Caribbean: Hurricanes Dennis & Emily Appeal No. 05EA14 Operations Update No. 1

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In Brief

Appeal No. 05EA014; Operations Update no. 01; Period covered: 15 to 18 July, 2005; Appeal coverage: %;

Appeal history:

- Launched on 15 July 2005 for CHF 758,000 (USD 587,505 or EUR 486,390) for 3 months to assist 30,000 beneficiaries (6,000 beneficiary families).

- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 250,000

THE PLANS OF ACTION AND BUDGET UNDER THIS APPEAL ARE BEING ADJUSTED AS DETAILED NEEDS ASSESSMENTS ARE COMPLETED IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANES DENNIS AND EMILY IN THE CARIBBEAN; THE ADJUSTRED BUDGET WILL BE ATTACHED TO THE NEXT OPERATIONS UPDATE.

In accordance with the Federation's flexible strategy and approach to this operation, donors are encouraged to provide support, with minimum earmarking. To date no contributions have been received in response to this Appeal and donations are urgently sought.

Outstanding needs: CHF 758,000 (USD 587,505 or EUR 486,390)

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Caribbean Annual Appeal 05AA041; Guyana: Floods Emergency Appeal 05EA001

Operational Summary: Cuba, Grenada, Haiti and Jamaica were particularly affected by the passage of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily. This Appeal covers needs in Grenada, Haiti and Jamaica; confirmation was received today from the Cuban Red Cross that the National Society is not requesting international assistance. The Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) responded immediately to the threat of the Hurricanes, providing support for the National Societies through the deployment of a disaster management delegate to Haiti who then moved to assist the Grenada Red Cross Society (GRCS). A total of three air lifts and one ocean shipment of re lief goods including hygiene kits, kitchen sets, plastic buckets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, first aid kits, equipment for volunteers, blankets and sleeping mats reached Grenada on 10 and 16 July and Jamaica on 18 July. In Grenada, GRCS volunteers have distributed 900 family hygiene kits, 1,800 pieces of plastic sheeting in communities together with 1,500 litres of water to people living in shelters. The Jamaica Red Cross (JRC) has also begun relief distributions of goods received from PADRU and relief supplies in stock. The Haitian National Red Cross Society is working to organize distribution of relief goods, particularly hygiene kits, kitchen sets and blankets to 2,000 vulnerable families severely affected by Hurricanes Dennis and Emily in the South and West of the Country, as well as in the area of Saint Marc, some 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

There is concern that, so early in the Hurricane Season, two forceful Hurricanes have already formed causing significant damage and suffering whilst vulnerable communities in Grenada, Haiti and Jamaica are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Jeanne which hit in 2004.

No contributions have been received to date for this Appeal and donors are urged to provide funding urgently in orde r to ensure that the Red Cross meets the needs of those most severely affected by Hurricanes Dennis and Emily.

Background

Although it is still early in the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from 1 June to 30 November, the Caribbean Region has already been affected by two major hurricanes. The first hurricane of the season was Dennis, which caused at least 30 deaths in the Caribbean before weakening to a tropical storm over the southern United States.

The storm's rain battered the southern coast of Haiti, causing rivers to overflow and roads to be flooded. Coastal villages were evacuated and approximately 654 people sought refuge in temporary shelters, particularly in the regions of Les Cayes, Port-Salut, and Grand Anse. According to data from the Civil Protection, at least 20 people died as a result of the storm. The hospital in Les Cayes was flooded but continued to treat patients throughout and after the passage of the storm. One of the main bridges in Grand Goâves, in the southern part of the country, collapsed, completely blocking access. An assessment undertaken by the Civil Protection with the participation of the Red Cross branches in the affected areas has indicated that 1,500 families became homeless as a result of the flooding in Grand Anse, of whom 675 are in urgent need of assistance. The Haitian government allocated five million gourdes (USD 123,653) towards the relief effort.

