Hurricanes in the Caribbean

International Medical Corps is responding in Puerto Rico, Florida, and across the Caribbean to ensure families are safe and have the resources they need to recover in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Hurricane Maria devastated many islands still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irma and exacerbated the crisis by wreaking havoc on islands such as Puerto Rico that had been spared Irma’s destruction.

Hurricane Maria Fast Facts
Hit Dominica on September 18th as Category 5 storm
All agricultural crops, 100% of medical facilities and 98% of homes in Dominica damaged by the storms
Made landfall over Puerto Rico on September 20th as Category 4 storm
Half of Puerto Rico still without power

Puerto Rico 

We are providing power, clean water, communications, and cash grants to 26 health facilities and local clinics that serve more than 63,000 people.

Caribbean 

We have deployed medical volunteers to support 14 health facilities as well as mobile medical units, providing more than 700 consultations.

Florida 

We continue to support local clinics in and around Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. In Miami-Dade County, we're helping to provide low or no-cost medication for vulnerable families, ensuring that they continue to receive care as they rebuild in the wake of the storms.

The Challenges

Lack of power & fuel

Most health facilities still do not have reliable sources of power in Puerto Rico

Limited access to clean water

Significant rehabilitation of water, sanitation and hygiene systems needed

Widespread damage

Over $51 billion in damages estimated across the Caribbean

Our Response: Week of November 6

Responding to Hurricanes Irma and Maria

International Medical Corps’ disaster response experts are on the ground in Puerto Rico and Dominica, coordinating with response agencies and local organizations in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This includes supporting health system recovery, running mobile medical units, restoring access to power and safe drinking water, and distributing emergency relief items. We are also supporting recovery efforts in Florida.

Puerto Rico

After arriving to Puerto Rico within days of Hurricane Maria, continues to collaborate with the La Asociación de Salud Primaria de Puerto Rico (ASPPR), a network of nearly 76 health clinics focused on providing care to low-income families across the island.

Power outages continue to make it difficult to operate health facilities, with many clinics resorting to limiting the hours they are open or providing care in smaller spaces that can be powered by a generator. Maintaining a cold chain for many urgently needed medications, especially those for chronic care, has been a challenge.

We provided seven generators to clinics and San Juan-area hospitals that would otherwise have severely limited or no operating capacity. In addition, we have provided water bladders with a 500-gallon storage capacity to health facilities help increase access to potable water at hard-hit facilities. We are also working with a partner organization to restore internet and communications capabilities for ASPPR and distributing solar lights to clinics. Our team is also looking at how we can support the supply of medications across the island, especially those that require cold storage and transport.

“Our facility in Utuado is hard to access. We have to use large, commercial trucks, which limits the supply of water and fuel – two essential inputs to safely and regularly operate the clinic there. This grant will allow us to supplement the deliveries of fuel and water using smaller, private vehicles and ensure we are able to maintain our normal working hours with sufficient inputs to treat people in a clean, functional facility in a community that was highly affected [by Hurricane Maria].”  -Señor Dionisio Medina, Project Manager, Corporacion de Servicios Medicos (CSM) – Hatillo

As immediate relief efforts begin to shift into recovery, International Medical Corps is providing power, clean water, communications, and cash grants to 26 health facilities and local clinics that reach more than 63,000 people. This includes  $100,000 in cash grants, which will allow clinics to purchase fuel, make minor infrastructure improvements, support staff wellness activities, and other recovery efforts. A second phase of cash grants to ASPPR is in development. In addition, we have distributed 8,000 hygiene kits as well as wound care kits, solar lights, and other supplies that can help families stay healthy in the aftermath of crises.

International Medical Corps is expanding its efforts to help Puerto Ricans access health care with mobile medical units, which will provide home visits for patients in hard-hit communities who are unable to travel to health facilities for treatment.

Dominica

In Dominica, International Medical Corps has deployed medical teams to support hospitals and clinics that continue to see patients despite some of the island’s medical facilities remaining non-operational. Our volunteer medical teams, comprised of doctors and nurses, have been deployed to some of the hardest hit areas of the island in St. John and St. Andrew’s parish—home to a combined 18,000 people and some of the island’s most heavily populated areas. The teams are supporting hospitals and community health clinics, relieving overworked staff, and making home visits to vulnerable households, including the elderly and single-headed households. As of November 10, more than 700 medical consultations were provided by our medical teams.

