What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, July 18

July 2022 Flooding in Buchanan County, Virginia. Source: VA State Police

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 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 July 18, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Flooding – Virginia: Severe flooding in southwestern Virginia on July 12 caused significant damage and led to 44 missing person reports. By July 14, authorities confirmed that all missing persons had been found safe. Virginia Governor Glenn Younkin declared a state of emergency on July 13. Early assessments determined that 22 homes and three businesses were destroyed, with 77 more homes and 12 more businesses sustaining damage.

Flooding – Colorado: Flash flooding killed two people in Larimer County, Colorado, on July 15 when their camping trailer was swept away. The flooding damaged at least one home and forced road closures. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued flash flooding warnings for areas of the county that were part of the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire, the largest fire in the state’s history. In burn areas where there is often no vegetation to absorb water, heavy rainfall slides down the mountainside quickly.

Flooding – Gujarat, India: Heavy rain has drenched the Indian state of Gujarat since July 10, with many parts of the state receiving unusually high rainfall. Parts of Gujarat are vulnerable to floods because major rivers pass through flat terrain before reaching the sea, increasing disaster risk and exposure. As of July 15, the death toll reached 54 and more than 14,000 people remained in temporary shelters. The Purna and Ambika rivers overflowed at three places, and the government closed four national highways in the state.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Flooding – Afghanistan: The rate of flash flooding in Afghanistan has increased in the past week. Since July 5, flash floods have resulted in the deaths of 39 people across five provinces in Afghanistan’s east, south, southeast and central regions. The flooding has damaged or destroyed around 2,900 houses, a tenfold increase since the last reporting period. In addition to housing damages, the flooding has damaged and disrupted civilian infrastructure, agricultural lands and livelihoods. Heavy rain is expected again this week in the southeastern and eastern regions, which are still reeling from the impact of the June 22 earthquake.

Wildfires and Heatwave – Spain: On July 18, Spain faced its eighth day of an intense heatwave, which has caused more than 510 heat-related deaths. Nearly the entire country faces an extreme fire risk, with more than 173,000 acres (70,000 hectares) burned this year, the worst year of the last decade. The wildfires resulted in the deaths of at least two people in Spain, including one firefighter. The heatwave is spreading north, with the United Kingdom expecting its hottest day on record this week.

Monkeypox – Global: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 1,814 cases in the U.S. As of June 27, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there were 3,413 reported cases from 50 countries since January. Nearly all the cases have been reported since May, and 86% of confirmed cases are from the WHO European Region. Other sources show even higher numbers of global cases. Health officials warn the virus should be taken seriously, and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the window for containing the virus probably has closed.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of July 12, there have been more than 9.1 million border crossings from Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As of July 13, United Nations (UN) agencies and partners have reached more than 10.3 million people with life-saving assistance. At least 43 civilians were killed due to a strike on Chasiv Yar in Donbas, the second deadliest single attack since the start of the war. The increasing use of rockets against civilians impacts the psychological wellbeing of the population. People in heavily affected east and south areas are forced to survive with limited access to essential services, including water and electricity.

According to Candid, 1,002 grants worth $1,305,824,562 have been granted so far, with an additional 179 pledges worth $703,738,080. Funders can share their grants data with them by emailing egrants@candid.org.

For more, see the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis disaster profile and Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund.

Worldwide – Coronavirus: 

Key facts as of July 18:

  • Worldwide, cases have surpassed 567 million.
  • There have been more than 539 million recoveries and more than 6.3 million deaths.
  • The highest number of cases are in the U.S. (91.2 million), followed by India (43.7 million), Brazil (33.3 million) and France (33 million).
  • Worldwide, 66.8% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number drops to only 19.4% in low-income countries.

Other notable news:

  • According to a new analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus pandemic caused a surge in superbug infections and deaths in U.S. hospitals, “reversing years of progress fighting one of the gravest public health challenges in modern medicine.”

For more, see the COVID-19 Coronavirus disaster profile.

