Mexico: Hurricane Jimena DREF Operation No. MDRMX003

Situation Report
Originally published
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GLIDE TC-2009-000167-MEX

The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

CHF 331,705 (USD 319,632 or EUR 219,302) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Mexican Red Cross (MRC) in delivering immediate assistance to some 3,000 families. This operation is expected to be implemented over three months, and will therefore be completed by 14 December 2009; a Final Report will be made available by 14 March 2010 (three months after the end of the operation). Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

Summary: On 3 September 2009, Hurricane Jimena hit the coast of Baja California, Mexico as a category two hurricane. The storm caused infrastructural damages to homes, businesses, electricity, water and also affected the transportation sector. This DREF allocation will provide the Mexican Red Cross with essential relief items for immediate distribution and re-positioning of stocks.

Several Partner National Societies are interested in providing assistance to this DREF operation.

The situation

Hurricane Jimena made landfall on 3 September 2009 on the coast of Baja California in Mexico as a category two hurricane. The storm lasted for 80 hours over the area, causing major damages to homes and businesses located in the small cities along the coastline. The rain and heavy winds damaged rooftops while water levels of the Mulege River rose by 10 metres sweeping up everything in its way. Forty five per cent of the homes in CD Constitucion, Puerto Lopez Mateos, Magadalena and Puerto Alcatraz, amongst other cities sustained roof top damages. The state government is procuring zinc sheets and will supply 10 sheets per family.

Hurricnae Jimena generated 711 ml of rain in Guaymas and 360 ml in Empalme, both cities in the state of Sonora. The main road located between San Jose del Cabo and Tijuana is affected due to several creeks that overflowed. The airports in los Cabos, La Paz and Loreto which were temporarily closed are now functioning normally and did not sustain damages. Several ports were also temporarily closed and are currently operating. The major sectors affected by Jimena were the electric and water systems, especially in Santa Rosalia, which remains without safe drinking water. The municipal government has supplied portable water units, but these are insufficient for the entire population. 70 per cent of the electricity network between the cities of Constitución and Santa Rosalia was affected due to damaged power lines and conduction towers. There are still electricity shortages at night. The MRC local branches in CD Constitucion and Santa Rosalia sustained infrastructural damages. Preliminary reports indicate that Jimena caused over USD 37,544,866 in damages.

The most affected municipality is Mulege, located in the northern region of the state of Baja California. The second most affected municipality is Santa Rosalia City, the capital of the state of Baja California. A total of 72,000 people have been affected, 4 have been reported dead and 2,500 people are in temporary shelters due to the effects of Hurricane Jimena.

Due to the distance between the affected cities, CD Constitucion and Santa Rosalia (approximately 400 kilometres), Mexican Red Cross assessment teams had difficulty in carrying out assessments due to the vast distances and level of damages caused by the hurricane. Several ranches in these cities could only receive assistance through helicopters from the Marine Secretary.

School classes were suspended in Guaymas and Empalme. The Federal government through the local State authorities of the affected population has been coordinating activities with the Mexican army, the National Electricity Commission and the National Water Commission.

Coordination and partnerships

Since the onset of the emergency, the Federal government activated the Mexican army Contingency Plan to assist the civil population. The Health Ministry, National Water Commission, the Federal Electricity Commission and the Social Development Secretary have also been coordinating with the MRC response actions. The MRC assessment personnel have been coordinating with state authorities to facilitate the distributions in the affected areas.

The MRC has been in constant communication with the International Federation's Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) and the Regional Representation for Central America and Mexico.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

The Mexican Red Cross established a support unit to carry out the emergency operations. Branches in the state of Baja California Sur deployed 35 vehicles, and 16 rescue units were also mobilized. 170 volunteers have been involved in emergency response.

A National Intervention Team was deployed from the National Society headquarters and is currently in the field, coordinating with the branches to provide support. The Mexican Red Cross's National Relief Coordinator prioritized the evacuation of people in high risk zones.

Along with the local authorities, the Mexican Red Cross is maintaining communication with the International Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit and the Regional Representation for Central America and Mexico in order to coordinate the implementation of the plan of action within this DREF operation. The Mexican Red Cross has also maintained constant communication with Partner National Societies (PNS) and other international organizations.

The local MRC branches in Sonora, Baja California South and Baja California North with the MRC National Rapid Response Unit (Unidad Nacional de Intervencion Rapida - UNIR) are working in the affected areas performing several relief activities. The MRC has been focusing on the distribution of humanitarian aid and, to date, 30 tons of relief items have been distributed by the MRC including food parcels, hygiene kits, children's kits, cleaning kits, chlorine, kitchen kits and school kits. Thirty damage and needs assessment experts from the three affected states have been mobilized to carry out a detailed assessment.

The needs

Beneficiary selection

Hurricane Jimena deeply affected the population's homes due to flood waters. Some families lost all their belongings and their homes have been severely damaged by mudslides. The main needs identified by the MRC are cleaning kits, kitchen kits, hygiene kits, children's kits, mosquito nets and safe drinking water.

The proposed operation

The MRC plan of action aims to assist 3,000 families with essential relief items to assist with the cleaning of homes and the replenishment of basic household items. In addition, the affected families will receive relief items including: hygiene kits, cleaning kits and mosquito nets. The DREF allocation will also cover distribution and monitoring costs, mobilization and per diem of MRC volunteers assisting in the distributions. Moreover, a Regional Intervention Team (RIT) member has been budgeted to provide support if the National Society requires it. The operation will also cover one operations coordinator and a member of staff working in disaster risk reduction from the National Society working in the operation.