Preparing for Hurricane Irma
Classes suspended in Santo Domingo and 16 provinces
Irma forces cancellations of flights and cruise lines
Public Works puts Irma contingency plan into play
INDRHI begins to empty reservoirs
Puerto Plata prepares for Irma
Bishop of San Juan de la Maguana calls for dam on the Artibonito
Hundreds of Dominican students might be affected by end of DACA
Maroon 5 show cancelled in Punta Cana, other events rescheduled
Fine Arts Film Festival: 28 September-11 October

Preparing for Hurricane Irma
The government has called on the population to take all measures to avoid risks to life given the imminent passing of Hurricane Irma on the early morning of Thursday, 7 September 2017. Given that the US National Hurricane Center has issued a statement saying that any place touched by Irma would suffer “catastrophic damage,” it is important to note the grave threat of the storm.

In the Dominican Republic, the Center for Emergency Operations (COE) has placed the entire country under alerts, with 17 provinces under red alert. These are La Altagracia (Punta Cana and Higuey), El Seibo, Hato Mayor, Samaná, Espaillat (Moca), María Trinidad Sánchez (Nagua), Puerto Plata and Montecristi. On Tuesday, the COE also added La Romana, San Pedro de Macorís, Santo Domingo and the National District, San Cristóbal, Peravia, Azua, Barahona and Pedernales. Most likely, the southern areas were added due to flooding caused by intense rains.

Yellow alert has been issued for the provinces of Dajabón, Santiago Rodríguez, Monte Plata, La Vega, Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís), Sánchez Ramírez (Cotuí), Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), San José de Ocoa; Monseñor Nouel (Bonao) and San Juan de la Maguana.

Green alert is in place for the provinces of Elias Piña, Independencia and Bahoruco.

The COE director, General Juan Manuel Mendez called on the population to be alert and to strictly follow the bulletins issued by the National Meteorological Office (Onamet), the agency authorized to report on the course of this hurricane, and to the press releases from the National Water Resources Institute (INDRHI) that manages country dams. Mendez calls on the people to ignore any reports that are not issued by authorized agencies.

With all eyes on Irma, named the strongest Atlantic Hurricane in NHC records, Tropical Storm José is formed much along the same path. The storm is expected to reach hurricane strength as early as Thursday, 7 September 2017. It will bring intense winds and rains to many of the same territories already battered by Irma.

The best advice for those in the Dominican Republic is to follow the storm as it passes by Puerto Rico. What happens in Puerto Rico is expected to be replicated here as the storm is expected to pass at a similar distance from the local shores.

The DR1 Forums weather forecaster is located in Punta Cana. To follow the storm from a Dominican perspective, see the latest posts at

Classes suspended in Santo Domingo and 16 provinces
The Ministry of Education called off school as of Wednesday, 6 September 2017 in the 17 provinces and the National District under red alert for Hurricane Irma. Originally, the COE had announced the provinces under red alert would be La Altagracia (Punta Cana and Higuey), El Seibo, Hato Mayor, Samaná, Espaillat (Moca), María Trinidad Sánchez (Nagua), Puerto Plata, Montecristi. But on Tuesday, the COE also added La Romana, San Pedro de Macorís, Santo Domingo and the National District, San Cristóbal, Peravia, Azua, Barahona and Pedernales.

Red alert in weather means that extreme weather is expected. People in the concerned areas should take action now to keep themselves and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely.

First wind and rain bands of Hurricane Irma are expected to be felt starting Wednesday, 6 September through Friday, 8 September.

Gloria Ceballos, director of the National Metereological Office (Onamet) highlighted that Hurricane Irma has sustained wind speeds of 285 km per hour and is moving to the west. The storm is expected to move along a west northwest course. So far, the east, northeast and north are expected to feel hurricane weather conditions, while the south and southwest will feel the brunt of a tropical storm.

Intense rains are expected to cause major flooding. Ceballos said the hurricane will bring rains of 300 millimeters (mm) to the most affected areas, but wide spread areas nationwide will receive around 200 mm of rain.

Irma forces cancellations of flights and cruise lines
Because of the imminent passing of hurricane Irma, Carnival Cruise Lines has suspended the arrival of two of its ships to Amber Cove Port in Maimon, Puerto Plata on the north coast. An unofficial source told news media in Puerto Plata that the Carnival Magic that was supposed to arrive Wednesday, 6 September 2017 with some 3,500 passengers and the Carnival Splendor that was scheduled to arrive on Thursday, 7 September will not be making the stop.

