17 December - Dominican Republic
As of December 17, the number of deaths associated with Tropical Storm Olga has risen to 33. More than 12,000 homes have been affected causing the displacement of more than 60,000 people, of which nearly 14,000 are in shelters. The storm has left 190 communities isolated due to damaged roads and bridges. Eight of the provinces remain under a Red Alert by the National EOC. There are several health concerns in Santiago where there is a shortage of clean drinking water and reports that some shelters are experiencing difficulties with waste removal. There are additional concerns due to the fact that people are using river water that has not been treated. SESPAS is maintaining the epidemiologic surveillance system in order to prevent diseases associated with the flooding. Public Health medical teams have fumigated flooded areas and are providing medicines against leptospirosis and respiratory illnesses. PAHO/WHO is supporting SESPAS and the Provincial Department of Health in the Situation Room in Santiago in coordination and the management of information.
14 December (update of previous information)
Nearly two weeks after the end of the official Atlantic Hurricane season, sub-tropical storm Olga was recognized by the National Hurricane Center on December 10, north of Puerto Rico. The storm made landfall on the evening of December 11 on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, south of Punta Cana. The storm passed through the island of Hispaniola, which had already felt the brunt of Tropical Storm Noel one month prior, producing heavy rains and flooding due to the already saturated soil. The storm was upgraded to Tropical Storm status before re-entering the Caribbean, west of Haiti.
In the Dominican Republic the areas most affected by the storm are to the north and northeast. The National Emergency Operations Center (EOC) declared a Red Alert for 30 provinces. River levels and dam levels are exceedingly high and are being monitored. Several rivers have exceeded capacity causing overflow in towns and causing damage to roads and bridges, causing the isolation of 189 communities. Figures as of December 14 indicate that there are 24 confirmed deaths, 20 of them in Santiago. Approximately 900,000 people have been affected in Duarte, Espaillat, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Sanchez Ramirez, Santiago, La Vega and Montecristi, Valverde, and Barahona. Nearly 9,800 homes have been affected and more than 49,000 people have been displaced by the storm.
The areas to address as a result of the storm include water and sanitation needs, shelters, and the control and prevention of infectious diseases. The Secretariat for Public Health and Social Assistance (SESPAS) is implementing a preventative program against infectious diseases in the areas affected by flooding, including a campaign against malaria. SESPAS has sent a Damage Assessment and Evaluation of Needs team to Santiago, in addition to medical teams and ambulances to handle the situation. SESPAS has also installed a Medical Center to provide assistance to those displaced by the storm in Santiago. Five mobile clinics are being installed in the north of the country to help strengthen the health system, in addition to medical staff and resources. The National Institute of Drinking Water and Sewerage Systems (INAPA) has repaired 9 systems that were damaged; however, 34 remain affected causing concern. In response to water breaches, 20 water tankers have been sent to the affected area. The storm is expected to cause difficulties for Tropical Storm Noel recovery activities. The United Nations system has reactivated emergency systems and is closely monitoring the situation. UNCT and UNETE are on alert and are preparing to deploy teams to the field to evaluate the situation.
The storm was downgraded to a Tropical Depression upon passing Jamaica and is predicted to decrease in strength. Predictions indicate it will continue on its westward tract and that high upper-level wind shear will prevent it from regenerating.
Photos from the Dominican Republic