Waiting for Irma

Hurricane Irma is threatening families across the Caribbean, with winds of up to 180 miles per hour, storm surges and torrential rainfall.

Irma poses a major threat to life and property in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Eastern Caribbean islands and the mainland USA.

Fr Enrique Camacho, director of Caritas Puerto Rico, said, “We’re expecting the biggest hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history. It could be really hard. We’ll see what will happen but the fear is that communities by the sea could be badly hit. There were big storms in 1989 and 1996 that caused extensive damage. Irma is going to be bigger. Puerto Rico is undergoing an economic crisis, so it will be very difficult to respond.

“We have activated all the parishes, where our volunteers have identified vulnerable people such as the disabled, sick or elderly to be able to help them. They have instructions for what to do. We will open the churches as shelters, feed and provide care to the survivors if needed. We’re linking with all the other aid agencies to be able to respond as a group and with the government.”

The northern coast of Hispaniola is low-lying and flood prone. Poor drainage and low elevation mean that even a small amount of rain can cause extensive flooding. The rain and winds expected from Irma will potentially cause catastrophic flooding and landslides.

In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, parish networks of Caritas are linking up with international Caritas to put emergency plans in place and be able to react quickly when needs are clear. Across the Caribbean, plans are in place at the local level to provide immediate assistance, including shelter and food.

For more information, please contact Robyn Fieser, 849-354-9257, robyn.fieser@crs.org


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