The Caribbean storm is affecting flight operations to the Caribbean. It is recommended that all travelers with flights scheduled to the airports of Las Americas International (SDQ), Puerto Plata International (POP), La Romana International (LRM) and Punta Cana International (PUJ) contact their airline before leaving home for a flight. As the powerful storm makes its way through the Caribbean, airlines servicing the area have announced they are waiving change fees for rescheduling, and even refunds for those that will not be able to fly on their scheduled date.

Public Works puts Irma contingency plan into play
The military and police commission of the Ministry of Public Works began reinforcing its services for assistance throughout the national territory as Hurricane Irma gets close. In addition, Minister Gonzalo Castillo gave instructions that the main highways must be free of any refuse so that assistance will be able to flow to those areas that so require it.

Castillo reported on Tuesday, 5 September 2017, that several days ago cleanup work had begun on the drainage ditches throughout much of the area around Santo Domingo and that they have sent teams to different provinces that might be affected by the hurricane.
Gonzalo Castillo also told reporters from El Nacional newspaper that the heavy machinery operators are on 24-hour alert during the passage of this hurricane.

Castillo called on the public to pay attention to the bulletins issued by Civil Defends and the COE.

Regarding the contingency plan, Castillo called on residents to not hesitate to call the assistance units placed along the highways (829-688-1000) and report any news or need for assistance.

INDRHI begins to empty reservoirs
The National Institute of Water Resources (INDRHI) has ordered all of the reservoirs in the Dominican Republic to be lowered to their minimum levels so that the structures will be better able to hold the water that is expected to come with the passing of Hurricane Irma.

In a press release on Tuesday, 5 September 2017, the agency points out that the Tavera Dam in central Santiago will be releasing 100m³ of water per second that will cause the Yaque River to increase its flow noticeably. According to the press release, Tavera should operate at a level of 315 m above sea level and be able to store water to the level of 327 m above sea level.

Regarding Valdesia in the south, 44 m³ per second will be released as a preventive operation that will allow for electricity generation to continue as well as the water supply for Greater Santo Domingo.

INDRHI also called on the nation’s population not to pay attention to any news that does not originate from their offices regarding water levels and the nation’s hydroelectric dams.

The INDRHI said the release of water is all being carried out following protocols of the Committee for the Operation of Dams and Reservoirs that operates these under the guidance of the Center of Emergency Operations (COE) and the different institutions that make up the committee.

Puerto Plata prepares for Irma
The Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) held a meeting on Tuesday, 5 September 2017, in Puerto Plata to coordinate preventive efforts and protection of tourists visiting the north coast given the imminent passing of Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma is expected to primarily affect the north coast. It would be a first time a storm of more than Category 1 hits the north coast since Onamet records are kept.

Julio Almonte, deputy minister of Tourism for the north coast, explained that hotels, the airport and Amber Cove cruise ship port have activated their hurricane protocols to guarantee the safety of visitors at the hotels and transport operations.

Participating in the meeting, in addition to Mitur officers were representatives of the Civil Defense, Puerto Plata Tourism Cluster, Puerto Plata City Government, Puerto Plata Chamber of Commerce, hotel associations of Playa Dorada, Sosúa, Cabarete, Costa Dorada, Cofresí, Ocean World, Specialized Corps for Tourism Security, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Public Health, Puerto Plata Water Corporation (Coraaplata), EdeNorte, Catholic Church, AMET, Ministry of Defense, Infotep, Public Ministry, Air Force, National Police and office of the Puerto Plata senator.

Almonte emphasized: “All institutions of the public and private sector of the north coast are working as a team taking the corresponding measures for before and after Hurricane Irma,” he said.

Bishop of San Juan de la Maguana calls for dam on the Artibonito
The Bishop of Azua, San Juan and Elias Piña, José Dolores Grullon Estrella, has asked President Danilo Medina to build a hydroelectric dam on the Artibonito River, the longest river on the island of Hispaniola and the most important river for the Republic of Haiti. Such a project, according to the bishop, would contribute to the development of Elías Piña. Grullón Estrella said it would help improve living conditions, the environment and would create new wealth and jobs for the border area.

