Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian: Population Movement – A Live Story

Hurricane Dorian's path up the U.S. East Coast.
Hurricane Dorian's path up the U.S. East Coast.

Throughout Hurricane Dorian’s devastating path through the Bahamas, Direct Relief has been monitoring population movement via the latest Esri-hosted geographic information system map created by its research and analysis team. The population movement layer is comprised of exclusive Facebook-provided data, which shows the difference between the number of Facebook mobile app users three months ago and now.

All app users who are part of this data set have opted-in to location tracking and their data has been anonymized, according to Alex Pompe, lead spokesperson for disaster maps at Facebook. The anonymization methodology has been open sourced, allowing anyone to review it.

Check this page for ongoing updates as the latest data becomes available:

9/13-  For the first time since the storm, Great Abaco is showing a positive change in population. Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief, said that this change, which is in the southern part of the island only, is likely related to an uptick in network connectivity as well as ongoing relief efforts.

Schroeder also pointed out that there is less movement between islands than would be expected. The bulk of the movement which exists, is between Grand Bahama and Nassau, which is consistent with the relocation of people to Nassau.

Further, the latest map shows that Nassau is the only  island of the Bahamas that is seeing relatively significant increases in population compare to pre-storm levels. One of the implications of this movement is that the next phase of the relief and recovery effort should focus on the needs of displaced folks in Nassau, according to Schroeder.

The latest Facebook app user data showing high population movement to Nassau and the first positive movement into Great Abaco. (Direct Relief)
The latest Facebook app user data showing high population movement to Nassau and the first positive movement into Great Abaco. (Direct Relief)

9/12-  An update today from The  The National Emergency Management Agency of the Bahamas and other regional organizations shows an increase in the number of at least partially operational health care facilities on Grand Bahama and Great Abaco.

Map showing the status of health clinics in Great Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Map showing the status of health clinics in Great Abaco and Grand Bahama.

9/12-  According to Facebook app user data from September 10, population figures have remained consistent compared to the two days preceding it. One interesting change to note, however, is the increase in people offshore near Great Abaco and Grand Bahama. These increases represent those involved with relief efforts. Even as cell phone networks remained largely offline, app users with satellite phones can be counted.

Facebook user data shows an increasing number of people engaged with relief efforts. (Direct Relief)
Facebook user data shows an increasing number of people engaged with relief efforts. (Direct Relief)

9/12- Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief:
The Carolinas and Georgia basically look back to normal– with the exception that the areas right along the coast still resemble what we’d expect to see in evacuation zones. Which means that communities right along the ocean front are definitely not back to a pre-storm “normal” situation.”

Coastal areas still look like they are under an evacuation order. (Direct Relief)
Coastal areas still look like they are under an evacuation order. (Direct Relief)

9/10- Data provided by Facebook from yesterday shows that the number of app users in immediate coastal North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia— north of Savannah only— are still low compared to the typical, pre-storm number of app users. The Georgia coast south of Savannah has returned to normal population counts, as have the rest of the those two states, according to Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief.

9/10- According to the latest NetHope report, only two cell phone towers on Great Abaco are operational and 50% of cell phone towers in Grand Bahama are operational. All of the outlying islands remain completely offline.

9/9- Yesterday, Direct Relief completed an airlift to Moore’s Island, which is located west of the Abacos Islands and southeast of Grand Bahamas. There are a reported 800 people stranded there with no food or water.

Moore's Island, The Bahamas, highlighted for effect. (Direct Relief)
Moore’s Island, The Bahamas, highlighted for effect. (Direct Relief)

9/9- Before and after images of the Marsh Harbor Clinic, courtesy of the Direct Relief Research and Analysis team. Damage is particularly evident in the neighborhood next to the clinic.

Before Hurricane Dorian:

Marsh Harbour Clinic, before Hurricane Dorian (Direct Relief)
(Direct Relief)

After Hurricane Dorian:

Marsh Harbour Clinic, after Hurricane Dorian (Direct Relief)
(Direct Relief)

9/8- An interactive before/after slider map showing the extent of Hurricane Dorian’s aftermath, from Direct Relief’s Research and Analysis team:

(Direct Relief)

9/7 – Yesterday’s dispatch from Andrew MacCalla, VP, Emergency Response, was from Freeport’s Rand Memorial Hospital. MacCalla described a harrowing situation for the public hospital, which is now the only public option for 80,000 people. It has 86 beds. Of the seven associated clinics, only three are “near-term” functional.

There are 4 feet of flood water inside. The Coast Guard has been able to evacuate the most critical patients from a nearby landing zone.

MacCalla reported that all beds are damaged and an estimated 90% of their equipment and medicine supply is damaged. The operating room is also unusable, and all OBGYN capabilities are also offline.

The hospital is currently without power but does have a generator, even as none of the wall outlets work.

He saw about 50 people waiting for care outside. The hospital is full inside, with people waiting in the hallways. The hospital staff is “working their tails off,” according to MacCalla, even as they were on strike just last week.

Other challenges facing the hospital include the loss of all records.

MacCalla said staff were beginning to fungal infections and days-old injuries.

