Natural disasters regularly occur all over the world. Places might be considered a disaster hot spot when its geography and environmental conditions are taken into account. The Dominican Republic, for example, is unfortunately an example of a hot spot because of its unique geographical, environmental, and socioeconomic qualities.
Cross Catholic Outreach has seen the devastation of natural disasters in this region and learned first-hand how storms take their toll on local families. To build his family the best house possible, a Dominican father named Angel saved for years to buy concrete blocks and rebar. But when a disaster struck, he had to sell the materials to cover other expenses. Now thanks to a partnership between Cross Catholic Outreach and the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, Angel’s family may become one of the 110 Dominicans receiving new homes through our safe housing program.
Here’s how hurricanes, floods, mudslides, tsunamis, droughts, earthquakes, and other forms of extreme weather affect the people of the Dominican Republic and how you can help support local housing and water projects.
The Dominican Republic hurricane season is typically from June through November, bringing high winds, flooding, landslides, and property damage to the island. Hurricanes Maria and Irma are recent examples of hurricanes that caused devastation here in 2017, and most hurricanes hit the western and southwestern coasts of the Dominican Republic. Yet past hurricane seasons have left parts of the east and southeast regions without basic services as well.
Meanwhile, theft, looting, and other petty crimes committed out of desperation are more common after severe weather strikes. All of these things threaten safe housing conditions for Dominican families like Angel’s.
The capital city of Santo Domingo has been often spared by large hurricanes and has only been directly hit by Hurricane San Zenon in 1930, Hurricane David in 1979, and Hurricane George in 1998. Yet Dominican Republic hurricane statistics reveal that many storms have caused deaths here over the years, including Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Isaac in 2012, Hurricane Irene in 2011, and Hurricane Ivan in 2004. We don’t like to think about these statistics in our daily, comfortable lives, but they are a reality for Dominican families that are working hard and doing their best to gain stability and self-sufficiency.
Hurricanes are not the only relevant natural disasters causing hazards and hardships here, as Dominicans also face occasional earthquakes and tsunamis. Heat waves with extreme temperatures and localized droughts have also plagued the Dominican Republic, leading to troublesome food and water shortages. Scientists believe that the Septentrional Fault on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast is overdue for a substantial earthquake, while the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery predicts that the impacts of natural disasters could cause economic losses here of nearly 17 percent of gross domestic product. These findings show just how great the needs are in the Dominican Republic and why it is so important for the developed world to step in and help in the name of Jesus Christ.
Dominican Republic hurricane season and other natural disasters devastate the houses and buildings that families and local businesses depend upon to survive. This is what happened to Angel’s family and so many others that we have met through our local aid partnership. Natural disasters in Dominican Republic displace an estimated average of 24,543 people each year, yet 1998’s Hurricane George left 85,000 people displaced and 350 people here dead. With your help, Cross Catholic Outreach’s housing aid efforts will help construct buildings that are more resilient to extreme weather to withstand future storms.
Cross Catholic Outreach is active in Dominican Republic communities to help local residents prepare for natural disasters and also recover from them when they occur. We are currently working with Bishop Jose Grullón Estrella in the Catholic Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana to build new homes in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic. These are the areas often hardest hit by Dominican Republic hurricanes and most lacking in well-established support systems during times of inclement weather.
Simultaneously, we are working with Bishop Estrella to build clean water systems in the Dominican Republic’s rural areas in order to provide safe water for drinking, bathing, and crop irrigation. Natural disasters in the Dominican Republic often leave pipes and sanitation systems in their aftermath, creating toxic water conditions for residents trying to rebuild their lives.
It is our goal to provide shelter, water, and hope to the people of the Dominican Republic now and in preparation for the next natural disaster. Please consider helping us reach our goal to transform the poor and their communities materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ.