Hurricane Irma turned into a powerful category 5 hurricane and has already affected various Eastern Caribbean islands, Hispanola and Turks and Caicos and is currently affecting Cuba and the Bahamas and is in route for the United States. Irma has since been downgrade to category 4, but is still considered a massive storm and is expected to continue to cause significant damage.
Hurricane Jose, a category 4 hurricane is following just a few days behind Irma, but is beginning to shift north as it enters the Caribbean. However, this shift was not before affecting the Eastern Caribbean islands already hit by Irma. Strong winds and heavy rainfall is expected for Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, among others.
The hurricanes have brought strong winds, heavy rains and a storm surge that raised water levels. The hurricane has led to flooding, electricity and water shortages, and damages to road and communication infrastructure, buildings and agriculture.
Barbuda and St. Martin are the most affected islands according to initial reports. Significant damages have also been reported in Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Britsh Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.
About two hundred thousand people were affected across the Eastern Caribbean, including in territories of the US (US Virgin Islands), UK (British Virgin Islands, Anguilla), France (St. Martin) and the Netherlands (St. Maarten). The most vulnerable populations will need critical lifesaving food assistance in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Under this operation, WFP plans to provide an immediate food assistance through High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) to support 16,700 people and cash based transfers (CBT) to 20,000 people.
Immediate food assistance in form of HEBs will be airlifted from Haiti to Antigua for further distribution in the Caribbean according to the needs determined for each location. In addition, through a Special Operation, WFP will transport and provide critical non-food items, including five mobile storage units (MSUs), tarpaulins, two prefabs, generators and other logistics support equipment.
CBT modalities will be rapidly developed with partners based on the situation of each country/island. Where feasible, assistance will be provided through government social protection programmes in order to utilize existing mechanisms.
Antigua will serve as the main WFP hub for the Eastern Caribbean to ensure coordination with the UN System, CDEMA and other actors. Both the IRM EMOP and the SO will be run out of Antigua, which will cover operations in Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis.
The IR EMOP will be implemented from 11 September to 10 December 2017