Even while attending to the needs of Americans left homeless by hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the United States has sent disaster-relief experts and emergency supplies to neighbors across the Caribbean reeling from the twin blows of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
U.S. rescue teams also joined the search for survivors of the September 19 earthquake in Mexico City.
“As we help our neighbors in Mexico and the Caribbean, I want to make clear that America is and will remain the world’s leading humanitarian donor,” U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green said September 21 in New York.
“Whether it’s responding to an earthquake, drought or conflict, America is committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with people in their hour of need,” Green said. “It is who we are as Americans.”
Hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, hit Barbuda on September 5, unleashing catastrophic rain, wind and storm surges across the Caribbean before it reached Florida on September 10. Hurricane Maria has left dozens dead in its wake since striking Dominica on September 18, wreaking devastation along its path from Puerto Rico to the Turks and Caicos Islands as it continues to move toward the Atlantic.
President Trump has called Hurricane Maria a “monster.”
USAID activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team on September 7, pre-deploying rescuers to several Caribbean countries even before Irma made landfall.
— USAID/OFDA (@theOFDA) September 19, 2017
Between the lashings delivered by Irma and Maria, Hurricane Jose tracked close to the same islands, temporarily halting some relief efforts with heavy rain and winds. (Jose has now weakened below hurricane status, the National Hurricane Center says.)
As of September 21, USAID had provided an initial $1.35 million in humanitarian aid to meet immediate needs of hurricane victims in the Caribbean, including:
- $100,000 each in logistics support and relief supplies for Antigua and Barbuda; the Bahamas; Dominica; and the French and Dutch sides of Saint Martin Island.
- $686,000 for relief commodities airlifted into the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda.
— USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (@USAIDSavesLives) September 18, 2017
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Southern Command delivered eight lightweight desalination units to Saint Martin to address residents’ critical need for potable water. The units can produce 45,000 liters a day.