Top expressed needs from hospital staff were:
-Hospital beds/bay chairs
-Disposable lines
-Gloves of all types
-Welch Allen sets
-Food and drink (canned)
-Ambulances
-Sanitation and cleaning supplies
-Crash carts
-Flashlights and floodlights and laptops
-Scrubs of all sizes
-Direct Relief tubs

9/6- Report from Direct Relief Program Specialist Luis David Rodriguez in Marsh Harbour:
“The clinic is pretty stable and running smoothly for the most part, still on a generator. They opened a shelter in town, so people who were hanging around the clinic have moved to a shelter.”

“This morning I had the chance to walk from the Marsh Harbour Port to the clinic and saw the communities that were totally wiped out, where they are expecting many casualties once the flooding subsides.”

9/6- Looking at the Carolinas, the latest data shows that coastal evacuees have not started to return in significant numbers yet.

9/6- Analyzing population movement using available cell phones connected to a network in The Bahamas, Schroeder reported that, “The only movement seen is between Freeport and Nassau– which is consistent with the evacuations.

Population Movement in The Bahamas for 9/5 showing movement from Freeport to Nassau. (Direct Relief)
Population Movement in The Bahamas for 9/5 showing movement from Freeport to Nassau. (Direct Relief)

9/6- Updates have been scant over the past couple of days due to a lack of cell phone network connectivity in The Bahamas. This is still the case, according to Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief:  “Bahamas is a no go on population analysis via social media — networks still way too bad.”

Bahamas Network Connectivity Map for 9/3 (Direct Relief)
Bahamas Network Connectivity Map for 9/3 (Direct Relief)

9/3 – Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief, has been tracking where people have been moving to when they evacuate:
“People have moved away from coast, but haven’t moved very far, usually just a couple towns away.” This pattern was true for major population centers along the coast in Florida as well as Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C.

9/3 – Cellular networks remain down in the Abaco Islands, so there is no updated Facebook data to report currently.

The map has been updated with Facebook data on population movement for coastal Georgia, the Carolinas, and parts of Tennessee and Virginia.

Data from yesterday showed decreases in population for all major cities in North and South Carolina, but that could be due to the holiday weekend.

There have been major decreases in population along the coast from Georgia to Virginia as of yesterday,  except in Virginia Beach, which showed an increase, likely due to the holiday.

9/2 – Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief:
“The main takeaway in the Bahamas is that we can’t say much about dynamics in the affected area due to network outage. It’s wiped out in the affected area.”

Expectedly, Schroeder found that coastal evacuations all along Florida picked up speed significantly over the weekend, though he was surprised by the number of people still at Disney World. That park will close Tuesday afternoon.

Facebook data has been been populated for parts of Georgia and Alabama. For Georgia, information is available for the southern part of the state, until just north of Brunswick. Population movement data for the rest of that state, as well as the Carolinas is scheduled to be added soon.

9/1 – Up to 93% of Facebook app users in the barrier cays of the Abaco Islands have left, according to data provided by Facebook from yesterday at 8 p.m.

Crossing Rocks, Marsh Harbor, and Coopers Town on Great Abaco Island have all seen triple digit increases in population by percentage.

9/1 – Andrew MacCalla, VP, Emergency Response:
“Direct Relief staff are slated to be arriving tomorrow, via seaplane, to Grand Bahama and Abaco with sufficient medication for up to 1,000 people.”

9/1 – As Dorian makes landfall in The Bahamas, Andrew Schroeder’s social vulnerability analysis reports that 6,785 people in the impacted area are under 5 years old. On Little Abaco Island, there are 87 children under the age of 5 who are still on the island.

The number of individuals over the age of 65, throughout the impacted areas in the Bahamas, is 6,758.

9/1 – From Andrew MacCalla, VP, Emergency Response:
Direct Relief has made offers to The Bahamas Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands, and NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell. Direct Relief staff members are on standby to both oversee and personally deliver requested medications via boat and/or plane.

The Florida Department of Health accepted Direct Relief’s offer of an Emergency Health Kit, which contains essential medications and supplies can treat up to 1,000 people.

8/31 – Because Dorian has changed course, Florida’s Martin County cancelled its evacuation order for Sunday while Brevard County announced it would delay its evacuation order until Monday morning.

The overall rate of movement on the east coast of Florida has accelerated rapidly as of 8/30 at 8pm with some cities—notably Titusville and Cocoa Beach— seeing up to a 88% drop in users located there. All major population centers on the east coast from Miami to Daytona Beach have seen statistically significant percentage drops.

In the Bahamas, a similar rate of change, approaching 90%, has taken place on the Abaco Islands.

8/30 – According to the latest data available on the map from 8/29 at 8 pm, the trend Andrew mentioned yesterday still holds: population figures from Port St. Lucie to Boca Raton on Florida’s east coast have remained relatively stable—and have actually increased in some areas, such as Boca Raton. However, the Miami metro area, around Melbourne, and in the northern part of the state’s east coast from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach have seen marked decreases.

8/29 – Andrew Schroeder, Head of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief:
“The map indicates that– for whatever reason– the west coast of Florida has seen sharper drops in population than the east coast — which is a little counterintuitive. Data is from 8/28 at 8pm.”

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