As hurricanes devastated islands across the Caribbean from August to November 2008, the British Red Cross appealed for urgent funds in order to respond. Thanks to the generosity of the public, we raised £235,000.
Turks and Caicos Islands
On 1 September 2008, Tropical Storm Hanna hit the Turks and Caicos Islands. It stayed over and around the islands for three days, increasing to a category 1 hurricane with intense winds and torrential rain. There was significant flooding and 750 people lost their homes. The island of Providenciales was affected by flooding with damage to houses and roads. The causeway between the islands of North, Middle, South, Caicos and Salt Cay was swept away.
The Turks and Caicos Islands were then hit again, on 6 September 2008, by Hurricane Ike – a category 4 hurricane – particularly devastating Grand Turk, a low lying island, with an estimated 80 per cent of housing damaged of which 20 per cent was severely damaged. An estimated 6,950 people have been affected on Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay, and several thousand on Providenciales.
Infrastructure including houses and public buildings were severely damaged. Priority needs include materials for shelter, essential household items, clean water and reconstruction and health personnel.
Hurricane Gustav brought strong winds and heavy flooding to Haiti on 26 August 2008, affecting thousands of people. On 1 September 2008, only days after Gustav hit Haiti, Tropical Storm Hanna surprised the country, worsening the effects of Gustav and leaving more people affected, especially in the city of Gonaives.
The country was still reeling from the passage of Hanna when Hurricane Ike left even more people affected as it passed north of the island.
Some power lines went down and roads were flooded, blocked by landslides and littered with debris. Heavy rains exacerbated the flooding and aid efforts were complicated by the inaccessibility of some areas.
According to Haitian government statistics, a total of 793 people lost their lives, 310 were declared missing and 548 were injured. The damage to homes and infrastructure was unprecedented affecting 165,337 families. It is estimated that 22,702 families’ homes were completely destroyed and another 84,625 families’ homes were damaged.
In Cuba, Gustav was the worst hurricane to hit the country in 50 years. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike caused serious damage to buildings and infrastructure across the entire island. An estimated 320,000 houses were destroyed or damaged.
Over 25,900 tons of agricultural crops were lost and there is widespread damage to infrastructure, including schools, health centres and telecommunications.
On 8 November 2008, Hurricane Paloma hit the island of Cuba while still recovering from the vast damages caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike and tropical storms Fay and Hanna.
Thanks to the preventive measures taken by the Cuban authorities and organisations such as the Cuban Red Cross, no human lives were lost. Preliminary reports indicate around 328 hectares of crops, which were in the recovery phase from Hurricane Ike, were lost. There were disruptions in the sugar and fishing industry. The housing sector also sustained loses, with more than 8,000 houses damaged.
Tropical Storm Gustav hit Jamaica on 28 and 29 August 2008, causing extensive rain and wind damage to infrastructure and personal items. According to the National Emergency Operations Centre, a total of 72 communities were affected, many suffering from landslides, flooding and torrential winds. A total of 12 fatalities were confirmed as a result of Tropical Storm Gustav. More than 460 houses were totally destroyed and more than 2,000 sustained major damage.
The Ministry of Agriculture reported damages to 70 per cent of the banana crops in St Mary, 80 per cent in St Thomas and 90 per cent in Portland. Preliminary estimates reveal that the overall agricultural sector sustained damages totaling 1.7 billion Jamaican dollars (nearly £13,000).
In the Bahamas, the islands of Inagua and Mayaguana were hit hardest by Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike, with 500 families’ homes severely damaged. The Red Cross is particularly concerned that a salt plant which employs the majority of the inhabitants on Inagua was damaged, posing a threat to people’s livelihoods.
More about the Caribbean hurricanes
What we did to help