UNICEF responded to multiple emergencies during 2017's unusually active Atlantic hurricane season, pre-positioning supplies before storms hit and working with local partners to help the most vulnerable rebuild their lives after the storms have passed. Today, the work of recovery and rebuilding continues.

After Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, leaving almost 1 million people without safe drinking water and 3 million without electricity, UNICEF USA and partners delivered 12,000 emergency hygiene kits and more than 1,000 pallets of drinking water to help families stay healthy. One year later, UNICEF USA and partners are still working to rebuild homes damaged by the catastrophic storm.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, which tore through the islands of the Caribbean, UNICEF is helping rebuild damaged schools and supplying educational materials to students and teachers. Hurricane Harvey left more than 1 million children in Texas unable to start school, with up to 3 million impacted across the region. UNICEF USA supported rebuilding efforts at schools and daycare centers and provided supplies and expertise to help get children back to school and back to learning.

Hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms can wreak havoc even in developed nations, but countries suffering from poverty, deforestation, or inadequate emergency services confront potential catastrophe.

Strong winds, heavy rain, tidal surges, flooding and mudslides can kill or injure thousands. Children and their families who live in coastal areas — or in poorly constructed housing — can become homeless for months. Ineffective evacuation plans can also put children and their families in danger. Afterwards, water-borne diseases like cholera can spread rapidly.

That's why, before disaster strikes, UNICEF works to enhance emergency response in communities from Latin America and the Caribbean to the South Pacific that face rising sea levels and intensifying storms due to climate change. 

In the immediate aftermath of storms, UNICEF provides rapid lifesaving emergency relief: water purification tablets, vaccines and nutrition supplements for children and nursing mothers, tents and temporary shelters for families, school kits, and services like post-trauma counseling and reuniting children separated from their parents.

Then UNICEF helps communities build back better with improved access to education, stronger health systems and reliable disaster preparedness.

Fast Fact