HDI responds to deadly hurricane

By Melissa Schill, News Reporter

09.13.19

Over the past two weeks, Hurricane Dorian traveled up the East Coast, leaving a trail of destruction in the Bahamas and North Carolina. With widespread evacuations and a rising death count, relief organizations around the world including the Wheaton based Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) are mobilizing to meet the needs of the thousands affected by the storm.

Since Hurricane Dorian’s formation, HDI has been doing media outreach and consultations with churches and groups in the Bahamas and North Carolina. HDI consults with local churches, parachurches and organizations in affected areas to advise them on their next steps towards recovery. HDI connects them with other relief organizations in the area and provides resources for both victims and volunteers on how to deal with the emotional aftermath.

“One of the things we try to do is take that research and boil it down to accessible language and resources and tools that anyone can use to help in the aftermath of the crisis,” HDI Program Director Jamie Aten said. “We don’t do research for research’s sake; we do research to help communities. If [our findings] are not getting into their hands then we’re not really helping.”

For as long as aid is requested, HDI will continue to provide resources and consultation for areas affected by Hurricane Dorian, Aten said.

After forming on Aug. 24, Dorian made landfall on Sept. 1 in the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane with wind gusts reaching 220 miles per hour (mph). On Sept. 2 and 3, Dorian’s forward speed slowed to about 1.2 mph, which still significantly damaged the Grand Bahama area. The death count in the Bahamas is currently 43, though it is expected to rise as the hurricane’s aftermath continues. UN officials reported that over 60,000 people in the Bahamas need access to food and water as a result of a storm.

As Dorian moved on from the Bahamas, evacuations were ordered in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina to prevent injuries or deaths resulting from the hurricane. As Dorian moved north, however, it lost strength, fluctuating between Category 2 and 3. Dorian never made landfall on the southern coast of the US and its path was far enough off the coast that residents in the southeastern area of the U.S. were not significantly impacted.

Dorian did eventually make landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 6 as a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. In the Carolinas, hurricane-force winds formed around two dozen tornadoes. Heavy rainfall and storm surges resulted in widespread flooding. As the storm traveled north, flooding also impacted Virginia and Maryland as well.

Wheaton junior Emma Cerovich, has extended family who had to evacuate their home in Jacksonville, Fla. due to the threat of extensive water damage. “Thankfully they are back home and safe,” Cerovich said in an email exchange with the Record.

Affected residents are now beginning to return to their damaged houses. Relief efforts have already begun.

On Sept. 8, Hurricane Dorian hit Nova Scotia and continued through northeast Canada before eventually moving to the North Atlantic Ocean. On Sept. 10, the storm dissipated completely while still over the North Atlantic.

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