Occupied Palestinian territory: Cold Wave January 2015 DREF n° MDRPS010 Emergency Plan of Action - Final report

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster An exceptional winter storm, namely ‘Huda’, among the strongest recorded in recent years hit the occupied Palestinian territory on January 6, 2015, bringing heavy snow, rainfall, high winds and freezing temperatures that lasted for five days.

The storm generated flooding in several areas of Palestine and temporarily displaced thousands of people, causing the death of three children and an adult thereby forcing the Palestinian authorities to declare a state of emergency.

The storm mostly affected the Bedouin communities and Gaza strip since large number of houses are made of plastic sheets or metal plates roof.

Gaza and West Bank were particularly affected, further exacerbating the already poor humanitarian situation. In Gaza strip, thousands of people remain displaced due the heavy house destruction following the recent conflict. Acute fuel and energy crisis worsened the situation as gas stations in the Gaza Strip had no fuel to provide for the people to operate their own generators and the cooking gas stations were empty as well. Furthermore, heavy flooding has also resulted in the displacement of approximately 10,000 people to temporary shelters and relatives’ homes.

In the West Bank, heavy rainfall has caused flooding and damage to homes. Electricity outages have been widespread, including 80 per cent of Ramallah City during the first day of the storm, among many other areas.

A second snow and heavy rain storm hit the West Bank and Gaza during 19- 23 February 2015. The heavy rain and snow generated floods in several parts of Palestine, affecting especially internally displaced people with scarcity of non-food items and lack of heating tools.

The Bedouin communities, as well as the areas surrounded by separation wall, have been the most affected in West Bank.

Summary of response

Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) response The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is mandated by the Palestinian Authority to provide national ambulance and pre-hospital emergency services in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and health services in the Diaspora.

Since the beginning of the emergency, on 6 January 2015, the PRCS operation rooms, branches, primary health care centres (PHCs), emergency medical services (EMS) and volunteer networks were activated to respond to the affected people as well as to cover the increasing number of emergency calls to PRCS.

Responding to the situation, PRCS undertook a rapid needs assessment and revised the vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) that were previously prepared to better respond to the crisis. After intensive consultations with the various actors in the field, and based on the immediate responses to the humanitarian calls, PRCS identified the needs of the community facing this cold wave, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The conducted needs assessment focused on two major needs:

  1. Relief and shelter – non-food items (NFIs) including: tarpaulins, tents, plastic sheets, hygiene kits, kitchen kits, mattresses, and blankets among several other items.

  2. The costs of logistics, vehicles, food and transportation of volunteers who will participate in the intervention among the various areas.

During the first emergency in January 2015, PRCS distributed relief goods that was hold as emergency stocks in its warehouses to 6,851 people (1,130 families) :
For the second emergency, 19 February 2015, the operation rooms, branches, PHC centres, EMS and volunteers’ network were activated to respond to the affected people as well as to cover the increasing emergency calls to PRCS.