Between 17 and 21 August 2007, Hurricane Dean moved across Caribbean islands, causing major damage. It was a Category 2 storm when it crossed Saint Lucia, Category 4 when it crossed the southern part of Jamaica, and the Belizean key islands endured winds reaching 165 km/h, or a Category 4 storm. There were more than 12 deaths on the islands of Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Saint Lucia, and in Mexico. Damage to the Lesser Antilles, however, was not as severe as predicted.
The hurricane hit Jamaica just as the country was preparing to elect a new prime minister. Winds ripped off roofs, damaged buildings and hospitals, interrupted power, water, and communications services, and destroyed crops. Public waste collection services could not keep up with the enormous accumulation of debris, so private trucks were contracted to complete the task. At the end of September, Prime Minister Holding called for a “national clean-up day” and got the cooperation of public and private sectors, community organizations, families, and individuals. Despite these efforts it was impossible to prevent the spread of mosquitoes and rats. One case of dengue fever and several cases of leptospirosis were reported.
A six-month project started to assist communities in south Jamaica who got the major impact from Hurricane Dean. Work will focus on vector control, support to the Ministry of Health, and repairs to the heavily damaged Belleview Psychiatric Hospital, the only psychiatric hospital in Jamaica.
In Belize, the storm caused less damage than expected, but there were severe losses in the agriculture sector, especially in sugar cane and papaya crops. People in the most vulnerable areas, and who had suffered in previous disasters, heeded storm warnings and evacuated voluntarily.