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Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support

by IsraAID
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support
Hurricane Dorian Emergency Support

The Bahamas was hit by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019, claiming the lives of at least 70 people and causing some $3.4 billion in damage. Seawater surges contaminated the wells, leaving these previously safe water sources with extremely high levels of salination. With buildings and homes severely damaged, schools were closed, leaving children and their families without a daily routine and no safe spaces to play. Locals experienced a sharp shortage in supplies ranging from food to cleaning products to hygiene items.

IsraAID launched an emergency response mission to support affected communities. On New Providence, IsraAID’s Protection Team worked in the capital city, Nassau, supporting the influx of evacuees relocated to shelters from their homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama. To provide a daily space for children to play, learn, and grow IsraAID’s Protection Specialists set up Child-Friendly Spaces on Abaco and Grand Bahama. We recruited and trained local volunteers to facilitate these spaces, focusing on key Psychosocial tools to support children in times of uncertainty and chaos. In order to address limited access to safe water and other basic supplies, the IsraAID team established water distribution points for locals and a warehouse to provide emergency items to the community.

COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Since the beginning of the spread of the deadly Coronavirus in January 2020, the disease has claimed the lives and infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The World Health Organization declared a  pandemic on March 11. There are currently at least 64 cases of COVID-19, with 8 deaths, in the Bahamas.

With mass quarantine, canceled travel, and a disrupted lifestyle across the globe, IsraAID’s teams are working to help respond to this most recent public health challenge. The need to isolate the infected and those potentially infected can break down the social ties and connections that are acutely needed in times of crisis, both for logistical preparation and response purposes, but also for our emotional wellbeing.

Vulnerable communities are at even higher risk. Without access to regular services, populations still working to
recover from earlier disasters are facing additional difficulties in obtaining the support they need. The current marked shift back to crisis mode can be extremely difficult, particularly for children. With communities still working to overcome the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian, people are at high risk for the rapid spread of disease. This could cause a secondary crisis, exacerbating humanitarian needs. Although our programs have been put on hold due to government restrictions, we are committed to getting back to work as soon as possible.

Supporting children’s psychosocial needs: Although IsraAID’s nine Child-Friendly Spaces have been temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team continues to provide children with an outlet in these difficult times using remote/online initiatives. With many other routine activities canceled, and amid rising anxiety ahead of hurricane season’s arrival, it is essential that children can maintain their routines and attend facilitated expressive sessions to build their resilience. Programming also addresses hygiene promotion, quarantine preparation, and expanding children’s coping mechanisms in times of stress.

With school closure since March 15th and limited access to electricity or the internet, IsraAID is working to supply child-safe data-enabled tablets, solar chargers, and data packages to provide the necessary platform for Abaco children and other displaced children in the Bahamas to continue their education online. To complement the distribution IsraAID is providing pamphlets for the children’s parents about the usage of the tablets and the Virtual School, cyber safety, psychosocial support, hygiene promotion, and Covid-19 background information.

Thank you for your support during this global crisis!

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Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in early September, severely damaging key infrastructure, and claiming the lives of at least 57 individuals with hundreds still missing. Windspeeds at more that 220 mph and storm surges reaching 23 feet caused widespread devastation, primarily affecting the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Power lines were downed and roads were destroyed, further exacerbating emergency response efforts.

IsraAID’s Emergency Response team arrived on the ground on September 5, 2019 and launched a rapid needs assessment to identify areas of intervention. IsraAID, in collaboration with its partners in the Bahamas focused on three main sectors of work: relief item distribution, providing Protection services and psychosocial support, and implementing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene programs to return access to safe water to affected communities.

IsraAID’s first water expert arrived in the Bahamas in early September, to asses and ascertain the major interventions needed on Grand Bahama. The team met and established partnerships with a variety of key local water actors, including the Bahama Water Authority, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and other NGOs providing immediate support on the island.

Upon arriving at the heavily-affected High Rock district located in the eastern part of Grand Bahama, the team detected and tested fresh water in numerous private wells. The team distributed 4 Sawyer water filters and trained local community members on their use, thus making this fresh water safe for drinking.

Unfortunately, the situation on High Rock was an isolated scenario. Other wells across the island were tested and had suffered high levels of salination, rendering Sawyer water filters insufficient to ensure water safety. The WASH engineer visited and tested additional communities and locations across the island, including Sweetings Cay, an area accessible only by boat from the eastern point of Grand Bahama, which had been devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

On September 29th, the team launched a widescale partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to establish water distribution centers. The first was established in Pineridge Urban Renewal Center located in Freeport, followed by two additional centers at Pinder’s Point and Eight Mile Rock, allowing the IsraAID team and its partners to provide more than 30,000 gallons of safe water over 4 weeks.

