Cuba: Hurricane Irma - Emergency Appeal (MDRCU004)

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This emergency appeal seeks a total of 7,056,160 Swiss francs on a preliminary basis to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Cuban Red Cross (CRC) to deliver assistance and support to some 25,000 people for 12 months. The operation focuses on the following sectors: water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH), shelter (including non-food items), restoring family links (RFL) and National Society capacity building. The planned response reflects the current situation and information available at this point in the evolving operation, and will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments.
The complete Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) will be made available shortly.

The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date

30 August 2017: Irma is formed as a tropical wave near the Cape Verde Islands. It is the ninth named storm, the fourth hurricane and the second most important hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2017.

6 September 2017: The IFRC Regional Communications Manager is deployed to Cuba to support the CRC.

9 September 2017: Hurricane Irma, Category 5, strikes Cuba with hurricane winds, heavy rains and high waves, affecting the centre and north of the island.

13 September 2017: The IFRC Surge Capacity is deployed to Cuba – Head of Country Cluster Office for the Latin Caribbean, and the Disaster Management / Emergency Shelter Coordinator.

15 September 2017: The IFRC issues Emergency Appeal for 7,056,160 Swiss francs for 25,000 people for 12 months.

The operational strategy


Hurricane Irma impacted Cuba from the morning of 8 September to the afternoon of Sunday 10 To date, ten deaths are reported in the areas of Havana, Matanzas, Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila. At least 13 of the country's 15 provinces were directly affected where 10.1 million people live (89 per cent of Cuba's population). The President of Cuba described the damage as severe, particularly in the housing, electricity, water distribution, agriculture and tourism sectors. In addition, 1,400 educational facilities across the country have been damaged. However, authorities are already in the process of identifying alternative solutions to resume school classes this week if possible2 . Cuba decreed a recovery phase for the provinces that were in the phase of alert. Local teams from the least affected provinces have joined the work of rehabilitating basic services for the population and for the operation of the main state sectors.
The Government of Cuba is strongly advocating for hygiene and sanitary measures to prevent outbreaks of disease.
Since Irma was declared as a hurricane, the CRC prepared its national teams to respond to the situation. On 6 September 2017, more than 7,000 volunteers were deployed to support state agencies.
More than 877 CRC volunteers supported the evacuation of some 5,000 people in the provinces of Guantánamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila and Villa Clara.
Also, the CRC has installed 117 offices in the provinces affected by the hurricane to support the RFL activities through its extensive network of amateur radio volunteers. Each office has 3 to 4 volunteers who help to reestablish and maintain contact between family members separated by the disaster.
In the collective centres, the CRC is providing first aid, psychosocial support and assisting with some activities to register affected people and distribute humanitarian assistance. In addition, the CRC is supporting communities and collective centres with hygienic and sanitary measures. Furthermore, CRC volunteers are supporting the local authorities working at the provincial, municipal and community levels. September with strong winds, rains and coastal flooding affecting central and northern Cuba. More than two million people were sheltered in collective centres and host families1 . There have been sea surges in many communities and waves of between six and eight metres have been reported.