited riverbank management sites in the south where UNDP helped build protection walls which were crucial to shield schools, communities, farmlands, harvests and critical infrastructure when Hurricane Sandy struck Haiti last week.

Cuba was also severely affected by hurricane Sandy, with power cuts affecting more than 890,000 people and nearly 200,000 homes damaged. The hurricane severely impacted the city of Santiago de Cuba, the second largest in the country with a population of 500,000 and of key economic importance for the country.

Assessments are still ongoing in the most affected provinces (Santiago de Cuba, Holguín and Guantánamo), with housing, infrastructure and agriculture being the most affected sectors.

In addition, 375 health centres and several hospitals were damaged, as were 2,100 schools. Crops have been damaged and remote communities are cut off because of road and bridge damage.

UNDP and UN humanitarian agencies are working closely with national and local authorities, donors and emergency organizations to support national efforts. An emergency cash grant of US$100,000 has been approved and a request for the UN Central Emergency Response Fund is under preparation.