Uruguay: Heavy Storm OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 25 Aug 2005
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0133
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Uruguay
Heavy Storm

This Situation Report is based on information provided by the UN Resident Coordinator in Montevideo and a report from the Departmental Emergency Coordination Centre of Uruguay's National Emergency System.

Situation

1. South and Eastern parts of Uruguay were hit yesterday by an unusual and unexpected storm with heavy rain and hurricane-force winds blowing at speeds of over 160 km per hour.

2. The powerful storm caused serious damage in the Departments of Canelones, Montevideo, San José, Colonia and Maldonado, where close to 70% of the country's population live. Seven people were killed, dozens injured and hundreds evacuated in what has been described as the nation's worst disaster in recent history.

3. Important losses have been registered, particularly in the housing sector and public infrastructure. Thousands of homes have lost their roofs and close to 1,000 families have no access to drinking water while close to 20,000 have no electricity and telephone services.

4. Some 2,000 trees were knocked down by the storm causing damages to power and telecommunications lines as well as roads, vehicles and buildings. In Montevideo, traffic has been closed in many areas of the city due to falling trees and debris.

5. Although there is still only very little information available, damages in the agricultural sector are also expected to be high. Honey production hives in the Department of Rocha have reportedly been destroyed.

National response

6. The Government has established an Emergency Committee composed by the Municipality, local Police Department, the military and the Ministry of Public Health and is trying its best to meet humanitarian needs of persons rendered homeless or those who were forced to evacuate. However, its response capacity has been stretched to the limit.

7. A damage assessment is underway and clean-up operations have begun although insufficient equipment such as chain saws is slowing down this operation. Reestablishment of public services is progressing slowly.

Priority Relief Needs

8. The UN Resident Coordinator's office in coordination with the National Emergency System has identified the following priority relief needs:

- Provision of emergency shelter (zinc and plastic sheeting)

- Care and assistance for vulnerable groups among the affected population (mattresses, blankets, sheets, hygiene kits, diapers)

- Power saws

International Relief Assistance

No request for international relief assistance has been made by the Uruguayan Government.

United Nations

9. The UN country team has been in close contact with government authorities and has been meeting to assess the situation and identify possible areas of collaboration.

10. OCHA is monitoring the situation and will revert with further information as it becomes available.

11. This Situation Report and information on ongoing emergencies is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int.

MAP: Uruguay: Heavy storm - Situation map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23/06 28
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officer:

Mr. Ricardo Mena, E-mail: menar@un.org, Direct Tel. +41-22-917 1455

Press contact:

(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.