Toprical Depression Chris visited Santo Domingo this morning. Within 15 minutes the drains were overwhelmed, and many streets transformed to swift streams. It was easy to see a good hour or two of the torrent could lead to some serious flooding. But he left.
Dominican Republic is in a perfect spot to intercept hurricanes. The word hurricane comes from the Taíno, the indigenous and long gone people of Hispanola. Georges in 1998 was the last big one to come through.
With the poverty and daily chaos of the DR, its hard to imagine the true chaos of a hurricane disaster, the challenge of mounting a relief operation. And at the same time, it both makes feeble (you really just need resources on the ground) and strengthens my belief (it will help coordination and organization) in mapping and GeoRSS for humanitarian response.
The DR Government does not sit idly by. Every small village, of a dozen or so families, has a concrete hurricane shelter, which can also serve as a focus point for relief efforts. Most of the times these buildings double as schools. The slightly large villages (several dozen families) have early warning systems installed — these solar power satellite phones pictured above. The phone is maintained and operated by Verizon, and most of the time is simply a pay phone (and this is important here, as the mountains and economics make leapfrogging with mobile phones impractical).
We need a GeoRSS feed of all the hurricane shelter sites. Would be incredbily useful to coordinate relief after the inevitable future hurricane. And it could double during the off season for more Creative projects.