Uruguay: Floods and Tornado - DREF Final Report (EPoA) MDRUY002

Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

The El Niño phenomenon had been causing extremely unstable climatic conditions in Uruguay and southern Brazil since 2015.

Specifically, it brought heavy rains that raised river levels in southern Brazil, which in turn caused rivers to swell and overflow their banks in Uruguay; , It also produced heavy rainfall and a tornadoin April 2016, which caused flooding and destroyed homes in various areas in Uruguay. According to Uruguay's National Emergency System's (SINAE) 21 April 2016 report, both events displaced more than 10,355 people. The climatic instability phenomenon affected the entire country, causing floods and flood victims in the country's 19 departments.

On the afternoon of Friday, 15 April 2016, a strong tornado touched down in the city of Dolores in the department of Soriano, affecting mainly the city's downtown area. Departmental authorities indicated that the phenomenon was "very large" and more powerful than the one that occurred in 2012. The tornado's "funnel" began forming a little after 16:00h over western suburban areas of the city, later moving across General Fructuoso Rivera Street and toward the downtown area. A few seconds later, it veered south, causing major damage to the area between Rivera (to the west), Route 21, the Juan Manuel Blanes perimeter road and Paso de la Arena road (to the east). The most affected neighbourhoods were Cadol, Barrio Paris, Centro and Altos de Dolores.

The atmospheric phenomenon wreaked havoc on local homes, streets and businesses. Assessments carried out by the authorities reported 1,544 affected families (4,431 people), and inspections gave1,643 damaged properties the following designations: 251 Reds (destroyed, with severe or total damage, 521 Yellows (damaged), and 871 Greens (minor damage).

Some 155 businesses were affected, which on average had engaged in commercial activities for 16 years: 63 per cent were formal, while the rest were informal; 27.1 per cent conducted business out of business owners’ homes, while 72.9 per cent did not; 55.8 per cent lost merchandise and raw materials; 51 per cent lost work tools; 23 per cent lost office equipment; and 73.9 per cent were uninsured. Affected businesses included stores, supermarkets, shops, furniture stores, carpentry workshops, inns, metal workshops, mechanic workshops, blacksmiths, distributors, bakeries, pasta factories, veterinarians, agribusinesses, payment services, banks, credit unions, shoe shops, hairdressers, transport agencies, media outlets, beekeepers, and butcher shops, among others.