Cuba: Hurricane Season 2008 Emergency Appeal No. MDRCU0001 Operations Update No. 2


GLIDE No. TC-2008-000143

Period covered by this Operations Update: 25 September to 23 October 2008.

Appeal target: CHF 9,604,366 (USD 8,811,345 or EUR 6,156,645).

Appeal coverage: 56%

Appeal history:

- This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on a preliminary basis on 8 September 2008 for CHF 6,417,524 (USD 5,834,112 or EUR 3,973,699) for nine months to assist 40,000 beneficiaries.

- The Emergency Appeal was revised on 25 September, 2008 for CHF 10,106,348 (USD 9,187,600 or EUR 6,257,800) to assist 60,000 beneficiaries for nine months.

- CHF 150,000 was initially allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the National Society in Cuba in starting their early damage and needs assessments caused by Hurricane Gustav.

- This Operations Update no.2 includes a revised budget of CHF 9,604,366 (USD 8,811,345 or EUR 6,156,645) to assist 60,000 beneficiaries for nine months.


Hurricane Gustav hit the island of Cuba on 31 August 2008 with heavy winds and rain causing flooding throughout the island. Gustav, considered to be the worst storm to strike Cuba in 50 years, left thousands of people affected. Just as the Cuban Red Cross (CRC) was responding to this emergency, hurricane Ike ravaged the island as a category three storm. Ike entered through Punta Lucrecia on 7 September and crossed the island as a category one hurricane causing additional widespread damage. Based on the situation, this second Operations Update is focused on providing up to date information on the support and activities carried out by the Cuban Red Cross and the International Federation. This Emergency Appeal places an emphasis on providing support to deliver appropriate and timely response, assistance and relief through the provision of nonfood relief items, shelter, water and sanitation, and capacity building, with a view of contributing to reduce disaster risk.

This operation is expected to be implemented over nine months, and will therefore be completed by 8 June 2009; a Final Report will be made available by 8 September 2009 (three months after the end of the operation).

The situation

Considered the most devastating hurricane to strike Cuba in the past 50 years, Gustav hit the island on the night of 30 August 2008. After moving west parallel, to the Cuban territory; Gustav struck the Isle of Youth (Isla de la Juventud) as a category four hurricane. Huge five meter waves washed over the isle's territory and penetrated inland between two and seven km. Sustained winds were 220 km per hour. Subsequently, Gustav arrived in the province of Pinar del Rio with winds reaching up to 340 km per hour, a record for Cuba.

The Isle of Youth was left completely devastated, affecting the entire population of approximately 87,000 people. No infrastructure was left undamaged including hospitals, houses and schools. Basic services such as electricity and communications were interrupted. 20,745 dwellings are severely damaged impacting 95% of the population. The Isle of Youth was highly urbanized with 84 percent of the inhabitants living in urban areas.

In the province of Pinar del Rio more than 60 percent of the territory was directly affected by the hurricane. The municipalities of Los Palacios, La Palma, Bahía Honda, La Herradura, San Cristóbal, Viñales, Consolación del Sur and Candelaria sustained the burden of the damages. Roughly 90,000 houses, mainly in the urban areas were damaged affecting an estimate of 360,000 people, representing 49.2 percent of the total population of the province.

Regarding the agricultural sector, Pinar del Rio is the second most productive province in the country after Havana, producing 10 percent of the national production within this sector. Damages to the agricultural sector in Pinar del Rio, particularly urban agriculture, will impact negatively the food security of the local and national population.

The electricity system was completely destroyed and in the Isle of Youth the system was severely damaged. In Pinar del Rio public service buildings such as hospitals and schools sustained damages, affecting especially the population's possibility of preparation, storage and transportation of food. This will no doubt further impact the nutritional status of the population.

After eight days the Cuban territory was once again hit by a storm. hurricane Ike made landfall as a category 3 hurricane near Cabo Lucrecia, in the province of Holguin on 7 September. The most affected territories are the eastern provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas, Camag=FCey and Guantanamo, although all territories in the country were directly or indirectly impacted by the hurricane. An initial evaluation, made by national officials, estimated that the economic losses due to both hurricanes add up to USD five billion.

So far, 328,114 additional houses have been reported to be affected by Ike, of which 42,683 have collapsed completely. As a result, approximately 1.3 million people lost their homes, almost ten percent of Cuba's entire population. In terms of housing the most affected provinces are Holguin and Las Tunas.

Approximately 2.7 million people were evacuated due to Ike. 500,000 people were relocated to shelters while the rest went to homes of neighbours and family. Out of the 2,200 governmental shelters, 1,200 are schools. 480 of the schools used as shelters were also damaged.

Serious damages were reported in banana, coffee, yucca, corn and other plantations, adding up to approximately 491,000 tonnes of food crops lost. Over half a million poultry were lost, 205 green houses and the majority of the semi protected cultivations were also destroyed. Not only has the food production system suffered great losses, but also 49,000 tons of stored food were ruined as numerous warehouses were damaged; 1,111 of these in Holguin alone. This raises the concern of inadequate food reserves in the immediate future, which would affect food security for the population.