At the same time, our pharmacists are working with the Ministry of Health and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to help restore the pharmaceutical supply chain in Dominica. This includes providing critical medicines and medical supplies—known as an International Emergency Health Kit—that we delivered to Dominica to help provide care for up to 10,000 people for three months. These medicines and supplies were distributed to Salibya Health Center, Princess Margaret Hospital, and Newtown health facility.

International Medical Corps, in collaboration with Pharmacists Without Borders/Pharmaciens Sans Frontières, is also supporting the Central Medical Store (CMS) of Dominica’s Ministry of Health. Rotating teams of two volunteer pharmacists are assisting the CMS to sort, organize, and inventory medicines and supplies. They have also updated stock records, inventory levels, and established records of medical demand based on consumption. In the coming week, the teams will facilitate pharmaceutical distribution from the CMS to hospitals and clinics, providing supply chain support that will ensure local facilities and communities have access to the care and supplies they need.

In addition, International Medical Corps is trucking 400 gallons of safe drinking water twice a day in seven communities. At the same time, we are working with the Dominican Water and Sanitation Company to repair public water systems. To complement the water trucking, we are also working to hire community health workers who will promote hygiene and health practices in their communities. In addition, 3,000 health kits are en route to Dominica to further support healthy hygiene practices.

International Medical Corps is also expanding its services to include mental health and psychosocial support, including psychological first aid training for local first responders.

“This country has been devastated, and there are still thousands and thousands of people without homes, without clothes, without fresh water, or clean water, without roofs on their houses, those whose homes weren’t destroyed. The schools still aren’t open. There’s still no electricity. And I think a lot of work needs to be done to help them.” -Dr. Melinda Brecknell, a volunteer with International Medical Corps in Dominica

Earlier in our response, with transportation across Dominica and other Caribbean islands severely limited in the immediate aftermath of the storms, International Medical Corps provided an air bridge with regular flights into Dominica, Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands to transport medical volunteers, first responders, patients, and government officials to the most devastated regions. In addition, these flights were able to transport urgently-needed medical supplies and equipment. The air bridge, which ran from September 29 to October 31, transported 328 people, including Ministry of Health officials, International Medical Corps staff, medical volunteer teams, patients, and other first responders as well as 71,000 pounds of cargo that included medical equipment, specimen samples, and lifesaving relief.

Antigua, Haiti and Across the Caribbean

On other Caribbean islands, we have focused on getting health systems back up and running. In addition to providing daily flights from Dominica in the immediate aftermath of the storms, we also funded charters to the British Virgin Islands and Antigua to facilitate the movement of humanitarian workers and supplies. We have also mobilized hygiene kits for hard-hit communities across the Caribbean, including 2,000 kits distributed to displaced Barbudans and Dominicans now in Antigua. We are also partnering with the University of the West Indies to support the mental health and psychosocial needs of storm survivors.

At the same time, our team in northern Haiti continues to operate mobile medical units that can respond to flare-ups of cholera—a risk that could increase as a result of heavy rainfall. The team is looking at ways they can plus up support to help prevent a spike in cholera cases and working to identify additional relief that might be needed.

Florida

International Medical Corps is also working with a local network of 30 clinics in Florida that reach 80,000 underserved men, women, and children in and around Fort Myers. With many of the clinic staff displaced from their homes, International Medical Corps is providing sanitation facilities to help them return to work. We are also working to restore power and the network’s clinic in Bonita Springs, which serves some 30,000 people. In addition, we are also partnering with a clinic network in Miami-Dade County, helping to provide low or no-cost medication for vulnerable families, ensuring that they continue to receive care for chronic diseases like diabetes, and easing their financial burden as they recover and rebuild in the wake of the storms.

Update from Puerto Rico: October 23

An update on the situation in Puerto Rico from International Medical Corps' Medical Technical Advisor Dr. Hernando Garzon

Update from Dominica: September 25

An update on the situation in Dominica from International Medical Corps' Director of Emergency Response

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