What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, October 11

Florida Highway Patrols troopers deliver basic supplies to those in need after Hurricane Ian. (Source: @FHPSWFL via Twitter)

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 Oct. 11, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Cholera Outbreak – Haiti: After three years without a cholera case, Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population reported two confirmed cases in the communes of Cité Soleil and Port-au-Prince on Oct. 2. By Oct. 9, this had increased to 32 confirmed cases, 224 suspected cases, with 189 people hospitalized and 16 deaths. There is a lack of access to basic services, including health care, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in the affected areas. The ongoing fuel crisis is disrupting the operations of health facilities. Thousands of people died in Haiti’s last large cholera outbreak, which began in 2010 and lasted until 2019 when the country reported its last infection. On Oct. 9, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked the UN Security Council to honor Haiti’s request for a specialized international armed force to help secure a humanitarian corridor.

Hurricane Julia – Central America: Julia made landfall near Laguna de Perlas, Nicaragua, at 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 9 as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum winds around 85 miles per hour. Before hitting Nicaragua, Julia swept across the Colombian islands of Providencia and San Andrés. The hurricane dissipated on Oct. 10 but hit Guatemala and El Salvador with torrential rains. As of Oct. 10, at least 28 people were reported killed as a direct or indirect result of the storm. According to the National Hurricane Center, Julia poses a risk of flash floods and mudslides across Central America and southern Mexico through Oct. 11.

Landslide – Venezuela: Torrential rain fell on steep slopes resulting in flash floods and landslides near the town of Tejerias in Aragua overnight on Oct. 8-9. According to national authorities, at least 35 people were killed, and more than 1,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. More detailed analysis is needed, but heavy rainfall in hills to the north may have led to mudflows traveling down densely occupied channels.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Hurricane Ian – U.S. and Cuba: The devastation caused by Ian is becoming clearer nearly two weeks after the powerful hurricane made landfall in Cuba, Florida and South Carolina. While the death toll continues to fluctuate, at least 111 people lost their lives due to the hurricane. On Oct. 10, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission confirmed at least 102 total deaths attributed to Ian across 17 counties.

Assessments are ongoing, but Ian could become Florida’s costliest storm and second nationally to Hurricane Katrina when adjusted for inflation. The modeling firm RMS says Ian likely caused $53 billion to $74 billion in insured losses from Florida to the Carolinas. Older adults in Florida face a difficult path to recovery. They represent 29% of the population in Lee County, which was among the hardest hit areas, and for many, the storm took their largest nest egg—their home.

Many Cubans are still without electricity, water or basic goods. According to the Office of the Presidency, Ian destroyed nearly 8,000 homes and damaged another 68,000. Ian damaged nearly all of Cuba’s tobacco infrastructure just days before the October planting season. The industry employs thousands of Cubans and generates $500 million in exports.

Philanthropy Southeast hosted a webinar in collaboration with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Florida Philanthropic Network on Oct. 4 to help donors learn about the storm and how they can help affected communities.

For more, see our 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season disaster profile.

Hurricane Fiona – U.S. and Canada: President Joe Biden visited Puerto Rico on Oct. 3 to survey the damage caused by Fiona. Biden announced that the U.S. territory will receive $60 million through last year’s infrastructure law to help the island strengthen levees and flood walls and create a new flood warning system. More than three weeks after Fiona made landfall, more than 27,000 customers remained without power as of Oct. 11. Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, many Puerto Ricans left for the U.S. mainland. Some wonder if Fiona will result in more Puerto Ricans leaving the island.

Fiona became a post-tropical storm, damaging homes and knocking out power in multiple Canadian provinces. Fiona damaged at least 76 homes in the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, a community of 4,000 people. The storm is estimated to have caused at least $220 million in insured losses in Atlantic Canada.

For more, see our 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season disaster profile.

Monkeypox – Global: As of Oct. 7, 2022, there are 71,096 cases in 107 countries. The highest number of cases have been found in the U.S. (26,577), followed by Brazil (8,207), Spain (7,209), France (4,043) and the United Kingdom (3,654).

Hispanic and Latino men in the U.S. may have been disproportionately affected by monkeypox. Public health experts say a lack of access to healthcare and insurance, language barriers and the stigma around the disease has led to such large disparities. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health reported two new cases, and both were identified as community transmission, a first for the country.

For more, see our Monkeypox Global Outbreak disaster profile.

In addition to the disasters listed above, we are actively monitoring 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.

This is one of the latest disasters the ERF team is monitoring:

  • A wildfire burning in and around the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey began on Oct. 2 and consumed nearly 19,000 acres. The village of Halsey was evacuated for a time, and one firefighter died battling the fire.

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.

A large-scale humanitarian response has been in place since 2016 in northeast Nigeria, where the needs remain severe. Insecurity linked to armed groups, including the terrorist group Boko Haram, has disrupted livelihoods and led to displacement. In August, members of non-state armed groups escalated attacks targeting civilians, especially farming communities and vehicles carrying vital supplies along major highways.

Nigeria’s northeastern states have been experiencing a rise in cholera cases. More than 1,000 cases of cholera and 36 deaths have been reported in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states since May 2022. Funding is urgently needed to scale up the cholera response, especially for procuring drugs and establishing cholera treatment facilities.

The country is also battling its worst floods in a decade, with more than 300 people killed in 2022. Flooding has occurred in 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states, affecting half a million people, including 100,000 displaced and more than 500 injured. Extreme weather and climate events across the Lake Chad Basin, including Nigeria, significantly impact livelihoods, food security and violence.

With the lean season underway and up to 4.1 million people projected to face acute food shortages, northeast Nigeria’s malnutrition situation is quickly deteriorating. Médecins Sans Frontières has called on the humanitarian community to respond to the emergency needs and for northwest Nigeria to be included in the UN’s humanitarian response plan. Despite some recent funding announcements, the Nutrition Sector has a lean season funding gap of $39 million as of Sept. 19.

What We’re Reading

  • Hurricane Ian capped 2 weeks of extreme storms around the globe: Here’s what’s known about how climate change fuels tropical cyclones – The Conversation: While attribution studies for Ian are underway to determine how much global warming likely affected it, “individual attribution studies are not needed to be certain that the storm occurred in an environment that human-caused climate change made more favorable for a stronger, rainier and higher-surge disaster.”
  • Cholera Surging Globally as Climate Change Intensifies – VOA: “Philippe Barboza, WHO team lead for Cholera and Epidemic Diarrheal Diseases, said climate change presents an additional layer of complexity and creates the conditions for cholera outbreaks to explode.”
  • Somalia famine to be declared next month, despite years of warning signs – Yahoo News: After four consecutive years of drought, parts of Somalia are projected to enter a famine in October. Abby Maxman, president of Oxfam America, said, “What’s most frustrating is we’ve been sounding the alarm for some time, and yet the system isn’t responding timely enough. Those warnings are not being heeded.”
  • Opinion: Older people are ignored in emergencies to everyone’s peril – Devex: Carole Ageng’o, the Africa regional representative at HelpAge International, writes about the vital role older people play in their families and communities, and calls for greater attention to and inclusion of older people in humanitarian emergencies.

A pumpkin grower in upstate New York set a new U.S. record for the heaviest pumpkin, coming in at an incredible 2,554 pounds.