Marshall Islands/Kiribati: King Tides - Mar 2014

Past disaster

Disaster description

On 3 Mar 2014, tidal surges during the morning and afternoon high tides caused inundation to communities on low-lying atolls of the Marshal Islands. Waves washed over shorelines, sending water, rubbish and debris across roads and properties. There are no reports of fatalities or serious injuries. The Government declared a state of emergency, set up an Emergency Operations Centre and has been holding National Disaster Committee meetings with humanitarian partners. (OCHA, 4 Mar 2014)

In Majuro, a total of 70 homes were damaged to varying degrees, from complete destruction to minor damage. The total number of evacuees peaked at 940; by 7 Mar, 160 people were still displaced and had been relocated to churches in Uliga and Rita. The outer islands of Mili, Maloelap, Kili and Wotje were also affected, with severe impacts to Arno. Tinak Health Centre was completely destroyed, and Malel and Kilange Health Centres are low on medical supplies. Most breadfruit, pandanus and banana trees have been destroyed, and shops have lost all food stock. Many household water catchments are damaged and community tanks contaminated. Around 80 per cent of sanitation facilities are affected, with sewage reported in some locations. (OCHA, 7 Mar 2014)

The tidal surges also caused damage to five islands in Kiribati. Most of the impact is to Marakei Atoll (population 2,872), with approximately 44 homes damaged and evacuees sheltering in community halls. There is also damage to sea walls and causeways on the main island, Tarawa. Access to clean drinking water is a key concern as groundwater sources have been contaminated. The Government has requested the support of Kiribati Red Cross Society in carrying out initial damage assessments. A state of emergency and international assistance will be decided once assessments are complete. (OCHA, 7 Mar 2014)

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