Hurricanes and their impact on Cuba and the Dominican Republic

Hurricanes and their impact on Cuba and the Dominican Republic

In 2022, the months of July and August were tranquil for tropical storm activity. But everything changed in September with two powerful and devastating hurricanes such as Fiona and Ian. After engaging with the situation in Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Caribbean Office expanded its assessment to the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Partners in both countries shared with the Office how devastating has been the passing of hurricanes Fiona and Ian, respectively.

Regarding the Dominican Republic, it is crucial to point out that Hurricane Fiona was the first hurricane to directly impact the island since hurricane Jeanne in 2004. On Monday, September 19th, at 3:30 am, hurricane Fiona entered the Dominican Republic as a category 1 with strong winds of up to 150 km/h. It produced heavy rains, landslides, fallen bridges, road blockages, power outages, interrupted telecommunications, and overflowed dams, among other effects. Twelve provinces have suffered the most damage so far because of Hurricane Fiona’s passage through the country. The report indicated that 2,614 homes were affected, 457 partially affected, and 4 destroyed, as well as 2 people dead and over 12,000 displaced. The National Council for Disability (CONADIS) announced that it is working on identifying the needs of people with disabilities in the provinces declared in a state of emergency.

The Dominican Evangelical Church (IED) assesses the damages caused by the hurricane through the Eastern and Northeast regions. The Reverend Miguel Angel Cancú reported on the work of the church accompanying victims and assessing damages through the provinces of Samaná, Sánchez, San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana, La Altagracia (Higuey), Bávaro, Punta Cana, Hato Mayor, and El Seybo. The damages caused have been demolished bridges, flooding of rivers, loss of houses, and the loss of crops. IED provides medical attention and follow-up and delivers water, food, first aid kits, and clothing to those in need.

Regarding Cuba and Hurricane Ian, the President of the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC), the Reverend Joel Ortega Dopico, sent a report to us stating the following:

“Ian affected the Island of Youth as it passed through the south of Cuba, causing severe damage and entering the westernmost province of Cuba, Pinar del Río, through the town of La Coloma, with category 3, sustained winds of 205 km/h and gusts. Higher, also caused damage in the surrounding provinces. Its slow travel speed caused the impacts to last for 8 hours, from after 3 am until almost noon on Monday, September 27th. Much of the infrastructure, housing, agriculture, electrical, and telephone services have been devastated. The entire country was left without electricity. For the first time, a blackout of the whole national territory caused by the effects of the hurricane added to the energy crisis that the country has been experiencing for several months. It is estimated that there will be a long delay in even a partial restoration of the electrical service. This hurricane affected the western region of Cuba and the entire country amid a massive socio-economic and health crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the critical energy scenario, and the proliferation of dengue in recent months in Cuba. The country is still working hard to recover from a large and unprecedented fire in one of the fuel tanks located at the Supertanker Base on the outskirts of the western city of Matanzas. The first response has consisted in providing support to the affected people and their families, as well as evacuees with medicines, basic food, and spiritual accompaniment, all from local churches and other nearby provinces and ecumenical member organizations of the CIC. The present needs consist of access to food, safe water, medicines, family support services, and infrastructure for housing, schools, children’s circles, grandparents’ homes, old people’s homes, and all kinds of public buildings.

Churches and ecumenical organizations in the Dominican Republic and Cuba are discovering the presence of Jesus Christ among the people in need. “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you gave me clothing, I was sick, and you took care of me….” Matthew 25:35-36. Let’s continue our work to accompany them in times of pain and sorrow. You can make a gift towards the recovery work by following the links