Hurricane Sandy, after lashing the Caribbean, hit the East Coast of the United States on Monday, 29 October, affecting millions. The hurricane caused at least 165 deaths throughout the Region. Intense flooding, especially in New York and New Jersey, forced people to evacuate, shut down transportation systems and cut off transport via major roads and bridges.
Health situation by countries (information updated on 2 November 2012)
In the United States, according to reports, at least 90 deaths have occurred as a result of the storm. Most hospitals in the region remain open and functioning, however some had to be evacuated during the storm. According to the NYC Health and Hospital Corporation, the Bellevue Hospital in downtown New York City was evacuated, and all patients were transferred to alternative facilities. Coney Island Hospital evacuated 180 patients, and flooding and power loss forced the New York University Langone Medical Center to evacuate patients.
Disaster Medical Assistance Teams coming from throughout the country are providing care in medical shelters in New York City and a 50-person Disaster Medical Assistance Team is providing medical care in shelters in New Jersey.
In the Bahamas, the majority of the health facilities (hospitals and clinics) are open and providing services as normal.The Ministry of Health/Department of Public Health and the National Insurance Board are coordinating to begin repairing damage, specifically in health clinics. They are also mobilizing backup, portable generators to those areas most in need.
In Cuba, Hurricane Sandy severely affected the city of Santiago de Cuba. Close to 305,000 people were affected by the storm. Reports indicate that 615 health facilities of different levels have been affected in six provinces: Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. The damage caused by the hurricane on the environment and health infrastructure forced the distribution of water and water storage. This water storage can create risks related to water or vector-borne diseases such as dengue and leptospirosis.
Since Haiti was hit by Tropical Storm Isaac in late August 2012, the number of cholera cases has been increasing each month and the number of deaths is now higher than in earlier months this year. Early reports following the impact of Hurricane Sandy indicate that the same trend is likely to continue. A total of 196 new cases and 16 deaths were reported through the alert and response system between 24 and 29 October.
Four PAHO response teams (including clinicians, logisticians and water and sanitation specialists) have been deployed and are supporting health authorities at the department level in the areas of response coordination, investigation of health alerts and provision of supplies to cholera treatment centers, including to decentralized warehouses.
In Jamaica, Hurricane Sandy caused one death and left 237 people injured. The Ministry of Health reports that 51 health facilities suffered some form of damage (50% of which are minor). Six of these facilities are hospitals and 39 of which are health centers or community hospitals. The others are health departments or other facilities. As of 31 October, 24 of the 25 hospitals remain fully functional. Water and electricity has been restored to approximately 80% of the affected population and most schools have reopened.