The Ironworks Fire caused damage in the bosque near Belen on Thursday. Firefighting crews were still dealing with hot spots Friday. (Julia Dendinger/Valencia County News-Bulletin)

We know all too well that disaster can strike at any time, in any place in the world. Some disasters make headlines; others do not. Here at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, we keep an eye on status of disasters worldwide and compile a list of the ones we’re tracking weekly, along with relevant disaster-related media coverage.

To stay informed, we invite you to check back every Tuesday for updates on new, ongoing and past disasters. Listed below is information about what we are monitoring the week of March 11.

New or Emerging Disasters We’re Watching

Ethiopia – Plane Crash: A plane crash is rarely a disaster in the truest sense of the word. It can be classified as an emergency management incident, an accident, an act of terrorism . . . but a plane crash does not usually meet the scale of a disaster (an event that exceeds the capacity of local jurisdictions or designated authorities to respond). There are exceptions of course: the Tenerife-North Airport (formerly Los Rodeos) crash in 1977, the planes involved in 9/11 and the resulting cancellation of flights, Pan Am 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 five years ago this past weekend.

But I want to call out last week’s incident with the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi, Kenya. While the accident was significant because of the number of victims – 157, representing 35 nationalities – it is particularly important for the international aid community. The United Nations (UN) lost 22 staffers; that route is nicknamed the “UN Shuttle” because of how many UN employees regularly take the flight. The World Food Programme, which is based in Rome and provides food assistance to millions around the world, lost seven employees. Other passengers were on the way to the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi or a UNESCO conference on safeguarding underwater cultural heritage. Four Ethiopian citizens working for Catholic Relief Services were killed while on their way to a training in Nairobi. A child protection in emergencies technical adviser with Save the Children; an employee of the World Bank; and a founder of the International Committee for the Development of Peoples were among those killed.

North Korea – Famine: The UN has warned that North Korea’s food harvest is the lowest in a decade and has warned of severe food shortages. The shortage is the result of a typhoon, floods and a prolonged heat wave. The UN has indicated that there is a “significant food gap” and 3.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, valued at $120 million. Nearly 11 million people in the country are considered undernourished. According to the UN, 1 in 5 children are stunted because of malnutrition.

Los Chavez, New Mexico – Ironworks Fire: The federal government has issued a Fire Management Assistance Declaration (FM-5281) for the Ironworks fire which began on March 7. At least three homes were lost along with a number of recreational vehicles and outbuildings. The fire started on the west side of the Rio Grande, but high winds pushed it into the bosque (a type of forest) and across the river in several spots. The fire consumed nearly 150 acres and was at approximately 50 percent containment on March 11. Evacuation orders have been lifted.

Brazil – Flash Flooding: Above average rainfall rates in Brazil has resulted in flash flooding and landslides. Some communities received 70-80 percent of the typical monthly amount on March 10, with more than seven inches in a 24-hour period. Twelve people died in the São Paulo region (four from a house collapse, one in a landslide and seven from drowning) and six were injured.

Mozambique – Flooding: Heavy rains caused flooding in three provinces in Mozambique leaving 15 people dead, 17,500 displaced and more than 100,000 affected. More rainfall is expected this weekend with 160,000 people at riskalong the Zambezi river.

Previous or Ongoing Disasters

Alabama/Southeast United States – Tornado Outbreak: Lee County, Alabama has received a federal disaster declaration (DR-4419) following the tornado outbreak in the southeast U.S. – primarily in Florida, Georgia and Alabama – on Sunday, March 3, with Lee County being hardest hit. So far, 45 applications have been approved and a total of $432,293 provided in financial assistance. Although several people were reported missing in the aftermath of the tornadoes, they have all been accounted for; the death toll remains at 23 people including 10 members of one family. Alabama Power has estimated that 116 homes were so damaged that the electrical service could not be reconnected.

In Georgia, three counties received a state declaration of emergency but have not received a federal declaration as of yet. There were 19 homes destroyed (including one apartment building), six homes with major damage and 13 homes with minor damage across seven different counties. No deaths were reported, although there were 12 non-life-threatening injuries.

The National Weather Service has been surveying damaged areas across the multi-state path of the storm. They have concluded that there were two tornadoes in one hour, less than a mile apart, in Alabama. The large EF-4 tornado began there but also wreaked havoc in Georgia. It was, at times, a mile wide, had a path of 68.8 miles and was on the ground for 1 hour and 16 minutes. The second, an EF-2, formed from a separate system (not a spin-off of the EF-4). It ran about a mile south on a parallel track with a width of three-quarters of a mile. Shout out to Chief Meteorologist Josh Johnson at WSFA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Montgomery. His team’s live coverage of the tornadoes – calm, clear and informative – is credited with saving lives.

CDP’s Alabama and Southeast Tornadoes Disaster Profile provides more information, including how to help. To support the recovery efforts, you can donate to CDP’s Disaster Recovery Fund or Google “donate to Alabama Tornado” and click “Yes, Donate” to support the Google-CDP partnership fund.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Ebola Outbreak: As of March 9, the outbreak has now reached 921 cases, 829 are confirmed and 65 suspected. There have been 582 fatalities and approximately 83,755 people have been vaccinated. Some helpful information on the history of Ebola outbreaks and case locations. See CDP Ebola Outbreak profile for regularly updated information.

Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iran – Floods: Official death toll now stands at 70 people with 10 missing, but this is expected to increase. At least 3,800 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Afghanistan and a further 500 homes in Pakistan, where 40,000 people have been affected by flooding.

What We’re Reading

  • How Federal Disaster Money Favors The Rich – NPR: “. . .an NPR investigation has found that across the country, white Americans and those with more wealth often receive more federal dollars after a disaster than do minorities and those with less wealth.”
  • Search The Thousands Of Disaster Buyouts FEMA Didn’t Want You To See – NPR:“An NPR investigation found that white communities nationwide have disproportionately received more federal buyouts after a disaster than communities of color.”
  • The Hayward Fault—Is It Due for a Repeat of the Powerful 1868 Earthquake? –USGS: The 150th anniversary of the 1868 quake [was] in 2018; scientists are convinced that the Hayward Fault has reached the point where a powerful, damaging earthquake can be expected at any time.”
  • 1500 People Will Die When “Big One” Hits Victoria, BC – CTV News videoExperts have released information about the risks if an earthquake similar to Christchurch, New Zealand, were to hit Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Managing Risk in International and Local NGO Partnerships – InterAction Report: In humanitarian emergencies where access is limited and risk is high, people’s ability to obtain vital assistance often depends on partnerships between national and international aid organizations. In recent years, driven by the Syrian conflict, significantly larger portions of international humanitarian aid have been implemented through and alongside national and local entities.  Building off InterAction’s 2016 research on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and Risk, InterAction and Humanitarian Outcomes are releasing the findings of an 18-month study that examined how risk is perceived and managed in partnerships in high-risk settings.”
  • Officer Down – CBC – The rate of suicide is extremely high amongst first responders. In this multimedia, longform story, the Fifth Estate explores suicide amongst members of the Ontario Provincial Police, the ninth largest police force in North America and second largest in Canada.