By Anita Dullard

During the early hours of 6 September, catastrophic hurricane Irma made landfall on St Kitts and Nevis – a tiny two island nation in the Caribbean. The immediate impact of the storm caused damage to houses and other buildings, and electrical power outage.

Since the storm passed, volunteers have worked through a steady downpour of rain to provide communities with tarpaulins as in interim measure to secure damaged homes.

The after effects of Hurricane Irma

Although St Kitts and Nevis suffered relatively minor damages, in comparison to other Caribbean islands, concerns have been raised about the risk of vector and waterborne diseases. In the weeks following the hurricane, the threat of Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika outbreaks could increase as the floodwaters subside and debris filled with stagnant water become ideal breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito – the main vector for these diseases. Red Cross volunteers will work alongside the community to reduce the risk of outbreak.

Other islands affected by the hurricane are also registering concern about the increased risk of these diseases.

Across the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma cut a swath of destruction

The hurricane impacted communities in more than a dozen nations and Island territories, destroying or severely damaging thousands of buildings, and claiming at least 28 lives. More than 1.2 million people were exposed to its effects.

IFRC has released more than 720,000 Swiss francs to ensure a rapid Red Cross response in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In addition to supporting Caribbean National Societies, IFRC is working with the British, French, Netherlands and American Red Cross Societies which have territories and overseas branches in several Caribbean islands to coordinate and support preparedness and response efforts. Other partner National Societies are providing precious support, including staff, to contribute to the response.