Caribbean: Hurricanes Dennis & Emily Appeal No. 05EA14

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In Brief

THIS EMERGENCY APPEAL SEEKS CHF 758,000 (USD 587,505 OR EUR486,390) IN CASH, KIND, OR SERVICES TO ASSIST 35,000 BENEFICIARIES (6,000 FAMILIES) FOR 3 MONTHS

NOTE: GIVEN THE DEVELOPING NATURE OF THIS DISASTER AND ONGOING DAMAGE AND NEEDS ASSESSMENTS, THIS APPEAL WILL BE REVISED TO INCLUDE ADDITIONAL COUNTRIES AS HURRICANE EMILY PROGRESSES THROUGH THE CARIBBEAN. THE FEDERATION'S APPROACH TO THIS OPERATION AND THE STRATEGY OUTLINED IN THIS APPEAL ARE INTENDED TO BE FLEXIBLE; DONORS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE TIMELY SUPPORT, WITH MINIMUM EARMARKING.

CHF 250,000 HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM THE FEDERATION'S DISASTER RELIEF EMERGENCY FUND (DREF).

The situation

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 60 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. A team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reported that Dennis caused flooding in Les Cayes and Grand Anse in the country's southern region. Coastal villages were evacuated. According to data from the Civil Protection, at least 20 people have died as a result of the storm. About 254 people are believed to be in shelters in Les Cayes, 100 in shelters in Port-Salut, and 300 in Grand Anse. The PAHO/UNDP team reports that 17 houses have been destroyed and 16 have been heavily damaged. The hospital in Les Cayes is flooded but continues to treat patients. One of the main bridges in Grand Goâves, in the southern part of the country, has collapsed, completely blocking access. An assessment undertaken by the Civil Protection with the participation of the Red Cross branches in the affected areas indicates that 1,500 families are homeless as a result of the flooding in Grand Anse of whom 675 are in urgent need of assistance. The collapse is the cause of several of the deaths being reported. The Haitian government has 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. The storm brought hurricane force winds that extended outward from the centre up to 50 miles. 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, and this number is expected to rise as assessments continue. Persons were moved to shelters, mostly in the north eastern section of the country. In St. Thomas, main roads remain impassable and several communities have been cut-off. Many persons are unable to return home as their homes were either washed away or the water has not yet begun to recede. The main bridge to Port Antonio, Portland has been destroyed while St. Mary is said to have experienced substantial agricultural damage. 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. Some businesses in Jamaica have now returned to their normal functions and there are no major reports of power outages. There is however a temporary loss of water in some areas and the National Water Commission confirmed that just less than 30 percent of supply systems were not operating at normal capacity.

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, 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 high winds and heavy rains also cut water and electrical services in the affected parts of the country. Crews are currently working to restore these services. As of yesterday, 13 July, 19,200 remained evacuated, 17,700 of whom are in the 250 shelters scattered around the country, particularly in the western part of the island. Cuba's immediate needs are for materials to cover roofs, mattresses, generators, chlorine tablets, canned foods, transport materials, jerry cans, hygiene kits and first aid kits. There is likely to be a longer term need for rehabilitation and repair of housing. As well, the damage suffered by the agriculture industry may result in longer term food needs. There will be a National Disaster Committee meeting in Cuba next week, after which international assistance may be requested.

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. Tropical Storm Emily was upgraded to a category one hurricane late Wednesday night, 13 July, and hurricane warnings were issued for Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Tobago. A tropical storm warning was issued for Trinidad and a tropical storm watch was issued for Martinique. All tropical storm warnings for the Windward Islands have now been discontinued.

As of 1100 CET Hurricane Emily is continuing to strengthen as it moves across the eastern Caribbean and is now a dangerous category four storm. Emily is moving towards the westnorthwest near 33km/hr (21 mph). Maximum sustained winds have increased and are now near 215km/hr (135mph), with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the northern coast of Venezuela. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba. In addition, the government of the Dominican Republic has issued a tropical storm warning from Punta Salinas westward to the Dominican Republic/Haiti border. The government of Haiti has issued a tropical storm warning from the Dominican Republic/Haiti border to Port-au- Prince. The government of Jamaica has issued a hurricane warning for Jamaica.

Hurricane Emily passed over the island of Grenada early Thursday morning, 14 July, where it caused significant damage to buildings and crops. The skies have now cleared, allowing the Red Cross and other actors to further the assessments of damage already begun. The island is still without electricity. It is expected that electricity will probably be restored in the next 48 hours. Damage to water dams has affected the water system. Approximately 1,800 residents have occupied the 48 temporary shelters that have been opened on the island. Some of the shelter occupants have been destitute since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. With businesses closed, there will soon be a need for the provision of food. It is possible that the Chamber of Commerce will provide assistance in this area. The parishes of St. Patrick and St. Andrew have been the most affected, as well as the dependencies of Carriacou and Petit Martinique. The damage is less severe in the parish of St. David. The major health facilities are operating, however there have been reports of damage to the Carriacou hospital's roof. As of yet, there are no reports of casualties caused by the storm. Some roads have been blocked by landslides and overflowing rivers. The Grenada Red Cross (GRC) will undertake an aerial assessment, to better understand the damage inflicted by Emily. As well, 30 Red Cross volunteers and staff members have been dispatched to assess the most vulnerable parishes. Following the assessments, the GRC will focus on distributing materials and on providing psychosocial support, for which trained experts are already available because of training received in response to Hurricane Ivan. There may also be a need for the GRC to support the management of shelters. A Federation disaster management delegate will arrive in Grenada tomorrow, 15 July, to support assessment and response activities.

In the other 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, a damage and needs assessment will be carried out to determine the full extent of the damage, although preliminary reports indicate that 11 houses have 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. In Trinidad and Tobago, a rapid nationwide assessment was conducted yesterday, 14 July. There have been 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. Aranguez Bridge washed away. Reports of Cunupia Bridge being washed away are being investigated. Water mains burst in Maraval, Trinidad. The Princess Elizabeth Home for children with cerebral palsy in Trinidad was flooded, and clean-up is underway. There was localised disruption to electricity supplies. In North Trinidad, the power was cut to 1,300 houses, but it has now been restored. In East Trinidad, the power was cut to 3,300 houses; in Tobago 11,000 houses were without power; of these, power has since been restored to 8,200 houses. Full restoration of electricity is expected by July 15th. Trinidad's main airport and Tobago's airport were both closed overnight, 13 to 14 July and have since re-opened. Both land and cellular phone lines are operating normally. Overall security in Trinidad and Tobago is good.

As Hurricane Emily now moves towards the Netherlands Antilles of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, the Overseas Branches of the Netherlands Red Cross is attending meetings with disaster committees. Red Cross volunteers are on standby and the contingency plan has been activated.

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 (1 473) 440-1483, fax (1 473) 440-1829

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

In Haiti: Hans Havik, Head of Haiti Country Office, Port-au-Prince; email ifrcht03@ifrc.org, phone (509) 510-2629, fax (509) 221-2838

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

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

In Panama: Gilberto Guevara, Head of Regional Delegation, Panama City; email ifrcpa51@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

For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.

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