What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, February 26

A flooded road in the village of Ruishton in Somerset, England, Feb. 26, 2024. (Photo credit: Travel Somerset via X)

We know all too well that disaster can strike anytime, anywhere in the world. Some disasters make headlines; others do not. Here at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), we monitor the status of disasters worldwide and compile a list of the ones we’re tracking weekly, along with relevant disaster-related media coverage.

Here’s what we’re watching for the week of Feb. 26, 2024.

New or Emerging Disasters

Heavy rainfall – France: Storm Louis made landfall over France on Thursday, Feb. 22, causing one death and injuring 11. Over 90,000 homes were plunged into darkness across large parts of the northwest due to power outages. According to the Interdepartmental Crisis Management Operational Centre, as of Feb. 23, approximately 3,000 people were evacuated in the Rosny-sous-Bois municipality due to severe weather-related incidents.

More rainfall is expected over western France in the next few days.

Flooding – Brazil: Rio Grande Do Sul and Rio de Janeiro have seen heavy rainfall since Feb. 21. While the state capital saw more than 42 mm (1.7 inches) of rain, communities outside the capital experienced the most damage. At least eight people died due to landslides and floods, while 550 were displaced across several municipalities. Local media found residents working as rescue teams to save lives in the immediate aftermath of landslides.

Within 24 hours, the state fire services carried out more than 137 interventions and rescue efforts. However, firefighters and police have not yet been able to reach some hard-hit areas.

Flooding – United Kingdom: Britain is on track to have its wettest February in 258 years. On the southern coast, 56 flood warnings and 154 possible flood alerts are still active due to heavy rainfall across the south of England and Worcestershire.

In addition to flood warnings, wind warnings were issued near the southern coast, driven by low pressure crossing northern France. Gusts may reach upwards of 60 to 70 miles per hour (96 to 113 kilometers per hour).

Several schools were closed in southern England due to rising flood levels, road conditions and public transport disruptions. The Met Office, the country’s national meteorological service, also warned of injuries and danger to life from flying debris.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Complex Humanitarian Emergency – Myanmar: The escalation in fighting since October 2023 has forced an estimated 628,000 people to flee, according to the United Nations.

A new conscription law has sparked fear in many young people, causing an exodus of young talent. Under the new law, all men ages 18 to 35 and women ages 18 to 27 will be required to serve for up to two years under military command, while specialists like doctors up to age 45 must serve for three years.

Many people are looking for ways to escape despite the risk of three to five years imprisonment for evading conscription. Over 7,000 Myanmar nationals applied for visas to Thailand in a matter of weeks. Two women died while rushing to secure an early place in line for passports.

Aid workers have predicted that the new law may also cause increased human trafficking and related crimes.

Flooding – Libya: On September 2023, Storm Daniel struck eastern Libya. The intense Mediterranean cyclone caused the loss of more than 11,300 lives and a substantial economic toll. The World Bank estimated damages and losses at approximately $1.8 billion. The report highlighted the need to build more resilient homes and public infrastructure (water and transportation) during the post-disaster recovery process.

As aid and development agencies initiate recovery initiatives, a recent assessment by UNICEF and local partners in December 2023 found that 67% of children have had negative behavioral changes since the floods. An estimated 48% of children are also in dire need of mental health and psychosocial support. The displacement of families and disruption in education and learning have primarily driven the negative impact on children.

For more, see our 2023 Libya Floods disaster profile.

In addition to the disasters listed above, we actively monitor the following disasters or humanitarian emergencies. For more information, see the relevant disaster profiles, which are updated regularly.

U.S. Midwest Low Attention Disasters

The Midwest is regularly faced with low-attention disasters that affect people across the region. CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund (ERF) effectively funds efforts that catalyze equitable disaster recovery.

These are some of the latest disasters and related news the ERF team is monitoring:

  • Arkansas has extended its emergency housing program for victims of the devastating March 2023 tornadoes, providing a beacon of hope and aiding the recovery process. The program includes waivers for highway load requirements to expedite FEMA housing delivery, ensuring safe, temporary housing for those in need.
  • Rain and winds of more than 40 miles per hour (65 kilometers) struck east North Dakota over the Christmas holiday in 2023. Hailing it as the worst ice storm since 1997, the White House approved Governor Doug Burgam’s request for a presidential major disaster declaration to unlock FEMA public assistance and repair more than $11.5 million in damaged infrastructure.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Nigeria 

Many places worldwide are experiencing emergencies caused by conflict, climate change, drought, famine, economic challenges and other conditions that combine to create a complex humanitarian emergency (CHE). CDP maintains complete profiles on several CHEs, and what CDP considers Level 1 CHEs are profiled in this weekly blog post and tracked.

Nigeria has seen a steady increase in the number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) since October 2023. The 43 reported incidents killed 65 people, including six children, and injured 55 others. January 2024 had the highest number of IED-related incidents in the past two years.

In the ethnically and religiously diverse northwest and central regions of Nigeria, continued intercommunal conflict between Muslim nomadic cattle herders and Christian farmer communities has worsened over the last few years. One of the deadliest string of attacks occurred in December 2023 when armed groups of people targeted more than 20 communities and killed 140 people. Heightened tension and conflict have been building up between the two groups due to water scarcity and access to land.

Conflict is also one of the primary drivers for rising food prices and soaring inflation. The rapidly increasing cost of living has led thousands to protest and demand urgent interventions to address the rising cost. In the capital, Lagos, state officials imposed new measures such as three-day workdays and reduced transport fees to alleviate the impact of inflation. In 2024, Nigeria is expected to see 26.5 million people grapple with high levels of food insecurity.

On Feb. 12, due to widespread violence and insecurity, the national and state governments agreed, for the first time, to create a state police force to support the federal police.

Despite recent progress, rights groups like Amnesty said the government of Prime Minister Bola Tinubu’s failure “to protect the people of Nigeria is gradually becoming the norm.”

Upcoming webinar

March 14: From pets to heroes: The role of animals in disaster response and recovery

What We’re Reading

  • Disasters forced 2.5 million Americans from their homes last year – The New York Times: Explore the latest figures from U.S Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey on displacement from 28 weather-related disasters in 2023. Hurricanes, floods and fires caused the most displacement, with Black people and Latinos being disproportionately affected.
  • How traditional Hawaiian food is playing a key role in wildfire recovery – The Guardian: As residents of Maui recover from the deadly 2023 wildfires and face food insecurity, local groups are ensuring survivors have access to healthy, sustainably grown food. This strategy is a way to fight food insecurity and stop people from moving away due to unemployment and the high cost of housing.
  • In Chile, huge wildfires have killed at least 131 people – but one village was almost untouched – The Conversation: Human health risks due to extreme weather shocks and incidents can be reduced by adequate and well-prepared response plans. A community-led project helped prepare residents in Villa Botania to manage wastes and control weeds and vegetation to reduce fire hazards.
  • Moving from crisis response to crisis prevention in U.S. mental health systems – Stat: A coalition of community organizers is taking the non-police crisis response systems a step further by calling for a public health model of community wellness to prevent mental health crises from happening.
  • What’s stopping USAID from localizing? – Devex: Two years ago, USAID aimed to spend 25% of eligible funding at a local level to transfer more power to local communities that receive aid by 2025. Slow progress may be due to staffing crises, goals that don’t align with local entities, congressional budget regulations, etc.

Do you miss the movie theaters? You might just catch a surprise uninvited guest.

Tenzin Kyizom

Tenzin Kyizom

Strategy, Innovation and Special Projects Content Development Associate