In a letter sent President Medina, Grullon Estrella expressed his backing of the project currently in the Senate that is requesting that the cost of this project be included in the 2018 budget. The bishop also noted that the project would be relatively simple since, as he said: “God in his infinite wisdom has allowed nature to create a narrow opening in order to facilitate the damming of the Artibonito River.”

The bishop also noted that such a project would open up lands for the settlement of Dominican families, as he said, “as a guarantee of the frontier being Dominican.” He noted that from Pedro Santana all the way to Guayajayuco there is not a single-family dwelling. He also noted that such a dam would extend the useful life expectancy of the Peligre Dam in Haiti, since it would reduce the flow of sediment towards Haiti.

He noted that in the Dominican Republic where the river is born, there is no significant project to make use of its waters. The petition for including the construction of this hydroelectric dam was signed by most of the 32 senators in the Dominican Congress.

Hundreds of Dominican students might be affected by end of DACA
The most recent action by US President Donald Trump instructing the Congress to create compensating legislation for the so-called unconstitutional DACA executive order created by President Obama possibly threatens the continued studies of hundreds of Dominican students in the United States who are undocumented aliens. Known as “dreamers” these children who came to the United States often times as infants are subject to deportation.

Prior to the end of his mandate, then President Barrack Obama was not able to get legislation passed through Congress that would grant an amnesty to the hundreds of thousands of dreamers. Instead, President Obama decided to issue an Executive Order, now known as DACA that allowed these children to study, obtain drivers licenses and work permits that could be renewed every two years.

Action taken on Tuesday, 5 September 2017 by President Trump does not mean the immediate deportation of anyone but rather initiates a six-month period in which the President has called on his Congress to seek a legal solution.

As reported by the Diario Libre, this action places in limbo the situation of hundreds of thousands of students throughout the United States. In New York, with its large Dominican population, the reaction to the news from the White House was as to be expected with the governor, the mayor, and US Congressman Adriano Espaillat together with city leaders up in arms over the announcement.

Maroon 5 show cancelled in Punta Cana, other events rescheduled
Major rainstorms and flooding expected to come with the passing of Hurricane Irma on Thursday has led promoters of the Maroon 5 concert at the Hard Rock Punta Cana to suspend the show. The Maroon 5 show would have been on Saturday, 9 September 2017. A press release to the effect was issued by the executives of Live Nation, SD Concerts, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 said the concert would not be rescheduled for the next three months, but a new date would be set.

Hard Rock Live announced that the Tribute to Police scheduled for Thursday, 7 September is rescheduled for Sunday, 10 September.

Big Show Pro announced the postponing for a week of the Gilberto Santa Rosa show. The new dates are Friday, 15 September at the Gran Teatro del Cibao in Santiago and Saturday, 16 and Sunday, 17 at the National Theater in Santo Domingo.

The National Symphony Orchestra announced the postponing of the symphony concert set for Wednesday, 6 September for 25 October 2017.

Also suspended is the Guloya Pocket Theater Festival (VII Festival Teatro de Bolsillo) and performances of Le Prenon at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater, “Atracame Mas“ at the Palacio de Bellas Artes; “Nosotros que nos Queremos Tanto at the Teatro Las Mascaras.

The Puerto Plata warm up for the Presidente Music Festival is rescheduled for Saturday, 28 October on the Malecón of Puerto Plata.

The Dominican Judo Federation announced the postponing of the Panamerican Judo Open Santo Domingo 2017 that would have taken place 9-10 September at the Parque del Este.

Fine Arts Film Festival: 28 September-11 October 2017
The 8th International Fine Arts Film Festival opens at theaters in Santo Domingo (Novocentro and Downtown Center), La Marina in Casa de Campo and Plaza Internacional in Santiago on 28 September 2017. The festival is best known for bringing international films that otherwise Dominican audiences would not see. The film festival is simultaneously carried out at movie houses in Puerto Rico.

Among the selection of 17 films from 15 countries is “Ultimos días en La Habana” by Cuban Fernando Pérez; “The Student” by Russian director Kiril Serebrennikov; “A Man Called Ove,” the Swedish film by director Hannes Holm; the French film Aurore by Blandine Lenoir; “Barrage” a Belgium-France production by Laura Schroeder; from Thailand, “By the Time it Gets Dark” by Anocha Suwichakornpong; “Clash” by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab; and”Devil’s Bride” by Saara Cantell of Finland; among others.