Hurricane Dorian: What You Need To Know
Hurricane Dorian has caused catastrophic destruction in the Bahamas as a massive Category 5 storm. Project HOPE is on the ground helping assess the damage and meet people’s urgent needs. Get the facts about this storm and learn more about how you can help now.
One of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record
Hurricane Dorian entered the Caribbean as a tropical storm and rapidly intensified into one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. After passing east of Puerto Rico, Dorian moved north toward the Bahamas and slammed into the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island as a devastating Category 5 hurricane. Reports show absolute destruction on Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, where Dorian’s sustained winds reached 185 miles per hour — the strongest storm to ever hit the Bahamas.1
Project HOPE is on the ground in the Bahamas, delivering urgent medical supplies and preparing its medical team to support emergency response efforts where needed.
The Latest Developments
September 13, 2019: Project HOPE Opens First Wellness Station to Support Displaced Survivors from Hurricane Dorian
Project HOPE’s emergency response team has opened its first wellness station in Nassau to help meet the health needs of evacuees from Hurricane Dorian. The station, located inside the Fox Hill Community Shelter, includes a triage and exam area where HOPE is assisting in the treatment of patients for medical issues such as urinary tract infection, upper respiratory infection, wound infection, chest pain, hyperglycemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease and asthma. Additional needs the team observed were primarily related to heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
HOPE is working alongside staff from Elizabeth Estates Hospital, which operates the shelter clinic. Anticipated future needs inside the clinic include inventory supply and management, pharmaceutical needs, staffing, continued clinic setup and hygiene supplies.
HOPE will continue to establish wellness check areas in coordination with shelters as needed and has begun to identify future locations. Five medical volunteers (two medical doctors, two registered nurses and a pharmacist) will be joining the team next week to expand this effort and continue providing needed health assistance and support to hurricane survivors.
September 11, 2019: Project HOPE Continues Emergency Support as Another Tropical System Eyes the Bahamas
As more evacuees arrive in Nassau from Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, Project HOPE continues distributions of medical supplies and support for communities as they face monumental recovery from Hurricane Dorian.
The number of evacuees in Nassau has more than doubled in the last three days and is now over 2,000. To help meet their immediate health needs, our emergency response team in Nassau is opening a wellness station where our registered nurse will do blood pressure checks, lung/breathing checks and glucose tests for evacuees.
Project HOPE has also distributed an additional 1,000 hygiene kits donated by MAP International to the Adventist Development & Relief Agency, which is operating in Freeport, Grand Bahama and in Nassau. HOPE continues its support for Marsh Harbour Community Clinic on Abaco and has helped establish a pharmaceutical inventory system to manage donations and supplies.
Communities on Abaco and Grand Bahama Island are preparing for the risk of additional flooding and storm damage as a tropical system impacts the Bahamas later this week. The storm, which could develop into Tropical Storm Humberto, will likely bring an additional one to three inches of rain to communities already facing enormous recovery from Hurricane Dorian. Project HOPE is monitoring the storm and is ready to assist as needed.
September 9, 2019: Project HOPE Continues to Support Emergency Response in Marsh Harbour and Nassau
Project HOPE today delivered essential supplies like insulin needles and phenobarbital to Marsh Harbour Community Clinic on Abaco Island. Though most people have evacuated Abaco for shelter in Nassau, many remain behind to receive medical treatment; immediate needs include water, food, medicines and hygiene and sanitation supplies.
As evacuees arrive in Nassau, our team is focused on working with shelters to help assess their health needs while continuing our support for those in Abaco.
“At some point, people are going to want to go back home — maybe not all of them, but certainly some will,” says Tom Cotter, Project HOPE’s director of emergency response. “We have to have systems in place to support them through reconstruction. It’s difficult to look past the next day or two, but we really need to start taking a multi-week approach to this, which we will. Project HOPE is not only meeting immediate needs, but we’re looking to restore the health care infrastructure in the affected areas.”
September 8, 2019: First Distribution of Medical Supplies Delivered to Marsh Harbour Community Clinic on Abaco
One week after Hurricane Dorian devastated the island of Abaco, the first distribution of medical supplies has been delivered to the island’s Marsh Harbour Community Clinic via helicopter. The delivery includes trauma supplies, gauze, bandages, diapers and cleaning supplies for the hospital.
As waters have receded around Marsh Harbour’s airport, many people from the island have been able to evacuate, though the hospital still faces critical shortages of medicines and supplies including insulin needles and phenobarbital, a drug to treat seizures. Project HOPE is working to coordinate delivery of these items as quickly as possible.
Additionally, Project HOPE has delivered 1,000 hygiene kits donated by MAP International to Fox Hill Community Center in Nassau. These kits include items like shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, deodorant, washcloth and a first-aid kit.
We remain very concerned about water quality and the storm’s impact on water infrastructure and are monitoring the possibility of disease outbreak closely.
