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At a glance: Dominican Republic

UNICEF delivers supplies to Dominican families affected by Tropical Storm Noel

© UNICEF Dominican Republic/2007/Gonzalez
Natalia Mota and her son Will, 5, left homeless by Tropical Storm Noel, are receiving essential supplies from UNICEF and its partners in the Dominican Republic.

SANTO DOMINGO OESTE, Dominican Republic, 7 November 2007 – The damage caused by Tropical Storm Noel has been staggering for the Dominican Republic.

Almost 85 people here were killed by the storm and at least 48 more are missing, while some 17,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Although over 4,000 people were rescued from the raging floodwaters triggered by Noel, tens of thousands more have been displaced and 137 communities are still isolated – due in part to scores of damaged bridges and highways.

Some families affected by the torrential rains of the recent tropical storm have found shelter at the Las Américas School in Manoguayabo, a suburb of Santo Domingo. UNICEF and the Dominican Red Cross have been delivering food and hygiene supplies to the families at the school, where children account for about a quarter of the more than 265 temporary residents.

Families cope with losses

Natalia Mota is just one of many people at the school who are feeling uncertain about what the future holds. She has four children between the ages of 5 and 14 and is here with Will, her youngest. Before the rains, she earned money for herself and her family by selling food. Now, she says, she has lost everything, including her house.

© UNICEF Dominican Republic/2007/Gonzalez
UNICEF and Red Cross personnel unload emergency supplies for distribution in Manoguayabo, Santo Domingo Oeste.

“I feel both good and bad. I am thankful for your assistance but I lost everything and it’s hard. I must accept God’s will,” she says as she receives food supplies from UNICEF staff.

Ramona Bautista, another mother holding her 18-month-old baby, is waiting to go back home but does not know if and when that will be possible – which is especially worrisome as she is seven months pregnant.

Hoping to rebuild

Despite their precarious situation, the children at Las Américas can be seen playing on the school grounds. In the courtyard, a group of mothers watch as public health representatives teach them how to purify their drinking water.

The families here have lost everything: their homes, their clothes and all their belongings.

Yet, struggling with their anguish, they hope to rebuild and can still smile and share what little they have with each other.




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