Hurricane Dennis struck Jamaica on Thursday, 7 July, as it strengthened to a category three hurricane. Although wind damage was not intense, the system brought substantial flooding causing severe mudslides. Residents of low lying areas as well as coastal towns -- where a large part of the population lives -- were advised to seek higher ground. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) confirmed that approximately 8,000 persons were affected in Jamaica. Persons were moved to shelters, mostly in the north eastern area of the country. The parishes of St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland appear to be the areas that have sustained the greatest impact, though effects of Dennis were felt in other parishes across the island.

Hurricane Dennis, at that time a category four hurricane, pounded Cuba for ten hours on Friday, 8 July, before heading back into the Gulf of Mexico and moving towards the United States. Hurricane Dennis left ten people dead across the country and destroyed thousands of houses in the provinces of Habana, Camaguey, Ciego de Ávila, Las Tunas, Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas, Sancti Espíritus and Guatanamo. In total, more than 1,400,000 people were evacuated, including tourists, 196,000 of which were moved to emergency shelters. Once the hurricane had passed over Cuba, national authorities, together with the Civil Defence and the Cuban Red Cross began conducting damage and needs assessments. While evaluation teams are still collecting data from throughout the country, the Cuban Civil Defence Agency is currently estimating that some eight million people were affected by the hurricane and some 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The Cuban Red Cross has officially confirmed that the National Society does not require international assistance from the Federation to meet the needs of those affected by Hurricane Dennis.

Hurricane Emily, the second major hurricane of the season, first began to form on 12 July in the eastern Caribbean Sea and moved towards the Windward Islands. Of the Windward Islands, Grenada was the most seriously affected by Hurricane Emily , which passed over the island early Thursday morning, 14 July, causing significant damage to buildings and crops. One death was reported in Grenada, as a result of the storm. The parishes of St. Patrick and St. Andrew were most affected, as well as the dependencies of Carriacou and Petit Martinique. The situation in Carriacou is still challenging and it will take 2 to 3 weeks before the situation returns to normal. As of Saturday, 16 July, the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) was reporting that of the 4,281 people that occupied shelters during the passage of the storm, 672 remained temporarily housed in shelters. Some of the shelter occupants have been destitute since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. With such a large number of persons requiring ongoing temporary shelter, there is a growing necessity to meet their food needs. NaDMA also reports that 2,641 roofs have been damaged, of which the majority are in the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Patrick, and 167 families are homeless. There is a need for plastic sheeting, not only for the roofs damaged by Emily, but also for the many families affected by Ivan. Some families that suffered roof damage or loss by Ivan were still using plastic sheeting when Emily hit, and therefore have lost this protection. Thirty Red Cross volunteers and staff members were dispatched to assess the most vulnerable parishes. The Grenada Red Cross Society's focus will be on distributing materials and on providing psychosocial support, for which experts are already available as a result of training received in response to Hurricane Ivan. A Federation disaster management delegate arrived in Grenada on Saturday, 16 July, to support assessment and response activities.

In the other Windward Island countries affected by Hurricane Emily, there appear to be at this time only minimal needs that are being addressed by their respective governments and Red Cross Societies. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, initial damage and needs assessment indicated that 11 houses lost their roofs: seven on the main island of St. Vincent, one in Cannau and three in Union. In total, 530 people were evacuated to 31 shelters in the country. A Federation disaster management delegate was pre-deployed to Saint Vincent on Wednesday, 13 July, to support assessment and response activities. In Trinidad and Tobago, a rapid nationwide assessment was conducted on 14 July. There were no casualties as a result of Hurricane Emily. In Tobago, two houses were destroyed and thirty suffered roof loss. In Trinidad, six houses suffered partial roof loss, and some 200 to 300 houses suffered flood damage. Several roads were affected by localized flooding, but the water has now subsided. Several landslides were reported in Trinidad and North Tobago.

No needs are reported by the Netherlands Antilles of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

Although Hurricane Emily had strengthened to category four status as it approached Jamaica, the storm passed far enough from the island to only cause tropical storm conditions. It has been reported that this hurricane had a lesser impact on the country than its predecessor, Dennis. It has been confirmed that the passage of Hurricane Emily caused flooding in 65 communities in 8 parishes across the island, with the main areas of impact being Manchester and St. Elizabeth. The aerial reconnaissance conducted by the Rapid Damage Assessment Team confirmed the areas with the most damage. Approximately 3,594 persons occupied 108 shelters at the height of the storm, however, the majority of these shelters are now closed.

