As Caribbean Nations Struggle to Rebuild, Hurricane Maria Strikes
Hurricane Irma caused massive damage across the Caribbean, destroying homes, schools and health centers. Now, just as residents are beginning to pick up the pieces of their lives, another catastrophic storm, Hurricane Maria, is raging through the region. The Category 5 storm has obliterated parts of Dominica and battered Guadaloupe. Families throughout the Caribbean are bracing for ferocious winds and widespread flooding.
Below, see how the people of Turks and Caicos have been rebuilding in the calm before the next storm hits:
The storm is expected to reach Turks and Caicos on Friday, where residents have been struggling to repair their homes after Hurricane Irma.
Damage is widespread in the Five Cays settlement of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. The vast majority of the families living here are Haitian nationals of irregular migrant status. "I made this bridge myself," 7-year-old Anastasia says proudly.
Five-month-old Recca sits in his mother's lap outside his home. A buzzing cloud of mosquitoes gathers hungrily around him. "There are so many mosquitoes, day and night, that it is impossible to rest," says his mother, Berline. "What worries me most is that my baby can get sick."
Tashlee, 14, left, and Tayina, 15, live a few minutes away from Berline's house. "One part of the house lost the roof," says Tayina. "The other part is so messed up that I don't know how to describe it."
On Grand Turk Island, a 25-minute flight away, “The water system is not working, so we have to fetch water from a container up the hill," says 15-year-old Katy. "The water is dirty and yellow, so we have to put bleach in it. We are mainly using it for washing and cleaning, but we are running out of water.”
“Since the storm, everything has changed," says Clefedlin, 12, left. "Everything got wet and destroyed… my electronic equipment, my computer. Some people say that in November I will go back to school. If I were rich I would donate to poor people, to help them out with the hurricane.”
“The night of the hurricane was horrible," recalls 11-year-old Renalson. The local school was quickly turned into an emergency shelter. "All the children in the neighborhood slept at the shelter. Now we do not have enough food. If we had, we wouldn’t have any place to store it anyway."
Brothers Avante, 9, and Arlon, 7, live in Grand Turk Island with their parents, on a street lined with severely damaged houses. The tree in front of their house was uprooted by the strong winds, smashing the roof. The whole roof collapsed, flooding and destroying everything inside.
Thousands of children have had their education disrupted when schools across Cuba, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Barbuda were damaged. “I really hope the school classes resume very soon,” says Gwella, 15, proudly showing a visitor one of her math trophies.
Working closely with local governments, UN agencies and NGO partners, UNICEF is on the ground and has already deployed additional staff and humanitarian supplies, including water purification tablets, tents and tarpaulin, school bags, early childhood development kits, school-in-a-box kits and teaching supplies, as well as hygiene and comfort kits for affected children and their families.
Photos: Manuel Moreno Gonzalez for UNICEF.