Friday September 6, 2019: Project HOPE Coordinates First Emergency Deliveries to Abaco
Project HOPE’s emergency response team remains on the ground in Nassau, coordinating with Restoration Abaco to assess the most pressing needs and deliver emergency medical supplies.
A barge loaded with critically needed items including soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, diapers and first aid kits is currently on its way to Abaco and expected to arrive Saturday morning. Additionally, a shipment of 2,160 disaster hygiene kits donated by MAP International has arrived in Nassau and should be transported to Abaco, also on Saturday. Access to the island remains extremely challenging as the airport can only accommodate small planes and only steel-hulled vessels can navigate the debris in the water.
“I haven’t seen destruction like this in quite some time,” says Tom Cotter, Project HOPE’s director of emergency response. “It’s breathtaking. There’s going to continue to be a need here for quite some time as people start to rebuild. The most important thing is that we get back and start sending medicine and medical supplies now. Now that we have a needs list, we know exactly what they need and we’re going to get it to them.”
Thursday, September 5, 2019: Project HOPE Is Assessing Damage in Abaco
Project HOPE is on the ground in the Bahamas, working to gain access to the affected areas and organize shipments of medicines and supplies. This morning, Tom Cotter, Project HOPE’s director of emergency response, took a plane to Abaco with partners from Restoration Abaco to assess needs and survey damage. All buildings and structures observed were damaged or destroyed, but there are signs of that survivors are beginning the difficult task of cleaning up and rebuilding.
“Hurricane Dorian had sustained winds of 185 mph. Any object hitting you at that speed will cause serious injury.”
At the hospital, Cotter saw a waiting room packed with patients, most with traumatic injuries. “Hurricane Dorian had sustained winds of 185 mph. Any object hitting you at that speed will cause serious injury,” he says. With nowhere else to go, many survivors are setting up tents on the hospital lawn. The U.S. Coast Guard is evacuating the most seriously injured by helicopter to either Nassau or Miami.
Access to the island remains difficult. A moat of water surrounds the airport runway, and the control tower is down. Small eight-seater planes are landing and taking off three at a time, carrying survivors to Nassau. Evacuation to safety and shelter is an excruciatingly slow process.
A shipment of more than 2,100 disaster hygiene kits is expected to arrive in Nassau tomorrow, where a portion of them will be transported to Abaco for distribution by our local partner Restoration Abaco. A barge that was loaded yesterday with hygiene kits, drinking water, medicines and medical supplies is expected to leave tonight. Also en route to the Bahamas is an Interagency Emergency Health Kit – one ton of medicines and supplies that serves 30,000 people for three months.
Our team says that the needs they observed in Abaco were extensive, including trauma response at the hospital. To support our emergency relief efforts and all of our lifesaving work around the world, please visit projecthope.org/respond.
Wednesday, September 4, 2019: Project HOPE Is on the Ground in the Bahamas
Project HOPE’s initial response team landed in Nassau today and met with the Office of the Prime Minister and senior health officials to closely coordinate our response. We’ve teamed up with Restoration Abaco, a local Bahamian organization founded three days ago, “born of tragedy” and committed to the relief and recovery of their own.
Together we loaded a barge in Nassau with hygiene kits, four pallets of drinking water, medicines and medical supplies. Weather permitting, the barge will set sail early Thursday morning for the 10- to 12-hour journey to Abaco, where the items will be distributed.
Our team says that although Nassau shows little physical sign that a major storm passed through, the trauma of Nassau residents and those who evacuated here is evident: “I’ve never seen the level of trauma following a disaster that I’m seeing here,” says Tom Cotter, Project HOPE’s director of emergency response.
“Everywhere we go, people are crying.”
Tuesday September 3, 2019: Project HOPE Deploys Emergency Team to the Bahamas
As Hurricane Dorian continues on its destructive path, Project HOPE is deploying an emergency response team to the Bahamas for arrival by Wednesday morning. The first team we are mobilizing includes a physician, nurse practitioner and logistician, in addition to our director of emergency response. Some 30 Project HOPE doctors, nurses and pharmacists are ready to deploy as soon as is feasible. We are also working with partners to organize shipments of hygiene kits and other essential supplies to the Bahamas. The situation on the ground remains fluid but we know the damage is extreme and that severe flooding is hampering rescue efforts.
At Project HOPE, we go where the need is greatest. To support our emergency relief efforts and all of our lifesaving work around the world, please visit projecthope.org/respond.
Monday September 2, 2019: Project HOPE Gets Ready For Hurricane Dorian
As Hurricane Dorian makes its way to the United States, the global health and humanitarian organization Project HOPE is building its medical team and coordinating with partners to prepare to ship urgently needed health supplies to impacted areas along the coastal U.S. The organization is also prepared to support emergency response efforts in the Bahamas, should the government request international assistance.
“Considering Dorian’s strength, we must be ready to respond as soon as moving people and supplies into affected areas is feasible. That’s why we’re working now to put our medical team on standby,” says Chris Skopec, executive vice president of Global Health at Project HOPE.
