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2008 Hurricane Season
At the season’s mid-point, storms are rolling quickly through the Caribbean

By mid-September, Hurricanes Faye, Gustav, Hanna and Ike had made their way across the Caribbean, causing significant damage before striking various parts of the U.S. coast, from Louisiana to Florida to South Carolina. Although the storms varied in strength when they made landfall—their sustained winds were not the major cause of damage, rather, flooding was the culprit. In Haiti, in particular, the ground was already saturated by Faye when Gustav, Hanna and Ike struck in rapid succession. (Click here for a PowerPoint presentation on the situation in the countries)

The country reports that follow chronicle the health impact of these disasters—from deaths and population displacement to water and sanitation and shelter management. Read more below on the situation in each country. Take special note of the important role played by two Emergency Operations Centers established several years ago in Haiti.

Situation Reports by Country

Dominican Republic
Turks and Caicos
Situation Reports



Background and Health Issues - 10 September

In Cuba, the principal hospitals as well as health clinics and family doctor’s facilities have suffered serious damage and are unable to function. This is jeopardizing the delivery of health care to the affected population in a country where 100% of the health services are public. In addition, the disease surveillance system and epidemiological control activities have been severely curtailed.

Within this health context, it is paramount to maintain the population informed on health measures and risk prevention activities. The project contemplates the procurement and distribution of health educational materials and emphasizes the importance of maternal and child health care as well as emergency services.

As an island, Isla de la Juventud presents special challenges for the delivery of emergency response activities. The general hospital “Héroes de Baire”, with a capacity of 396 beds, is severely damaged and not functional. This hospital delivers services to the population of 87,000. In addition, three primary health care clinics have also been damaged as well as the main emergency unit, the unit of epidemiological surveillance, and the municipal warehouse for medical supplies.

In the province of Pinar del Río, eight municipalities have been severely affected. These eight municipalities have a population of 500,000 which represents 49.2% of the total population of the province. In the municipality of San Cristobal, the hospital “Comandante Pinares” with a capacity of 440 beds, has been seriously damaged. This hospital provides medical services to almost 200,000 people who live in the eastern part of the province. In this area, a health center has also been totally destroyed and a large number of family doctor facilities are non- functional, as well as pharmacies, municipal epidemiological and surveillance centers, laboratories and other primary health care facilities. These same areas were already affected by Hurricane Gustav.

September 9. Hurricane Ike is pounding the eastern side of Cuba, and there is a Hurricane warning throughout the country. More than four inches of rain has been reported in the East. The rain will continue through the day in the rest of the country. Hurricane-force winds are affecting the Provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas and Camaguey. It is expected the Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spíritus, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas will suffer the same fate tomorrow.

Gustav and Hanna

A banana plantation devastated by Hurricane Gustav in Cuba.

Hurricane Gustav was the strongest storm to hit Cuba in 50 years, in terms of severity of winds (category 4-5 hurricane) and damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

Remarkably, there were no reported deaths, thanks to massive evacuation efforts on the part of national authorities. The latest figures indicate that 250,000 people were evacuated, including 77,092 in Havana, 25,000 in Southern Matanzas, and 147,994 in Pinar del Río province. More than 90,000 houses were damaged.

There has been heavy damage reported to health facilities throughout the country. Serious floods affected the Isle of Youth, and dialysis patients had to be evacuated to Havana due to the damage to health facilities. Medical teams are on standby. PAHO/WHO is in contact with the Ministry of Health and the U.N. team in the country.

Click here for the UN Assessment Report from 4 September.

Donate to Cuba through Global Links
Contributions/pledges to date to Cuba Appeal
CERF US$ 1,611,677

More photos from Cuba
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On August 26, the government declared a red alert for Hurricane Gustav in 19 of its 32 provinces. The province of Pedernales, on the southern tip of the border with Haiti, was almost totally evacuated.

Eight deaths were reported following a mudslide in Santo Domingo. 1,239 homes were damaged and 12 destroyed. 2,6643 were housed in 31 official shelters during the storm.

Significant damage to agriculture sector was reported and the South West areas of the country was on the alert for flooding from TS Hanna. Meteorologists predict more rain across much of the country in the next three weeks.Meteorologists predict more rain across much of the country in the next three weeks.Meteorologists predict more rain across much of the country in the next three weeks.

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Update on the disease situation in Haiti
Click here for a map of the sites affected by Gustav, Hanna and Ike in Haiti


Hurricane Ike, which passed near Haiti only four days after Hurricane Hanna and less than two weeks after Hurricane Gustav, worsened the situation in the country. Communications remain the most import challenge with roads, bridges damaged or blocked. Some areas can only be reached by helicopter. It is estimated that up to 800,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The worse affected area is the city of Gonaives which remains flooded and approximately 300,000 people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Hundreds of houses have been destroyed. Authorities had evacuated part of the population (approximately 12,000 people) to shelters in higher ground before the arrival of the storm. Emergency health care centers were also set up to receive casualties.

The hospital at Gonaives is not functioning and health services are being delivered through those remaining Ministry of Health clinics and mobile clinics run by NGOs with medical supplies from PAHO (Inter-Agency Emergency Health Kit -IEHK-for 10,000 sent on 6 September). Some private hospitals still functioning.

