Cuba + 2 more

The Caribbean: Hurricane Wilma OCHA Situation Report No. 4

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0177
Hurricane Wilma - The Caribbean
23 October 2005
This message is not an official hurricane warning or alert for any country

1. The National Weather Center in Miami reports that at 0900GMT today, the center of category II Hurricane Wilma was located near latitude 22.1 North, longitude 86.6 West or about 40 miles (65 km) southeast of Cancun, Mexico.

2. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for all of the Florida Keys, including the Dry Torutgas and Florida Bay along the Florida west coast Longboat Key southward and along the Florida east coast from Titusville southward, including lake Okeechobee.

3. Tropical Storm Warning is in effect along the Florida west coast north of Longboat Key to Steinhachee River and along the Florida east coast north of Titusville to Flagler Beach. A Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect along the coast of Florida from north of Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach.

4. A Hurricane Warning remains in from San Felipe to Punta Gruesa on the Yucatan Peninsula, including Cozumel and the nearby islands and a Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect west of San Felipe to Progreso.

5. A Hurricane Warning remains in effect for the Cuban provinces of La Habana, Ciudad de La Habana and Pinar del Rio. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Isle of Youth. A Hurricane Watch remains in effect for the Province of Matanzas.

6. A Hurricane Watch remains in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos Andros island, Berry islands, Bimini Eleuthera, Grand Bahamas island and New Providence

7. Wilma is moving toward the northeast near 3 mph (5 km/h) and an increase in forward speed is expected during the next 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds are near 100 MPH (160 KM/HR) with higher gusts.

Situation

The following report is based on information provided by the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Cuba and Mexico, the national emergency management agencies in both countries, as well as media reports.

Mexico

8. The Yucatan peninsula was pounded by hurricane Wilma during more than 36 hours. It made landfall near Cozumel, as a category IV hurricane, and left the peninsula near Cabo Catoche, somehow weakened, as a category II hurricane.

9. According to official sources, three people died and the number of persons affected could reach 1 million. There are over 100 temporary shelters operating in the states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan, housing some 22,000 persons.

10. Civil Protection has been able to dispatch to the affected areas 150,000 food rations, 270,000 litres of bottled water, 3,750 personal hygiene kits and 45,000 domestic cleaning kits, with resources from the Fund for Natural Disasters (FONDEN).

11. Wilma caused widespread damage to energy and telecommunication distribution systems, urban infrastructure, homes, roads, and to the agriculture, fishing, and tourism sectors. Floods have been reported in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. According to media sources, acts of pillage and looting have been registered in Cancun.

12. The Mexican Red Cross has set-up an operations centre in the state of Quintana Roo. National Intervention Teams and 54 tonnes of food supplies and water have been dispatched to the Yucatan peninsula. Another 18 tonnes of supplies are ready to be airlifted once operations are resumed at the Cancun airport.

Cuba

13. The number of evacuated people exceeds 622,000. The majority of the evacuated people come from the western provinces of Pinar del Rio and Havana. Of the total number of evacuees, the number of tourists is maintained at 1,000. Some 45,000 persons are lodged in government provided shelters, with food and medical attention. The rest of the evacuees are with neighbors or relatives living in safe areas.

14. The national authorities have activated food processing centers and shelters totalling 486 and 1002 respectively. The number of mobilized personnel (emergency workers, medical doctors, social workers) working for the emergency surpasses 71,000.

15. Heavy rains of up to 100 millilitres, wind gusts, and coastal flooding have been reported in western Pinar del Rio, meanwhile, the hurricane's outer bands have already caused heavy rains. In some locations of Pinar del Rio, like Mantua, the authorities have reported up to 200 millilitres of rain.

16. Tornados have developed in the towns of Cortes and San Juan y Martinez in Pinar del Rio, where 82-kilometer wind gusts have been reported as well. These tornados have affected roofs of the residential sector. Communications by road have suffered heavy damages in roads linking Isabel Rubio and Guane, La Bajada and Mantua, due to heavy rains and flooding.

17. The electricity installations in Pinar del Rio have also been damaged by Wilma. The storm damaged electricity lines in the cities of Cortés, Sandino and Consolación del Sur, in the western province of Pinar del Rio, leaving 17,000 people without electricity. In the south coast of the central provinces of Cuba, the municipalities of Tunas de Saza and Megano are still affected by sea penetrations.

18. The eastern provinces of the country that were previously affected by hurricane "Dennis" in July 2005, were struck again by Wilma, compounding the negative impact. Today, the National Civil Defense announced the Alert Phase for the provinces of Guantánamo, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba, due to another Tropical Storm, the 25th this season, already causing rainfall and interruptions to recovery efforts after Wilma and Dennis. This 25th Tropical Storm, "Alpha", is located about 210 Miles (335 km) west-southwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Alpha is expected to continue producing heavy rainfall.

International Response

19. In view of the threat that Wilma still represents to Cuba, the Office of the Resident Coordinator in Havana continues to closely monitor the situation to guarantee Staff and office safety as well as to share information to its development partners. All external missions to Cuba remain suspended until further notice, and all internal missions continue to be postponed.

20. The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has deployed two disaster management specialists from its Pan American Disaster Relief Unit (PADRU) to Mexico to provide support to the Mexican Red Cross relief department in carrying out a field assessment as soon as possible.

21. OCHA is in close contact with the United Nations Resident Coordinator's Offices in Cuba and Mexico, and will revert with further information as it becomes available.

22. For further information, please refer to the Website of the National Hurricane Service in Miami at www.nhc.noaa.gov, and www.solar.ifa.hawaii.edu/Tropical/Gif/atl.latest.gif.

23. This situation report, together with further information on other ongoing emergencies is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int


Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34


Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only:


Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:



Mr. Ricardo Mena


E-mail: menar@un.org, direct Tel. +41- 22- 917-1455

Mr. Dusan Zupka


E-mail: zupka@un.org, direct Tel. +41-22-917 1645



Press contact:
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs
direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653

(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker
direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26

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