Economy August 22, 2023 | 8:23 am

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Three hurricanes have caused economic losses of almost RD$30 billion in five years

Santo Domingo.- Annually, from June to November, the potential for atmospheric events leading to human, material, and economic losses intensifies during the hurricane season. Over the past five years, Hurricanes Fiona, Irma, and María have collectively incurred economic losses of nearly 30 billion pesos.

Most recently, Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Monday, September 19, 2022, through Punta Cana. The hurricane brought winds surpassing 100 kilometers per hour and extensive rainfall across the country, notably affecting areas like La Romana, San Pedro de Macorís, Hato Mayor, El Seibo, Samaná, and María Trinidad Sánchez.

The direct economic impact was estimated at $381.74 million, equivalent to approximately 20.4 billion pesos using the exchange rate of 53.50 pesos per dollar. The US National Hurricane Center (NOAA) reported the displacement of 43,000 people, with 1,500 requiring emergency shelter.

Infrastructure and services were severely affected. Power outages affected more than 400,000 people, while 1.2 million faced water supply issues. Additionally, over a million hectares of land were impacted.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria followed Fiona in terms of inflicted losses. The ONE report from June of the same year highlighted these hurricanes, occurring on September 7 and 21, 2017, respectively, causing significant human loss and estimated damage of 8.7 billion pesos, which constituted 1.6% of public spending that year.

The year 2017 witnessed the highest number of Civil Defense-assisted individuals due to flooding, with 67,391 displaced and 33,315 sheltered. Hurricanes Irma and Maria generated varied impacts on the island, from minimal damage to significant loss of life and infrastructure damage.

The Dominican Republic’s geographical location and island status render it vulnerable to various geophysical and hydrometeorological threats. Ranked 32nd in the 2021 World Risk Index, the country faces significant exposure to risks like floods and tropical cyclones, with assets valued in the billions.

Over the past five years, these climatic events have displaced 79,182 individuals and necessitated the sheltering of 35,438. Provinces such as San Pedro de Macorís, Valverde, La Vega, Samaná, Santiago, and Montecristi have been hardest hit due to rainfall accumulation and overflowing water bodies.

Throughout this period, the nation also encountered five tropical storms and two tropical depressions, which caused minimal or undocumented damages.

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