The hospital in Saint Marc (110 beds – source MSF, 2004) to the south of Gonaives is acting as the regional hospital for the department.

Numerous NGOs and other agencies are preparing assessments and delivering basic necessities and health services. Daily contact with all health actors and health response coordination is being facilitated by PAHO/WHO. Two specialists are being sent to Gonaives to assist with the assessments.

PAHO/WHO has prepared a list of medical supplies urgently needed in the field. It includes surgical supplies, broad spectrum antibiotics and anesthetics. PAHO/WHO has also presented an Epidemiological Surveillance System to health partners by PAHO for rapid implementation in the whole country.

Gustav and Hanna

Hurricane Gustav made landfall on August 26 near the city of Jacamel as a Category 1 Hurricane. There are ten Emergency Operations Centers in Haiti at the departmental level. Of these, PAHO/WHO supports the management and activities of four of these (read more about how these EOCs were established in 2006). Two of the four (in Les Cayes and Hinche) remained open round-the clock during Hurricane Gustav providing information to the central EOC in Port-au-Prince.

Gustav fell in between two other storms, and the flooding in Haiti was the result of the three almost back-to-back events which included including Faye (August 16) and Hanna, the most recent event (September 2).

Official tolls (according to DPC--Haiti Civil Defense Protection) of the impact to date: 79 deaths and according to the Civil Protection 50,000 people are in shelters. These figures are expected to rise as assessments are still ongoing.

The situation in Gonaives, the hardest hit city in Haiti, is serious, but assessments continue to be hampered by the bad weather and blocked roads. Flooding has been reported in nine of the ten departments in the country. Access to drinking water is a problem.

Health Situation

To date, there are 79 reported deaths in Haiti and more than 1,000 minor injuries have been treated by the various mobile clinics and health centers that remain open. While presently there is no general shortage of drugs, many have lost their livelihoods and therefore have no money with which to purchase medicines. Access to free medications is only available through NGOs and aid agencies.

The hospital in St Marc (a small hospital on the coast, south of Gonaives) is functioning as the regional referral hospital for the department of Artibonite, as the hospital in Gonaives is unusable because of the floods. In fact, virtually the entire health system in the Department is not functioning, as most health centers have also been severely affected. Those few that are still functioning are being supplied with medicines by PAHO/WHO. In Gonaives, 18 patients had to be evacuated from the flooded hospital; all stocks were destroyed. Mobile clinics have been set in operation serving the area between Gonaives and Port-au- Paix.

PAHO/WHO is in daily contact with all health actors in Haiti and has facilitated logistical aspects of some of the field assessment missions. PAHO has also maintained stocks of medical kits and has pre-positioned medical and surgical supplies in the northwest Departments.

UN Health Cluster in Haiti

United Nations Consolidated Flash Appeal for Haiti

PAHO/WHO's Appeal for International Aid for Haiti

Contributions/pledges to date to Haiti Appeal
CIDA Canada Can$ 232,000
1 Inter-Agency Emergency Health Kit
CERF US$ 400,000
PAHEF 1 Inter-Agency Emergency Health Kit
SIDA Sweden SK 5,000,000
USAID/OFDA US$ 500,000

Haiti's vulnerability to disasters

More pictures from Haiti

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After passing Haiti, Hurricane Gustav hit Jamaica with 70 mph winds. Emergency Operations Centers were activated at national, regional and parish level, and 37 Shelters were prepared in the Eastern parishes of St. Anne, St. Thomas and Portland. On August 30, more than 800 people were reported to be in shelters. There have been 12 confirmed deaths. Approximately 72 communities have been affected, particularly from flash floods and storm surges.

The Victoria Jubilee Hospital, Bellevue Hospital and Port Antonio Hospital reported damage from the winds and rain. Currently, recovery activities are underway. All health systems are functioning, although two hospitals remain without electricity.

Flooding continues to be a major problem, and the water supply affected. PAHO/WHO deployed an LSS/SUMA and a Disaster Specialist to Jamaica.

Jamaica's vulnerability to disasters

Location: Gordon Town, St. Andrew
Source: Shanti Persad, Jamaica Bauxite Institute.
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9 September - Hurricane Ike impacted Turks and Caicos as a Category 4 Hurricane over the weekend, with winds of up to 135 mph. Initial reports indicate that there is extensive flooding across the Islands. The only hospital in Grand Turk (pop. 6,000) suffered significant damage, and 13 geriatric patients had to be moved to a differente wing of the hospital.

More than 90% of the houses in Grand Turk have sustained damages (50% severe damage). Electricity and telephone services have been restored. In Providenciales Island (pop. 30,442), the public water supply has been affected. There are no reports of deaths, missing or injuries as of yet.


Hurricane Hanna caused heavy flooding in the five islands. No deaths have been reported; however 800 people had to move to shelters. The Ministry of Health requested PAHO/WHO that a water and sanitation expert be mobilized.

PAHO/WHO's Appeal for International Aid for Turks and Caicos

Contributions/pledges to date to
Turks and Caicos Appeal
DFID/UK US$ 160,000

The damaged hospital in Grand Turk after Hurricane Ike.
More photos from damage caused by Hurricane Ike (copyright Ton Vlugman, PAHO/WHO):
Grand Turk
Grand Turk Hospital
South Caicos
Five Cays