The hurricane season began for the Pacific on May 15 and for the Atlantic it is expected to begin on June 1. However, the first Atlantic storm was identified on Friday, May 25 with the name of Alberto.
Latin America and the Caribbean are one of the regions most prone to disasters due to tropical storms and hurricanes that regularly devastate coastal communities and often cause landslides and floods.
Early forecasts for the 2018 hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean predict an active season, between 14 and 20 named storms, of which 7 to 12 could become hurricanes and 3 to 7 major hurricanes. In 2017, 18 storms, 9 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes were formed in the Pacific.
In the Atlantic, initial forecasts predict between 10 and 16 named storms, of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes and 1 to 4 major hurricanes. These figures are only slightly higher than the average of the last 30 years with 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. In 2017, 17 storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes were formed in the Atlantic.
What 2017 left us
During August, September and October hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate caused great devastation in more than 10 countries and territories in the Caribbean. Coastal states of the United States and Central America were also directly affected.
The hurricane season of 2017 has been one of the most devastating in recent years. With two category 5 hurricanes, Irma, and one week later María, this season left behind, according to the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), an estimated 400 people killed, more than 100 thousand people who were left homeless.
According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), “the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean in 2017 left few communities undamaged. The approximately 4.4 million people living in low elevation coastal areas, coastal territories located less than 10 meters above sea level, paid a particularly high price. These coastal cities of the Caribbean face a dangerous confluence of heavy rains, erosion and damaged mangroves, facts that, in extreme situations, increase their situation of vulnerability. The historical result is more than 36 million people affected by the storms and floods in the Caribbean since 1900, according to the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT)”.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continues to implement its emergency and recovery appeals that were launched to support more than 65,000 people in the Caribbean and Central America.
Arthur Walter, 45 years old and father of 2 children, shows visitors the repairs he is making on his fishing boat. Arthur is one of the 31 fishermen in Barbuda who have received monetary assistance from the Red Cross to repair their boats. This allowed him to repair his small boat to be able to return to the sea and obtain an income. “I’ve been fishing all my life and losing my boats has been very difficult,” said Arthur, who has experience in catching most types of fish, including snappers, pelagic fish such as tuna and dorado, as well as snail and lobster. Arthur was one of the best equipped fishermen on the island until Hurricane Irma destroyed everything he owned.
Rebuilding more than a house
“The entire roof of my house was completely torn off,” says Robert Timothy, 66, a retired carpenter at Tarish Pit in St. George Parish. He is one of the more than 15,000 people who have received tents, jerry cans, hygiene kits and other relief items from the Dominica Red Cross (CRD) since the start of the hurricane response operation supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“I’m too old to get a job in construction, but I hope I can at least rebuild my own house,” Robert said, looking at the large piles of salvaged roofing materials he had collected in the ruins of his house. The large elderly population of the island has been especially affected by the disaster, since most of them do not earn an income and can not afford to rebuild their homes.