Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria: Updates and facts you need to know

Updated Sep 22, 2017
UPDATE, September 22, 2017

Hurricane Maria passed the Atlantic coast of the Dominican Republic on September 21 as a category three hurricane. World Vision staff have reported widespread flooding in the Dominican Republic.

Our immediate response will include the distribution of food packages and household hygiene kits to 15,000 families affected by the hurricane. 

UPDATE, September 19, 2017 from Luis Peirera, of World Vision’s Latin American Regional Office:

“The Dominican Republic is preparing itself for the worst from Hurricane Maria – less than 15 days since the last major hurricane was headed for the island.  

Thankfully, there was no loss of life reported for the Dominican Republic from Irma, but families are still recovering from the clean-up efforts and working on projects to repair their homes, and rebuild their livelihoods – including crops that were damaged.

The people of the Dominican Republic are resilient to storms like these, but this time around the difference is the force-- the winds and the frequency are scary. The news coming from other islands in the region is a big worry.  

World Vision staff in the Dominican Republic are on high alert, preparing for the storm and coordination with the government. We have pre-positioned supplies in warehouses near the communities where we work that can be trucked out immediately following the storm, if needed. These include water, food, hygiene kits, kitchen kits, cleaning supplies, and other items such as mattresses, tents, tarpaulin sheets, and rope. 

Saving lives is the first priority. 

Currently the focus is on moving people in low lying areas to shelters. We are working with government forces who are helping move people, and sounding out warnings. 

We pray that the storm passes us without doing considerable damage. Our prayers were heard the last time around. Do keep us in our prayers as we do our best to provide an appropriate response.“

How can I help?
Right now, our staff are preparing to respond and working to mobilize and deliver relief supplies to affected communities as quickly and safely as possible after the storm hits.

UPDATE, September 8, 2017: Hurricane Irma has passed over islands in Latin America and the Caribbean, but following in its trail is Hurricane Jose, an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

Damage from Hurricane Irma has been minimal in the Dominican Republic. However, next-door Haitian residents are reporting flooded roads and toppled homes and buildings. Instead of recovering, families now have to prepare for Hurricane Jose, which is expected to hit many of the same islands as Hurricane Irma.

World Vision emergency response staff at a relief distribution in Haiti, following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Photo: Louibert Meyer, World Vision.

What is World Vision doing?
  • World Vision is assessing damage in Haiti, so we can respond quickly.
  • World Vision is prepositioning basic food and hygiene items to meet the needs of affected families and to ensure that affected children are secure and supported through child-friendly spaces.
  • Hurricanes of this magnitude can be especially frightening and traumatic for children, and we are working to protect both their physical and psychosocial needs.
Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 storm. (©2017 photo courtesy of NOAA)

About your sponsored child
If you would like more information about your sponsored child, please call our toll-free Hurricane Irma emergency line at 1-800-654-2650.

Why is Hurricane Irma a big deal?
Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane the National Hurricane Center has ever recorded in the Atlantic outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. It’s currently moving as a Category 5 storm, which means it has sustained wind speeds greater than 157 mph. Category 5 storms cause catastrophic damage when they make landfall.
Hurricane Matthew hit the southern part of Haiti as a Category 4 storm on October 4, 2016, and the country still hasn’t fully recovered from that devastating system. While Hurricane Irma is on track to hit the northern part of the country, it’s another strong disaster that will weaken an already struggling country if it continues at its current strength or gains strength, as it’s currently expected to do.

Hurricane Irma is also problematic because Hurricane Jose is following right behind and is expected to take a similar path, which could cause even further damage as people try to recover from Irma after it hits.

How is World Vision responding to Hurricane Irma?
World Vision has relief supplies pre-positioned to assist in responding to the needs of those affected after the storm passes. Supplies include:

  • Hygiene kits
  • Sawyer water filters
  • Bed sheets
  • Mosquito nets
  • Jerry cans
  • Dry food