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Caribbean Hurricane Season OCHA Situation Report No. 29

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HIGHLIGHTS

- According to experts from the Hurricane Center in the Colorado State University, the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season is ending as one of the most devastating, with a huge number of casualties and widespread destruction in the Caribbean, Central America and the United States.

- In Haiti, 23 malnourished children are currently being treated at the St Michel hospital in Jacmel, in the South-East department. This newly-installed therapeutic feeding unit continues to be strengthened.

- Much remains to be done to normalise the water supply in many parts of Haiti.

- Only 13.4% of shelter needs and 27.5% of non-food item needs have so far been met countrywide. In Gonaives, additional tents are urgently needed as well as a decision regarding the use of La Hatte Rocher as a relocation site.

REGIONAL OVERVIEW

1. According to experts from the Hurricane Center in the Colorado State University, the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season is ending as one of the most devastating with a huge number of casualties and widespread destruction in the Caribbean, Central America and the United States. It was a very active season with 16 tropical storms, eight of which were hurricanes - five of them with high intensity. In comparison, in 2007, 17 tropical storms formed, six became hurricanes of which two were major hurricanes. The hurricane season started early in May 2008 with Arthur while hurricane Paloma became the second strongest hurricane of the season at its end in November.

CUBA

SITUATION

2. As a result of the fourth cold front of the winter season, which passed over the Eastern region of Cuba from 17 to 20 November, torrential rains affected the areas of Holguin and Granma provinces causing severe flooding. The most affected municipalities are Yara, Bayamo, and Manzanillo in Granma province and Sagua de Tánamo, Frank País and Mayarí en Holguin province. This situation adds to the very serious damage caused by the three hurricanes (Gustav, Ike, and Paloma) and two tropical storms (Fay and Hanna) that affected Cuba in 2008. According to official information, these hurricanes have caused around USD 10 billion of damage to Cuba as reported in OCHA Situation Report No. 28 of 13 November. Rains are however expected to decrease.

3. The Cuban authorities activated the disaster management bodies in the provinces of Holguin and Granma and evacuated some 20,000 people. The majority of the evacuees were staying with family and friends, and a few are in shelter. Authorities are monitoring all the dams in Holguin and Granma and have opened the spill-ways for water release to avoid further flooding. Rivers that overflowed have interrupted traffic on many roads in Granma and Hologuin.

4. Moreover, a large quantity of the short-cycle crops, which formed part of the agricultural production recovery plan following the previous hurricanes and storms, have suffered, thus affecting the support plan for food security undertaken by the local governments. In the housing sector, around respectively 400 houses in Granma and 2,000 in Holguin are flooded. In the province of Granma, thus far this year, the communities of La Pompita in Bayamo, Blanquizal-Vuelta del Caño in Manzanillo and Sofía, Las Caobas, Gutierrez and Yamagual in Yara have experienced flooding on more than three occasions.

5. The United Nations System in Cuba maintains all of is disaster management mechanisms activated, due to the situation that the country is going through. The United Nations Country Team in Cuba and UNETE (United Nations Emergency Technical Team) continue to closely monitor the present situation and work on the preliminary evaluation of damage. OCHA and UNDSS regional offices located in Panama have maintained constant contact with the Resident Coordinator/Designated Official, offering their support. The central and regional headquarters of the agencies of the United Nations System remain in contact with their agencies present in Cuba.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.