What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, March 28

Tornado damage in the town of Arabi in St. Bernard parish. (Source: Tanya Gulliver-Garcia)

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 (CDP), 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 March 28, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters
Tornadoes – U.S. South:

  • Alabama – Following severe weather on March 22, six tornadoes touched down in western Alabama. The tornadoes were rated EF-0 and EF-1 and caused damage in Baldwin, Lauderdale and Choctaw counties.
  • Louisiana – An EF-3 tornado in New Orleans, the second strongest on record for the metro area, killed one man on March 22. The tornado damaged nearly 300 buildings in St. Bernard Parish.
  • Mississippi – Up to seven small tornadoes touched down in Mississippi on March 23. One was rated an EF-2, and the others were EF-1 or EF-0. Minor damage was reported.
  • Oklahoma – A strong tornado traveled north from Texas into Oklahoma on March 21, touching down in Kingston and leaving a quarter-mile-wide damage path. Several homes near the small towns of Nida and Emet were also damaged.
  • Texas – As of March 24, 27 tornadoes were confirmed across the state following severe weather on March 21 and 22. The tornadoes ranged from EF-0 to EF-3. An EF-3 in Jacksboro (Jack County) with 140 to 150 mph winds caused severe damage.

Please see our Southern U.S. Tornadoes – Spring 2022 disaster profile for more information and how to help.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters
Wildfires – Texas: Multiple wildfires have been burning in central Texas since mid-March. The largest fire is the Eastland Complex, which includes the Walling, Wheat Field, Kidd, Oak Mott, Blowing Basin, Mangum and Cedar Mountain Fires. The Eastland Complex Fire has burned more than 54,000 acres and is 90% contained as of March 27. The town of Carbon in Eastland County was among the hardest-hit communities, with most of the small city destroyed, including at least 86 homes. Other notable fires that are 100% contained include Big L in Erath County, which burned more than 10,000 acres, and Crews Gap, located along the Runnels and Coleman County line, which burned more than 8,000 acres. Continued dry and windy conditions have led to new fires erupting across central Texas, including the Crittenburg Complex about 70 miles north of Austin that has burned more than 17,000 acres as of March 28.

Please see our 2022 North American Wildfires disaster profile for information on wildfires across the continent and how to help.

Humanitarian Crisis – Ukraine: As of March 27, more than 3.8 million refugees have left the country since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Around 10.2 million people are forcibly displaced, approximately a quarter of Ukraine’s population.

According to the President of Ukraine, Ukraine has received more than 100,000 tons of humanitarian aid from various actors over the last two weeks. Critical humanitarian needs include access to food, safe water, life-saving medicines, health services and durable shelter solutions.

Civilian causalities and attacks on non-military targets continue to increase. As of March 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 72 attacks on health care, leading to 71 deaths and 37 injuries. CDP’s response to this crisis is focused on humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among internally-displaced peoples and refugees.

According to Candid, 461 grants worth $531,633,868 have been granted so far, with an additional 104 pledges worth $517,979,550. Funders can share their grants data with them by emailing egrants@candid.org.

Please see our Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis disaster profile for more information on this complex humanitarian emergency. Visit our Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund for details on how you can help meet the humanitarian challenges from the conflict in Ukraine.

Worldwide – Coronavirus: CDP maintains a profile updated weekly focusing on how philanthropy can help. As of March 28, worldwide cases have surpassed 482 million, and globally, new cases have decreased slightly after an uptick in recent weeks with a seven-day moving average of approximately 1.49 million per day. There have been more than 416 million recoveries, and, officially, there have been over 6.1 million deaths.

Around the world, the highest number of cases are in the U.S. (81.6 million), followed by India (43 million), Brazil (29.8 million) and France (25 million). The number of daily new cases in the U.S. skyrocketed in late December and early January but have returned to much smaller numbers in the past few weeks. Meanwhile, the number of week-over-week new cases worldwide has decreased slightly to 10.47 million as of March 28, compared to the uptick seen in recent weeks. However, the number of weekly deaths continues to drop, with a 19% week-over-week decline – down to 29,281 as of March 28.

Worldwide, 64.3% of the global population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, though that number drops significantly to only 14.5% in low-income countries. Of the global number, 57.48% are considered fully vaccinated, having received the total number of doses as required by that vaccine. Portugal has one of the highest shares of people inoculated against COVID-19 (95%). China has 88.3%, Canada is at 85.8% and Brazil is at 84.4%. The U.S. has only vaccinated 76.7% of its eligible population.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
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, such as the Southern Border crisis, Venezuela Refugee Crisis and Ethiopia Tigray crisis. On March 10, CDP hosted a webinar entitled “Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Where crisis, conflict, climate and COVID-19 meet” and a recording of the webinar is available.

Somalia is experiencing a prolonged humanitarian crisis due to ongoing conflict, climate-related shocks, disease outbreaks and fragile social protection mechanisms. The INFORM Risk Index, a global risk assessment for humanitarian crises, ranks Somalia first globally, given the country’s very high levels of risk across hazards, vulnerability and coping capacity.

The Horn of Africa, including Somalia, is experiencing one of the worst La Niña-induced droughts in memory. More than 4.1 million people in Somalia, or 26% of the population, need urgent food assistance. Drought-related shortages are rising costs, and the war in Ukraine is compounding the situation as Somalia relies on imports from Russia and Ukraine for up to 90% of the country’s wheat supply.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), “The drought crisis is having devastating consequences for women and children, heightening the risk of gender-based violence (GBV), sexual exploitation and abuse and hampering children’s access to education.” This year 1.4 million children under the age of five in Somalia face acute malnutrition.

The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia calls for $1.4 billion to address the humanitarian needs. As of March 22, the total funding requirements for 2022 were only 3.8%. Without an injection of funds, aid groups are warning that hunger in the region could become a catastrophe.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants continue to attack civilian, military and government targets. On March 23, two attacks in central Somalia led to the deaths of 48 people.

What We’re Reading

  • US tsunami warning system needs an urgent overhaul, experts say – CNN: A recent report written by an advisory panel of tsunami experts says the country’s warning system is struggling with outdated technology, delayed forecasts and disjointed communication.
  • U.N. aims to give every person on Earth access to natural disaster early warning systems – PBS: “U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the project with the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization aims to make the alert systems already used by many rich countries available to the developing world.”
  • How artificial intelligence could help fight Australia’s bushfires – 9News Australia: Advanced technology developed in California will allow experts to understand better the fuels that ultimately drive fires.
  • Inclusive disaster risk management: What have we learned? – World Bank: A new report from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) takes stock of lessons from inclusive disaster risk management projects across its portfolio.
  • The disasters that never happened: how to soothe rising climate anxiety – Reuters: Actions taken that protect people before disaster strikes are largely “invisible.” Experts are pushing for more recognition of efforts to avert disasters to help the world better prepare for climate change impacts.
  • Is Ukraine’s aid bonanza coming at the expense of other crises? – The New Humanitarian: Humanitarian insiders worry that resources for Ukraine may be diverted from other crises that are receiving scant attention and remain badly underfunded – from Afghanistan to Yemen to the Horn of Africa.

Two “natural engineers,” more commonly known as beavers, have been brought back to London after a 400-year absence. The male and female beaver were temporarily nicknamed Justin Beaver and Sigourney Beaver.