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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Thousands need shelter, healthcare in Caribbean after Irma: UN
By Nina LARSON
Geneva (AFP) Sept 12, 2017


Cuba fights to restore water, power after Irma
Havana (AFP) Sept 12, 2017 - Cuban authorities were still battling Tuesday to restore power and water supplies, days after Hurricane Irma seriously damaged its generating stations.

"Due to severe damage Hurricane Irma caused in all thermoelectric power plants, we cannot estimate how long it will take to recover and fully enable electric power," said Yuri Villamonte, deputy minister for energy and mines.

Damage to the Matanzas thermoelectric station remains a key concern because it serves the capital Havana's population of two million, which largely remained without power or water.

"We are working to normalize the situation," said Ines Maria Chapman, head of Cuba's national institute of hydraulic resources, without giving details.

Villamonte said he remained hopeful that power would be restored "sooner rather than later" because electricity supply was already back up in most of the eastern provinces.

The international airports in Havana and the resort city of Varadero, which had closed for three days, reopened.

Bus services resumed around the country, while schools and universities not directly affected by the hurricane reopened.

In Havana, brigades of volunteers joined municipal workers to help clear the streets of trees, rubble and other debris.

Police directed traffic at intersections to fill in for traffic lights that had been swept away in the maximum-strength Category Five hurricane.

However, Havana's sprawling Malecon esplanade, which was submerged by seawater during the hurricane, was still closed to traffic.

Hurricane Irma has left about 17,000 people in desperate need of shelter and has devastated hospitals and health clinics across the eastern Caribbean islands, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

After its passage through the Caribbean and Florida, Irma has left at least 40 people dead, according to local authorities.

In an overview of the situation, the WHO described a dire health situation on the hardest-hit islands, after many hospitals and health clinics were completely or partially destroyed.

In addition to the work needed to rebuild health care facilities, "there is obviously the issue of evacuating patients who cannot be treated in functioning hospitals," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

Islands that have suffered heavy devastation also desperately need a fresh influx of medical staff to replace local healthcare workers, who have been working around the clock even as many have been hit personally by the storm, he said.

The overview also included data from the UN humanitarian agency showing that a full 17,000 people in the eastern Caribbean desperately needed shelter.

Here is an overview of the situation, according to WHO:

- Anguilla: the hospital is offering reduced services, and critically ill patients are being transferred to other Caribbean countries. There is significant damage to the water supply and 90 percent of the electricity infrastructure has been damaged.

- Antigua and Barbuda: Two shelters are functioning in Antigua and are housing 305 people. The hospital in Barbuda suffered significant damage is not functioning at all.

- Bahamas: More than 1,000 people were evacuated from Family Islands before the storm hit.

- British Virgin Islands: The hospital was severely damaged but continues to offer emergency services.

- Turks and Caicos islands: were particularly hard-hit, with 80-90 percent of households damaged on South Caicos, where plans are underway to evacuate 2,000 people. Seventy percent of houses on Providenciales were damaged, as were 50 percent on Grand Turk, where the hospital suffered significant damage. The governor of Grand Turk has declared the island a disaster area.

- Cuba: The government has reported that 10 people died in the storm, and two million were evacuated to shelters and the houses of neighbours or relatives. Hospitals in six cities and town, including in Havana, have suffered damage.

- Haiti: Authorities have reported one fatality, one person missing and five injured. There are currently 67 shelters housing nearly 1,500 people.

- Puerto Rico: Three deaths have been reported, while 154 people are being housed in shelters and nearly half a million are without electricity, and some 154,000 without drinking water. Six hospitals have no electricity.

- Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy: All hospital services have been moved from Saint Martin, where the hospital was damaged. Hospital services have resumed in Saint Barthelemy. French President Emmanuel Macron said during a visit to the Caribbean that 11 people have been killed.

- Sint Maarten: Forty percent of houses were severely damaged, and 5,000 people need shelter. The hospital has been damaged and is working at 30 percent capacity. Four out of 12 pharmacies have been damaged, and most doctors are not working. Four people have lost their lives.

- United States: The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that 586 shelters are housing 192,000 people in Florida and 92 shelters are housing more than 7,000 people in Georgia. Nearly six million people are without power. In Florida, 46 hospitals have been closed and 204 other healthcare facilities have been evacuated.

- US Virgin Islands: Four people have been confirmed dead and 376 are in shelters. FEMA reported that 55,000 people were without electricity and 341,000 without drinking water. One hospital in Saint Thomas has been evacuated and closed.

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Monster success of "It" feeds primal fear of clowns
Los Angeles (AFP) Sept 12, 2017
The big-screen remake of Stephen King's "It," starring the evil entity Pennywise, has smashed box office records and reaffirmed an age-old rule of horror: clowns are creepy as hell. But while countless movies and television shows have cashed in on so-called "coulrophobia" - or fear of clowns - the primal dread associated with the long-shoed entertainers probably isn't Hollywood's fault. ... read more

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