“From past experience, we know that local health workers will be as affected as their neighbors, and we will be ready to support them in the aftermath of the storm.”
Get The Facts: What You Need To Know and How To Help
About Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded and the strongest to ever hit the Bahamas. Early reports from the Bahamas show complete devastation on some islands, and government officials have warned that with so many people unaccounted for, the death toll could be “staggering.”2
As Dorian heads north, the greatest risk to the U.S. is storm surge, tornadoes and dangerous winds. A hurricane warning is in effect for parts of North Carolina, where residents are currently feeling the storm’s impact.
How strong was Dorian when it made landfall? How does it compare to previous hurricanes? What are the greatest needs facing the Bahamas? Get the quick facts below.
How strong was Hurricane Dorian when it made landfall?
Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane before making landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm.
Dorian tied the record for the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic and was the strongest to ever hit the Bahamas. Part of the reason the damage is so widespread is because Dorian slowed to a 1-mile-per-hour crawl over the islands, pounding them for nearly 48 hours with torrential rains and winds that can tear apart buildings.
What happened in the Bahamas?
Dorian has caused “unprecedented” damage on the Bahamian islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama Island. Government officials have warned that the death toll could be “staggering.”
Bahamas prime minister Hubert Minnis has said that the damage on the islands is “unprecedented” and that the Bahamas are in “the midst of a historical tragedy.”3
The Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island in particular suffered catastrophic damage. The Abacos are a sparsely populated chain of islands, cays and rocks that are mostly inhabited by fishermen, manual laborers and Haitian immigrants. The prime minister has said that reports there are that “whole towns have been wiped out and devastated.”4 Officials have warned that the death toll could be very high.
How does this storm compare to recent hurricanes?
Dorian is one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic and the first Category 5 storm to hit Grand Bahama Island.
Dorian’s sustained wind speeds when it made landfall in the Bahamas were 185 miles per hour—stronger than Hurricane Michael (2018), Hurricane Irma (2018) and Hurricane Maria (2017). Its sustained winds tied the record for landfall in the Atlantic, which was set in 1935.5 Before Dorian, a Category 5 storm had never hit Grand Bahama Island.
According to the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, Category 1 winds (Dorian’s status when it made landfall in North Carolina) can cause “very dangerous winds,” with power outages that could last for days. The Category 5 winds that hit the Bahamas are catastrophic and can level entire buildings.
What is the greatest need?
The full scope of damage in the Bahamas isn’t yet known, but areas that suffered the highest levels of devastation will need immediate medical care and urgent supplies like emergency food, clean water and shelter.
While it will take some time to understand the full scope of damage in the Bahamas, early reports show complete devastation on Grand Bahama Island and Abaco. The United Nations estimates more than 60,000 people in the Bahamas will need food, while the Red Cross estimates that 62,000 people will need access to clean drinking water as flooding contaminates wells with saltwater. As many as 13,000 houses may have been destroyed.6
Many people have been evacuated from Abaco, though some remain in the island’s hospital to receive medical treatment. Our team on the ground in the Bahamas reports that the hospital in Abaco is facing shortages of basic medicines and medical supplies, including insulin needles and phenobarbital, a drug to treat seizures. Current health priorities as observed by our team include helping the critically wounded and providing mental health support for people suffering from emotional distress since the storm.
What is Project HOPE doing to help?
Project HOPE is on the ground in the Bahamas, based in Nassau, working with our partners to help meet the health needs of evacuees and deliver urgently needed supplies and medicines to the devastated island of Abaco.
Project HOPE has delivered essential medical supplies to Abaco’s Marsh Harbour Community Clinic, including trauma supplies, gauze, bandages, diapers, cleaning supplies, insulin needles and phenobarbital. Additionally, we have delivered more than 2,000 hygiene kits donated by MAP International to shelters in Nassau and on Grand Bahama Island. These kits include items like shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, deodorant, washcloth and a first-aid kit.
Additionally, HOPE has opened a wellness station in Nassau to help assist in the treatment of patients for medical needs including urinary tract infection, upper respiratory infection, wound infection, chest pain, hyperglycemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease and asthma.
Project HOPE has the ability to rapidly get shipments approved, cleared and distributed and continues to accept offers of donated goods, including medical equipment, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, water purification units and hygiene kits.
Project HOPE has a roster of 42 volunteer doctors, nurses and pharmacists on standby, and HOPE and Restoration Abaco are working with the Ministry of Health for approval, assignment and deployment of these medical personnel. We also have engineers on standby for deployment to assist with access to clean water and solar power in affected areas. These experts will be deployed upon the request of the Bahamian authorities.
If you are a company interested in donating health and hygiene related products, please contact Emily Lauer-Bader at 301-841-9985.
You can help!
Our ability to respond quickly when hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters strike, even as we continue our lifesaving work around the world, depends on the generosity of people like you.
Please make a generous donation to our Global Health Emergency Fund today. You’ll help us prepare for emergencies before they happen and respond quickly when disaster strikes, so we can help communities around the world when we’re needed most.