Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on September 1 as a deadly Category 5 storm. It stalled and spent more than 36 hours over the nation with winds of 185-220 miles per hour. The storm produced 12-15 inches of rain and a storm surge of 18-23 feet above sea level. As of September 20, the official death toll in the Bahamas is 52 and more than 1,300 people were missing, according to NEMA and the Bahamas Royal Police Force. The United Nations estimates that approximately 70,000 people in the Bahamas are in need of shelter and other basic needs.
Once Hurricane Dorian finally left the Bahamas, it made its way slowly towards the United States. It made landfall in North Carolina on September 6. The storm’s winds, rain and resulting tornadoes damaged coastal areas and knocked out power. Many of the people affected by Hurricane Dorian were also affected by Hurricane Florence last year.
Two weeks later, Tropical Storm Imelda struck Texas. It also brought echoes of a recent deadly storm: Hurricane Harvey. It made landfall on September 17 and spent several days drenching communities in and around Houston. It caused widespread flooding. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Imelda dumped more than 40 inches of rain in some parts of the Lone Star State.”
Hurricane Dorian: Bahamas
CWS staff joined an ACT Alliance rapid assessment team in the Bahamas on the week of September 12. The team saw first-hand the extent of the damage and some of the immediate needs in impacted areas. They noted that 7,000 houses were completely destroyed and buildings like hospitals, schools and hotels were badly damaged. As a result, families need shelter; students are out of school; and there is limited access to health and medical services. Destroyed roads and highways mean that transport is a key challenge for the relief effort. The team also observed that there is limited access to safe water; businesses are closed and employees are losing wages; and there are huge amounts of debris on the streets and in front of homes. Alongside our member denominations and ACT Latin America, we are working on medium- and long-term assessment plans that will follow ACT Alliance humanitarian standards and will help families build back better.
Hurricane Dorian: United States
We have shipped about $42,000 in supplies to North Carolina in immediate response to Hurricane Dorian. These included 182 CWS Blankets, 422 Emergency Cleanup Buckets, 360 Hygiene Kits and 180 School Kits. As we look toward medium- and long-term recovery efforts, we anticipate responding to additional needs that may arise given the particular needs of some vulnerable refugee and immigrant populations. Based on past responses, this support will likely look like mold remediation, replacing furniture and household items destroyed by flooding, and rent assistance.
Tropical Storm Imelda
As the floodwaters have been slowly receding, a need for CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets has emerged for families returning to flooded homes. We have shipped 2,100 cleanup buckets to agencies on the ground for distribution in affected areas. In all, we have shipped supplies valued at over $258,000 to Texas for Imelda response, including 810 CWS Blankets; 4,440 Hygiene Kits and 1,800 School Kits. Through our local partners–relationships built following Hurricane Harvey in 2017–we anticipate similar medium- and long-term response activities as we will conduct in North Carolina (mold remediation, replacing furniture and household items, and rent assistance).
How to Help
Donations to CWS hurricane response efforts can be made online at cwsglobal.org/2019hurricanes, sent to your denomination or sent to CWS (P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515). When sending a check to CWS, please designate 628-J, 2019 Hurricane Response.
Visit cwskits.org to learn more about assembling or donating CWS Kits.
CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.