Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico: Hurricane Wilma Appeal No. 05EA024 Operations Update No. 2

The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.
In Brief

Period covered: 28 January to 31 July, 2006

Appeal target: CHF 1,918,000 (USD 1,498,000 or EUR 1,237,000)

Appeal coverage: 76.26%;

Outstanding needs: CHF 455,313 as per the Appeal target. However, due to the receipt of a number of bilateral contributions and donations in-kind, the Federation is no longer seeking funds for this Appeal.

Appeal history:

- Launched on 26 October, 2005 for CHF 1,918,000 (USD 1,498,000 or EUR 1,237,000) in cash, kind or services to assist 14,000 families (70,000 beneficiaries) for 6 months.

- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 220,000 (USD 170,276 or EUR 142,497).

- The Appeal period was initially extended by 3 months, until 26 July 2006, for the Cuban Red Cross in order to complete the implementation of relief assistance.

- The appeal period has now been extended to 31 December 2006 for the Cuban and Mexican Red Cross Societies in order to complete the implementation of activities. A Final Report is therefore due on 31 March 2007.

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: El Salvador: Floods and Volcanic Activity (Appeal 05EA020); Central America, Mexico and Haiti: Floods from Hurricane Stan (Appeal 05EA021)

Operational Summary: Immediately following the emergency and in view of the devastation caused by Hurricane Wilma, the Bahamas, Cuban and Mexican Red Cross Societies worked arduously to respond to the needs of the most affected families, providing assistance to over 21,490 families (107,450 beneficiaries) - of which over 13,000 families (65,000 people) were assisted directly through Appeal funds. The reduction by 1,000 in beneficiary families from the original Appeal objectives is due to the limited Appeal coverage, and by price increases on local markets, which have particularly affected operations in Cuba. Distributions of food and non food items were concluded for the most part by January 2006 and most activities under the emergency phase of the operation declared completed by March 2006. In Cuba, procurement and distribution of household items and zinc sheeting for the repair of roofing is underway.

Activities during the reporting period have primarily concentrated on post-emergency assessments and on capacity building activities, aimed at reinforcing the disaster response capabilities of branches in the most affected areas, as well as raising awareness in disaster preparedness at community level. In addition, the Appeal has afforded National Societies the opportunity to acquire much needed communications and search and rescue equipment.

The International Federation's Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) has continued to work closely with the Cuban and Mexican Red Cross Societies in finalizing procurement of goods for rehabilitation activities, as well as in organizing a number of training sessions and workshops to build capacity in disaster response. Regional Intervention Team (RIT) members have been deployed to Cuba and Mexico for incountry disaster preparedness activities.

Following receipt of additional funds towards the close of the emergency phase of the operation, the Mexican Red Cross is currently carrying out further assessments in view of distributions of relief items to more families in need of assistance in the State of Quintana Roo.

The International Federation undertakes activities that are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background

Hurricane Wilma, the 12th hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, battered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, the state of Florida in the United States, and the Bahamas between 20 and 24 October, causing widespread destruction. The slow-moving category four storm, bringing winds of up to 225 km/h (140 mph), caused widespread flooding in Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas.

The storm and subsequent flooding resulted in extensive damage to homes in the most affected regions, virtually decimating the Mexican resort town of Cancun and the island of Cozumel. Although Cuba was spared a direct hit, Wilma lashed the capital city of Havana and storm surges forced the evacuation of almost 800,000 people from high risk areas in seven provinces: Granma, Santiago, Guantanamo, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Pinar del Rio and Sancti Spiritus.

The storm was a category 3 hurricane when it struck the islands of the Bahamas on 24 October, with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour, and a surge of about 10-15 feet. Grand Bahama and Bimini received the brunt of the hurricane - at a time when the population of Grand Bahama was still recovering from the impact of hurricanes Frances and Jeanne (September 2004), and therefore particularly vulnerable. Large scale flooding as a result of the sea surges washed away a number of homes and caused serious damage.

Due to the extensive damage sustained by an estimated 15,000 homes in Cuba, rehabilitation activities are still underway, with the distribution of zinc sheeting for roofing purposes. In addition, authorities in Mexico are in the process of re-locating residents from areas considered to be at high risk; the Mexican Red Cross (MRC) is monitoring the on-going needs of the most vulnerable in these communities. In most instances, residents were able to move back to their homes once the flooding had subsided and immediate emergency response operations in all three countries were completed early in 2006.

Operational developments

The National Societies in the three countries responded immediately to the disaster, in close coordination with national and regional authorities, to deliver essential food and non-food relief goods to the affected communities. The International Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) provided support to the operations in the Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico with the immediate deployment of Disaster Management Delegates to both the Bahamas and Mexico, the dispatch of relief goods to supplement National Society stocks in all three countries - in particular hygiene kits and kitchen sets, as well as plastic sheeting and other non-food relief items from prepositioned stocks at the PADRU warehouse in Panama.

Relief activities were concluded for the most part by early 2006 and the emergency phase of the operation declared completed by mid-March. In response to the need for assistance in rehabilitation and reconstruction in Cuba - specifically for roof reconstruction with zinc sheeting and related materials - the receipt of procured goods and related distribution activities are expected to be concluded by the end of September.

In order to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season, the Mexican Red Cross is ensuring constant monitoring and communication with both the state and federal authorities in the area of civil protection; a programme for preparation and training in damage assessment, temporary shelter management and the management of collection and distribution centres has been set up for the staff of branches in the states which are susceptible to hurricane disasters.

With the completion of relief operations, the Mexican and Cuban Red Cross Societies have been focusing their activities on capacity building. Additional details are presented in the relevant section below.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In the Bahamas: Marina Glinton, Director General, Bahamas Red Cross Society, Nassau; email redcross@bahamas.net.bs, phone (1 242) 323-7370, fax (1 242) 323-7404

In Cuba: Dr. Luis Foyo Ceballos, Executive President, Cuban Red Cross, Havana; email crsn@infoed.sld.cu, phone (53) 7-228- 272, fax (53) 7-228-272

In Mexico: Antonio Fernandez Arena, Director General, Mexican Red Cross, Mexico City; email dirgral@cruzrojamexicana.org, phone (5255) 1084-4510/4511, fax (5255) 1084-4514

In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Coordinator, Pan American Disaster Response Unit; email stephen.mcandrew@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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