IsraAID’s WASH specialists continued to test the water in existing wells, and to track salinity levels, as well as the speed of the aquafer healing rate using specialized kits and GPS technology. An Israeli government hydrologist joined the IsraAID WASH team in October.

IsraAID’s WASH experts succeeded in providing water measurements and samples for a total of 25 wells on Grand Bahama and 25 wells on Abaco. These tests and measurements are currently being processed by the Grand Bahama Water Authority, to create a plan moving forward and addressing long-term water safety programs for residents of these islands.

In the coming months, IsraAID’s WASH programs will transition from these immediate, emergency response solutions toward long-term, crisis-resilient water systems, including aquifer rehabilitation processes and water harvesting plans, as part of sustainable, Disaster Risk Reduction efforts.

Thank you for your support!

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Hurricane Dorian flattened multiple islands in the Bahamas in early September, claiming the lives of at least 61 people, and  destroying water sources, roads, homes, and key infrastructure. With more than 650 still missing, the number of fatalities is expected to rise. 90% of buildings were destroyed or damaged in Abacao islands and Grand Bahama. Huge numbers of evacuees have since traveled to Nassau, the capital, and Freeport, where the local government established shelters. Others have stayed put in their communities, hoping to build back from the mass destruction that left them without a home, no safe water or electricity, and limited food and supplies. IsraAID arrived in the Bahamas on September 5, 2019 to begin a rapid needs assessment, distribute urgently needed relief items, ensure community access to safe water, and provide psychosocial support to affected populations.

Two main islands suffered serious devastation: Abaco and Grand Bahama. Since the storm, thousands have been evacuated to Nassau, where IsraAID is providing support. IsraAID is helping coordinate aid efforts in the affected areas. In addition, IsraAID deployed emergency response specialists to Florida to assist with initial procurement and shipping of relief supplies.

Following an initial needs assessment, the IsraAID team partnered with local organizations and agencies, including the Caribbean Israel Leadership Coalition of Churches (CILC); the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation; UNICEF; the National Emergency Management Agency; the Grand Bahama Port Authority; and the Ministries of Education, of Youth, Culture and Sports, and Social Services. Together, we are providing the following key activities in (1) Grand Bahama, (2) Abaco, and (3) Nassau, New Providence (for the evacuated population):

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Water sources on Grand Bahama have been seriously compromised as a result of the tide, storm surges, and flooding. Dangerous levels of salination, debris, and waste in water sources have deemed them unusable; and many water pumps for wells dependent on electricity are unable to function.

IsraAID has offered safe water solutions to affected communities, leading a collaboration of local community-based organizations with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to distribute large quantities of potable water, set up water distribution centers, and distribute sanitation and hygiene items. Local partners include the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Grand Bahama Water Authority. IsraAID WASH professionals are advising the local water authorities on rapid rehabilitation of aquifers to restore regular access to safe water. The team on the ground is currently assessing options for longterm sustainable safe water access, including water harvesting and ensuring that local institutions have resilient water systems. This aims to replace the ongoing water trucking project that IsraAID is currently supporting.


Protection for Affected Communities
Hurricane-affected communities are at high risk of severe psychological impact due to trauma and overwhelming instability. Vulnerable populations including women, children, ethnic minorities, and service providers are in particular need of support. In coordination with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, IsraAID’s protection team are implementing self-care and emotional wellbeing sessions for local community leaders, service providers, and school guidance counsellors. IsraAID and UNICEF have launched a series of trainings to equip education professionals with the skills and knowledge to provide psychosocial support to 10,000 evacuated children in host communities. We have already trained 41 teachers, 71 counsellors, and 41 community volunteers. IsraAID’s team will also operate at least 10 Child-Friendly Community Centers across three different islands, providing structure, activities, and support to children who have experienced the trauma of the hurricane, and training for
volunteers on child protection and case management.

Disaster Risk Reduction
The best time to focus on resiliency is right after crisis strikes, as communities are more focused on preventing what has just happened from happening again, and have recent, first-hand experience in identifying potential hazards. As such, IsraAID is planning to work within the school system in the Bahamas to develop emergency response plans for each community, rooted in the local school. This is an ideal point of intervention for cultivating a culture of prevention and hazard-awareness: children
represent one of the most vulnerable groups in emergencies, and schools are a natural confluence of society, where parents, staff, children, and local government meet and interact.

The IsraAID team will implement a pilot DRR curriculum for teachers and other staff members to promote a culture of prevention and develop school-specific emergency plans involving local community members. This program, currently in implementation by IsraAID teams in other post-disaster countries, including Guatemala, Dominica, and Mozambique, seeks to improve local preparation for potential disasters. Studies show that communities with plans in place preceding a crisis, are better able to bounce back afterwards.

IsraAID continues to monitor and respond to changing needs on the ground. Thank you for your support!!

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Organization Information

IsraAID

Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website:
Project Leader:
Molly Bernstein
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel

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