Hurricane Dean: Jamaica picks up the pieces as Mexico feels the storm’s impact
© AP Photo/Leighton
Residents of the coastal Bullbay neighbourhood survey the damage from a storm surge that wiped out their property during Hurricane Dean’s pass just south of Jamaica on 19 August.
By Tim Ledwith
NEW YORK, USA, 21 August 2007 – UNICEF and its humanitarian partners in the Caribbean region are taking action to protect children and families from the effects of Hurricane Dean, as Jamaica picks up the pieces from a battering it took on Sunday and Mexico feels Dean's fierce impact today. The hurricane, which had intensified into a Category 5 storm, struck the Yucatan peninsula near the city of Chetumal early this morning, local time. Reuters reported that Chetumal was left without electricity when sustained winds of 265 kilometres per hour knocked down power lines and trees. In neighbouring Belize, authorities said they expected the country to experience the hurricane’s impact for close to six hours.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dean’s broad target area stretches from Honduras and Belize to the US Gulf Coast. Forecasters say the storm has weakened over land but remains dangerous.
Destruction in Jamaica
Before hitting Mexico, the hurricane passed just south of Jamaica on 19 August. Strong winds and heavy rain triggered mudslides, blocked roads, felled trees and power lines, and damaged roofs across a wide area.“Some communities have been cut off because of landslides and water surges from the ocean,” UNICEF Representative in Jamaica Bertrand Bainvel said in a telephone interview yesterday. “The most affected areas seem to be the eastern and southern parishes of Jamaica,” he continued. “We estimate up to 300,000 people affected, and up to 90,000 of those are children.”
Meeting Jamaican children’s needs
UNICEF Jamaica has ordered relief supplies to aid the affected population, including emergency health kits and water containers, which are to be delivered by mid-week, Mr. Bainvel said. Most of the island remains deprived of electricity and running water, he reported.
In the hurricane’s aftermath, UNICEF anticipates that the greatest needs will be in the areas of basic health, safe water and sanitation, psychosocial support and education for children in stricken areas. “Even though children are not in school now, they are expected to go back to school in September. We have to make sure schools affected and families preparing [for the new school year] are assisted,” said Mr. Bainvel.
UNICEF is also focused on protection of vulnerable children, whose needs and rights are often forgotten in emergency situations such as this, the UNICEF Representative noted. “But we have to keep an eye on Belize and then on Mexico, who are in the path of the hurricane,” he added.
Preparedness in Mexico
In another phone interview yesterday, UNICEF Representative in Mexico Susana Sottoli explained that an emergency had already been declared in three states – Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche – as Hurricane Dean approached.