Panama: Floods - DREF Final Report n° MDRPA012


A. Situation Analysis

Description of the situation

Beginning on 12 November 2016, a tropical wave formed in the south-western Caribbean Sea near Panama’s coast. Tropical Depression Otto formed in the early morning hours of Monday, 21 November 2016 in the southern Caribbean and later it became a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale on Tuesday, with sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h) according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Hurricane Centre. That same Tuesday, 22 November, Panama’s President placed the country under alert to prepare all its national response organizations for the emergency, and schools were closed by presidential decree throughout Panama on Wednesday, 23 November 2016; however, they reopened the following day, except for some schools in the provinces of Colon and Bocas del Toro that were damaged by the storm. The flooding caused by Hurricane Otto resulted in three deaths and at least four disappearances in Panama. Severe flooding and landslides were reported in the provinces of Panama, Panama Oeste, Bocas del Toro, Colon, Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro, damaging houses and leading to blocked and collapsed roads.

The National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC for its acronym in Spanish) monitored all the areas that were affected by the flooding through its national emergency operations centre (NEOC). Moreover, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) provided daily health promotion and vector control programming throughout the country during the emergency.

Summary of current response The Red Cross Society of Panama deployed three volunteers from its headquarters to the district of Baru, in the province of Chiriquí, to perform assessments and conduct the first distributions in the affected areas. This was done jointly with volunteers from Barú, Santiago and David, who distributed 120 hygiene kits to families in Villa del Carmen in Barú.

An emergency operations centre (EOC) was set up at RCSP’s facilities to coordinate the response actions in the affected areas, and the RCSP established a collection centre at its headquarters, where it received support from around 80 volunteers.