24/10/2013 - 24 October marks one year since Hurricane Sandy formed and moved through the Caribbean, killing 70 people and leaving at least 5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. About 250 000 homes were damaged or destroyed and the needs in terms of shelter, water and sanitation, infrastructure and agriculture were critical.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, ECHO, responded in the immediate aftermath of the emergency, monitoring the situation in five countries and providing more than €10 million to the region. The funds were used to provide support to the most vulnerable through the distribution of relief items (hygiene kits, mattresses), rehabilitation and construction of hurricane resistant shelters, distribution of safe water and restoration of water systems. ECHO has also accompanied the early recovery of livelihoods through the distribution of seeds and tools and the implementation of cash for work activities.
The communities that had benefited from ECHO's Disaster Preparedness programme (DIPECHO) before Sandy hit were in a better position to face the hurricane. "After the workshops funded by the European Union, we were equipped with knowledge and tools to face any type of phenomenon," says Zoila Alcantara, Communication and Information Officer of the community network of La Lista, in the Dominican Republic. "This DIPECHO project took place in our community in 2009, and since then we act differently. When Hurricane Sandy hit, we had prepared ourselves. We informed people so that they could protect what they had to protect and reach the shelters in time."