UN urges Americans not to forget Hurricane Sandy's Caribbean victims

NEW YORK, United States, Wednesday October 30, 2013, CMC – A senior official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is urging Americans not to forget the less documented Caribbean victims as the United States marks the first anniversary of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Americans have been marking the occasions with various ceremonies along the northeast section of the country, particularly in New York, where the devastating storm caused over US$18 billion worth of damage.

But UNDP director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Heraldo Muñoz, is calling on New Yorkers not to forget that the United States was the last stop on Sandy’s path opf destruction.

“Sandy, one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes on record, rumbled across the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries before finally reaching the eastern seaboard of the US,” he said.

One year on, UNDP said that recovery efforts from the storm are underway, but some of the agency’s officials say that the suffering of those in developing Caribbean nations may have been underplayed.

“Because of socio-economic vulnerabilities, people in developing countries are often less prepared for a large event and unfortunately are not as quick to bounce back or recover,” said Jo Scheuer, UNDP Coordinator of Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery.

“While the mainland US suffered greater losses in terms of total fatalities and the extent of damage, for the Caribbean nations, Cuba and Haiti in particular, the storm was comparatively more expensive having a much more profound impact on local livelihoods and the GDP,” added Scheuer, stating that, in Haiti, the storm intensified the humanitarian crisis caused by the 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people.

Efforts to help prepare Caribbean countries for disaster minimized the potential loss caused by the storm.

“In Cuba, UNDP support to the government over the years has made that country particularly good at preventing deaths from hurricanes,” Scheuer said.

Over the last 10 years, fewer Cubans die in the hurricane season than in any neighbouring states, according to the UN agency figures.

Likewise in Haiti, the UN said earthquake recovery projects set up by the Government and supported by the UN have helped mitigate the impact of storms.

The UN said projects undertaken in Haiti include disaster- resilient construction for homes, sea walls and flood barriers, as well as short term employment to generate income and rebuild better. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)