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 the ERF team is monitoring:

  • Severe storms in Golden Valley and Billings counties in North Dakota on July 10 caused significant damage. Meteorologists at the NWS estimated winds reach 120 miles per hour, an uncommon phenomenon for the state.
  • Freeborn County, Minnesota, made a disaster declaration following severe flash flooding that damaged property and roadways. The estimated cost of the damages on county and township roadways alone is $150,000.
  • A dust storm caused a 21-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 in Big Horn County, Montana, on July 15. The pileup led to the deaths of six people, including two children. Witnesses described visibility as poor and similar to wearing sepia-colored glasses.
  • Severe storms in Lodge Pole, Minnesota, caused flooding the first week of July. The Fort Belknap Indian Community’s Disaster and Emergency Services Department supports cleanup efforts and recommends that residents not use well water and septic systems.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Chad

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 and tracked.

Chad is enduring a prolonged humanitarian crisis due to growing insecurity in the country and region, and socioeconomic, health and climate-related challenges in the context of political transition.

For the third consecutive year, the Sahel countries, which include Chad, are facing a major food and nutrition crisis. Dry spells, lower than typical supplies of food products, diminishing household incomes, and price increases for essential food items all contribute to food insecurity. The situation would be worse without current humanitarian assistance, demonstrating the importance of timely and well-funded programs.

In their analysis of humanitarian access globally in July, ACAPS found that the humanitarian access situation deteriorated in Chad. Ongoing insecurity, restriction of movement in the country and obstruction of access to services and assistance are contributing factors.

In addition to security threats from Boko Haram and conflict between farmers and pastoralists in parts of the country, new threats to stability are emerging. Artisanal gold mining has experienced a boom in the Sahara and Sahel, fueling conflict. Following deadly clashes between gold miners in northern Chad, thousands of people are believed to need humanitarian assistance.

There are 6.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance across the country, including three million children. The nutritional situation is of particular concern. As of July 5, only 21% of the country’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan had been funded. The food security cluster has a funding gap of $214 million.

What We’re Reading

  • Sub-Saharan Africa Facing Severe Food Shortage – Voice of America: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said hundreds of millions of people on the continent are going hungry, and the situation is urgent. The ICRC regional director for Africa, Patrick Youssef, warns many lives will be lost without a concerted effort by all actors.
  • Key takeaways from the latest humanitarian funding data The New Humanitarian: Development Initiatives’ Global Humanitarian Assistance report, an annual look at aid financing, was released this week and highlights that the money is not keeping up with the needs. Funding grew by only 2.6% between 2018 and 2021, far lower than the 10% annual growth seen in years before that period. Also, only 1.2% of international humanitarian assistance in 2021 went directly to local organizations, a five-year low.
  • NGOs voice fears for Syrians over limited UN aid mandate – Al Jazeera: “While there is temporary relief for millions of displaced Syrians as a crucial UN aid operation from Turkey to northwest Syria has resumed, aid workers and rights groups have warned that the timeframe will put people at risk of hunger, homelessness, and disease during the coldest months of the year.”
  • UK heatwave: Temperatures rising rapidly as over 40C predicted – BBC: The United Kingdom could have its hottest day on record this week, with temperatures forecast to hit up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius). The Met Office issued a red extreme heat warning on Monday and Tuesday, the first time the warning has been issued since the system was introduced last year. The warning means “widespread impacts on people and infrastructure” are expected.
  • Report: Philanthropy Can Help Protect Against Climate Change – U.S. News: A new report from Candid found that only about 2% of global giving goes to climate change mitigation. Less than 4% of that is for climate justice and equity-oriented work. Philanthropy “could help ease the damage from climate change by donating more money to address global warming and the communities most at risk from it.”
  • Culture Aid NOLA Is Rethinking Disaster Response – ANTIGRAVITY: Culture Aid NOLA, the no-barrier food resource of New Orleans, hosted their first July Supply hurricane preparedness event on July 16. Supported by a $50,000 grant from CDP, the event aimed to put resources into the hands of 2,000 New Orleans families before a disaster strikes. This proactive rather than reactive approach is built on trust and communities taking care of each other.

Images released last week from the James Webb Space Telescope are genuinely out of this world. Compared to images from the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb’s images are much clearer and more detailed

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