Throughout the storm and in its aftermath, the Jamaica Red Cross remained in communication with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), while the Red Cross branches maintained the parish-level communication with the Parish Disaster Committees.

The Cayman Islands experienced tropical storm conditions as a result of Hurricane Emily , which passed to the south of the islands throughout the night of 16-17 July. Telephone and electricity services were not affected and water was expected to have been restored yesterday, 17 July. The Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC) briefed its volunteers and distributed emergency supply kits prior to Emily's arrival. Approximately 700 people stayed in temporary shelters on Saturday night, 60 of whom were in Red Cross shelters. Red Cross First Aid volunteers were assigned to each shelter. Shelters began closing on Sunday, 17 July, as people return to their homes. Following Emily's passage, the CRIC has begun to deploy damage assessment teams; there has been no major damages reported so far.

Haiti experienced heavy rains with the passage of Emily, resulting in extensive flooding in the coastal city of Saint Marc and surrounding areas. A representative of the Haïtian National Red Cross Society (HNRCS) and the Federation, together with the French Red Cross, conducted a damage and needs assessment of the affected area on Sunday, 17 July. The assessment s indicated that five people are dead (four of whom are infants), one person is missing, and thirty children are injured.

At 2:00am local time (7:00GMT) Monday, 18 July, Emily entered the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. At that time a category four storm, Emily packed winds of 135km/h (84mph). Emily has now crossed through the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan, into the Gulf of Mexico. In anticipation of the storm, approximately 60,000 tourists were evacuated from the tourist areas on the peninsula, such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel; this included 30,000 people who entered temporary shelters in Cancun. The Mexican Red Cross (MRC) began to preposition materials, volunteers and support equipment in the state of Quintana Roo on Saturday, 16 July; including 38 tons of material, 6 transportation units, a communications unit, and 20 members of the National Rapid Intervention Unit. Furthermore, the MRC deployed its National Disaster Operations Coordinator to coordinate preparedness and response activities. Thus far, initial needs as a result of Emily are being addressed by the government and the MRC.

It is expected that Emily will cross back into Mexico on the eastern coast late Tuesday night, 19 July. While Emily decreased to category one status after hitting the Yucatan peninsula, it is expected that winds will increase while crossing the Mexican gulf, possibly attaining category three status before reaching land.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Grenada: Terry Charles, Director General of Grenada Red Cross Society; email crercs@caribsurf.com, phone (1473) 440-1483, fax (1 473) 440-1829

In Haiti: Dr. Michaèle Amédée Gédéon, President, Haitian National Red Cross Society; email =B7 croroha@haitiworld.com, phone (509) 510-9813, fax (509) 223-1054

In Haiti: Athanase Ntampuhwe, Acting Head of Haiti Country Delegation, Port-au-Prince; email ifrcht03@ifrc.org, phone (509) 510-2629, fax (509) 221-2838

In Jamaica: Yvonne Clarke, Director General, Jamaica Red Cross; email yvonneclarke@jamaicaredcross.org, phone (1876) 984-7860, fax (1 876) 984-8272

In Trinidad and Tobago: Julia Brothwell, Sub Regional Office Coordinator, Port of Spain; email ifrctt06@ifrc.org, =B7 phone (1 868) 627-2665, fax (1 868) 627-9627

In Panama: Xavier Castellanos, Acting Head of Regional Delegation, Panama City; email ifrcpa90@ifrc.org, phone (507); 317-1300, fax (507) 317-1304

In Panama: Nathan Cooper, Disaster Management Delegate, Pan American Disaster Response Unit, Panama City; email ifrcpa17@ifrc.org, phone (507) 316-1001, fax (507) 316-1082

In Geneva: Luis Luna, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email luis.luna@ifrc.org, phone (41 22) 730-4274, fax (41 22) 733-0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

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