Haiti + 6 more

Caribbean Hurricane Season OCHA Situation Report No. 6

Attachments

This situation report is based on information received from, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) in the affected countries, the Regional Office in Panama and the National Hurricane Centre.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Tropical Storm "Hanna" is severely affecting Haiti, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, and has already claimed the lives of 25 people in Haiti. The situation in Gonaives is the most preoccupying.

- Following the passage of Hurricane "Gustav", most needs in Cuba are for power supply and repair of roofing.

- Tropical Storm Ike is also expected to follow the same path as "Hanna".

SITUATION

1. On August 25th, a tropical depression in the Caribbean strengthened into Tropical Storm "Gustav", and on August 26th made landfall in Hait as a category I hurricane. On 30 August 2008, "Gustav" became a hurricane category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale and hit directly Cuba's Island of Youth and Pinar del Rio Province and continued on a course through the Gulf of Mexico aiming at the coast of the United States (Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi). "Gustav" has affected Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba and the United States and is now a tropical depression.

2. Tropical storm "Hanna", upgraded earlier to a category I hurricane, is now a tropical storm. On the forecast track, the centre of "Hanna" should be moving through or just east of the Central and Northwestern Bahamas over the next two days. Little change in strength is forecast today but "Hanna" could regain hurricane strength tomorrow or on Friday. "Hanna" is expected to produce rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with maximum isolated amounts of 12 inches over the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Eastern Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Rainfall totals of 6 to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of up to 15 inches, are possible over Hispaniola. Moderate to locally heavy rainfall is possible along the east coast of Florida by Friday morning. Coastal storm surge flooding of 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels can be expected in areas of onshore flow within the hurricane warning area.

3. Meanwhile, at 1100 am AST, the centre of tropical storm "Ike" was located about 740 miles/1190 km East-northeast of the Leeward islands. This general motion is expected to continue through Thursday followed by a turn to the West on Friday taking Ike over the open waters of the west-central Atlantic during the next days. It is too early to determine what land area might be directly affected by Ike. Tropical Storm "Josephine" is weakening over the eastern Atlantic and is about 375 miles or 605 km West of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands. A motion between the west and west-northwest is forecast during the next couple of days but weakening is expected to begin by tomorrow.

HAITI

4. Few days after being struck by hurricane "Gustav", Haiti was unexpectedly hit by tropical storm Hanna on 1 September. No previous warning had been issued as Hanna was expected to pass north of Haiti. Subsequently, the Haiti Permanent Secretariat for Disaster Risk Management (SPGRD) issued a red warning on the risk of extremely strong winds and rains and mentioned the need for preventive measures. A tropical storm warning remains in effect in Hispaniola from Port-au-Prince, Haiti northward and westward to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.

5. Heavy rains affected the North, North West, in particular the Artibonite department. Its capital, Gonaives, was hit by floods believed to be worse than during Tropical Storm "Jeanne" in 2004. In some parts of the city, water reached over 3 metres. Some 25 deaths were reported already. Rain resumed again on 3 September leading to an increase of water levels. Access for rescue teams is not yet possible. Heavy rains and wind gusts were also witnessed during the entire night of 1 September and the day of 2 September in the departments of South, South East, Grand Anse, West and Nippes, already hit by hurricane "Gustav". At least 500 people are believed to be still on the roofs in Bienac, while most fled to the hills and mountains to protect themselves from the rising water levels.

6. All northern departments are also slightly affected by hurricane "Hanna". Floods have been reported in Port-de-Paix notably due to the Trois-Rivières river. The airport is reportedly under water, while access to the helipad is hindered due to flooding. Many homes were flooded and the population is requesting to be evacuated, notably from communities and communes such as Coteaux, Cavaillon and Camp Perrin. Heavy rains which led to the flooding of river Orangers were reported in Jacmel. The zones most at risk are Siloé, Portail la Gosseline, Bas des Orangers and St Anne, already flooded by hurricane "Gustav". If populations are required to stay longer in temporary shelters, they will require more assistance particularly, food, water and hygiene kits.In Grand Anse Department, heavy rains since September have also resulted in flooding, notably in Gebeau and Carrefour Bac. Some 408 people are in a shelter and are in need of relief supplies. The North West and Centre were also affected but to a much more limited extent.

7. All of Haiti's 10 departments have now suffered severe flooding. Compounded with the impact of Gustav, initial estimates of the Direction de la Protection Civile (DPC) indicate that some 153,000 families ( or 650,000 people) might be affected across the country. It is also expected that some 5,000 to 6,000 people need to be immediately evacuated from affected zones. Heavy rain continues in many parts of the country. Continuous raining and strong winds impeded the access by air to the most affected regions and the provision of much-needed assistance. Attempts to reach affected areas by land and sea are under way but significantly hampered by the weather. This situation is critical as the country is still dealing with the effects of hurricane Gustav. According to the national Civilian Protection Unit (DPC), hurricane Gustav claimed the lives of 79 persons, 7 persons remain missing and 35 injured. Some 3,307 houses were destroyed and 11,827 were damaged. Reports say that at least 25 people have been killed so far in Haiti by Tropical Storm Hanna and the number is likely to increase following the evaluation missions which are being prepared.

8. The Minister of Interior, as well as the outgoing and incoming Prime Ministers, left to the most affected region of Gonaives but could not reach the city. Under the leadership of the DSRSG/RC/HC, existing sectoral coordination mechanisms of the UNCT and agencies are working on the development of response plans. Sectorial coordination meetings on health, WatSan, food assistance and protection, shelter and non-food items took place. Participants agreed that humanitarian response should focus on Search and Rescue efforts. An UNDAC team is expected in the country on 4 September, to support the assessment and coordination activities of the impact "Hanna" and the resulting humanitarian needs. An UNDAC member is already working with humanitarian partners and an OSOCC was provisionally established inside OCHA premises. OCHA ROLAC has also deployed its regional Disaster Response Advisor. An application for the CERF and a Flash Appeal are being prepared.

9. UN agency and NGO capacity to respond has already been stretched by hurricane "Gustav" considering that most pre-positioned emergency relief items were already distributed to affected populations in the South and South West departments. There is an urgent need for the replenishment of relief supplies. UNICEF and WFP bought some 60,000 bottles of water and 7 tons of high energy biscuits, ready to be distributed immediately to the victims of "Hanna". In response to hurricane "Gustav", WFP distributed a total of 114,000 tons of humanitarian assistance for approximately 115,000 people since 26 August. IOM has distributed some 3,000 kitchen kits and 3,000 hygiene kits and ordered some 10,000 kitchen and hygiene kits as well as plastic sheeting destined to the emergency response to "Hanna". The World Bank will deploy assessment teams - when conditions are conducive, focusing on the rehabilitation of roads and bridges.

10. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is assisting local authorities in rescue and relief efforts in the northern city of Gonaives. MINUSTAH is assessing the safety of roads and bridges in the wake of the storm, as part of the technical and logistical assistance the mission is providing to authorities. As soon as meteorological conditions allow a helicopter will be dispatched to assist the evacuations.

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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