Monday, September 08, 2008

Faye, Gustav and Ike

Posting has been light in the last few weeks because, frankly, I don’t have much of anything interesting to report. September marks the end of out fiscal year, so I am busy trying to wrap up project finances and get a lot done in a short amount of time. Knowing that this time of year is the busiest, Mother Nature has decided that it is a perfect time to wreak havoc on the Caribbean and send several hurricanes or tropical storms our way.

The first was Faye. Faye dumped a lot of rain on Santo Domingo. Faye was particularly bad timing for me because it hit on the Friday of the weekend that I was supposed to move into my new apartment and leave for a work trip to Nicaragua. It was also the weekend I got my first Dominican stomach virus. I won’t disgust you with the details, but it was the absolute worst weekend for the water to go out.

The second to hit was Gustav. Gustav was definitely the biggest concern for us. It was a category 1 hurricane over the DR and Haiti. Now, when a hurricane threatens Jamaica, I am supposed to go before the storm hits and coordinate out relief efforts. On Tuesday, all indications were that Gustav was going to bypass Jamaica completely and head straight for Cuba. So imagine my surprise on Wednesday morning to see the strange little hook Gustav took. It was headed straight for eastern Jamaica. By that point it was too late for me to go to Jamaica, so I had to monitor efforts from Santo Domingo. Our partners in Jamaica were decidedly not concerned, which was a bit frustrating for me while I was trying to determine what the needs were and what we would do to respond to the most vulnerable’s needs. Luckily, Gustav really only caused serious damage in eastern Jamaica, in the parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, and St. Andrew. I’m still waiting on my damage assessment reports from our partners!

And now we have Hurricane Ike. We were really concerned about Ike since it was upgraded to a Category 4 storm before hitting the DR. On Friday and Saturday you would have never known that a hurricane was about to hit- we had gorgeous weather, 80 degrees and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. On Sunday evening it started to rain heavily, and is doing so right now.

Needless to say, we’ve been on alert all this time. Although many parts have not fared well, for the most part the DR and Jamaica have escaped with no serious damage. Haiti, sadly, has not done well. Our office in Haiti has had real trouble in accessing the most affected parts and continues to suffer. Unfortunately, this is only the middle of hurricane season, and Tropical Storm Josephine is close behind. Here’s hoping we don’t get hammered again later on.

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