What we’re watching: Weekly disaster update, October 31

First responders help evacuate residents affected by floods caused by Tropical Storm Nalgae in the Philippines. (Source: @BangsamoroGovt 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. 31, 2022.

New or Emerging Disasters

Cyclone – Bangladesh: Cyclone Sitrang made landfall in Bangladesh on Oct. 24 in the Patuakhali district with maximum sustained winds of just over 51 miles per hour (83 kilometers per hour). According to the government’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, the cyclone damaged 10,000 houses and more than 14,000 acres (6,000 hectares) of crops. At least 35 people were killed, according to officials and media reports. Bangladesh is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, but a multi-layered early warning system has significantly reduced the death toll in the country from extreme weather events. Ahead of Sitrang’s landfall, thousands of volunteers helped evacuate hundreds of thousands of people to safety.

Flooding – Puerto Rico: A surge of tropical moisture last week brought up to eight inches of rain in some parts of Puerto Rico, resulting in flooding. On Oct. 27, 8.5 inches of rain was reported at Jiménez, in the northeast part of the island. In only 12 hours, San Juan received just over two inches of rain. Some damage to roadways and bridges was reported. The U.S. territory is recovering from Hurricane Fiona, which hit the island in September.

Tropical Storm – Philippines: On Oct. 27 and 28, Tropical Storm Nalgae, known locally as Paeng, brought heavy rain that triggered flooding and landslides in the southern Philippines. The storm killed at least 98 people, with most from the hard-hit province of Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro autonomous region. According to the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as of Oct. 31, the storm affected more than two million people and damaged over 4,800 houses and nearly 144,000 acres (58,243 hectares) of crops.

Dozens remain missing, partly due to a devastating landslide in the village of Kusiong, where recovery operations are ongoing. Following a deadly earthquake and tsunami in 1976, people in Kusiong were taught how to brace for a tsunami, including fleeing to higher ground, which is what they did during Nalgae. However, they were not prepared for a landslide from the edges of nearby Mount Minandar, which resulted in fatalities. The event is a tragic reminder of the importance of a multi-hazard approach to preparedness and early warning systems.

Previous/Ongoing Disasters

Hurricane – Latin America: Julia hit Nicaragua’s central Caribbean coast on Oct. 9 as a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and killed at least 28 people across the region. The storm also affected parts of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Julia passed through Colombia’s La Guajira department on Oct. 8 and affected nearly 159,000 people, including many Indigenous Wayuu communities and Venezuelan migrants and refugees. In Honduras, storms, including Julia, and persistent rains have affected 188,000 people. Humanitarian needs there include shelter, food security and protection.

Cholera – Lebanon: Many wastewater plants in Lebanon are no longer in operation due to fiscal challenges, creating urgent needs for clean water and sanitation services amid a cholera outbreak. On Oct. 6, Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of two laboratory-culture-confirmed cholera cases reported from the northern part of the country. As of Oct. 27, MoPH reported 1,095 cumulative cases and 15 deaths across the country. Save the Children has warned that as the outbreak spreads, thousands of children in neighboring countries are also at risk from the deadly disease. Lebanon’s cholera outbreak is one of many around the world currently.

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.

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

  • On Oct. 23, at least two wildfires led to evacuations in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Nearly 300 residents in Hallam, about 20 miles south of Lincoln, were ordered to evacuate their homes. Three homes were damaged in Lancaster County, and two firefighters were injured.
  • Modern levee systems built in response to past disasters are not designed for increased rainfall caused by climate change. Some communities in the region are embracing waterways in the form of green infrastructure or “nature-based solutions.”
  • Funding always plays a crucial role, particularly in rural areas. The Initiative Foundation aligned with The Funders Network and its Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emergency Partnership to organize fundraising to support long-term recovery.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – Sudan

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.

In October 2021, Sudan’s military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power from a transitional government. In the year since the military’s takeover, humanitarian needs continue to grow across the country, driven by inter-communal conflict, flooding and an economic crisis.

Two days of ethnic clashes in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile state in mid-October resulted in the death of at least 200 people. The violence in Blue Nile, which borders Ethiopia and South Sudan, began after land disputes between members of the Hausa people and rival groups.

In their October 2022 Global Risk Analysis, ACAPS identified Sudan as one context where the situation may deteriorate within the next six months, causing a rise in humanitarian needs. The report says increased intercommunal clashes in Blue Nile state could lead to displacement and needs for shelter, healthcare, and legal documentation.

In August and September, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding in many areas of Sudan. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, flooding has affected more than 348,000 people and damaged or destroyed over 73,000 homes.

With around 247,000 acres (100,000 hectares) of farmland flooded, the upcoming harvest may be negatively impacted. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are likely high among people displaced by intercommunal clashes, flood-affected households and poor urban families.

Sudan is experiencing a growing food crisis that is spreading from rural to urban areas and exceeding the response capacity of humanitarian groups. Almost 12 million people are estimated to be facing acute hunger. Inflation, rising food costs and an unjust economic system are also contributing factors.

What We’re Reading

  • Ten Years After Superstorm Sandy, Report Cites Slow Progress And Rising Costs Of At-Risk Properties – The Weather Channel: According to a new report from New York City’s comptroller, progress on protections and preparing for the risks that climate change poses has been slow in some areas, and more needs to be done to move faster and better utilize federal aid money.
  • ‘It’s like a death:’ What it’s like to leave one flood-prone community – The Washington Post: There are rarely easy answers when dealing with homes that face repeated flooding, even as more communities face the likelihood of such catastrophes in the years ahead.
  • From wildfires to hurricanes, midwives could play a key role in disaster response – The 19th: “The same communities impacted by the maternal health crisis will also disproportionately face the impacts of the climate crisis. While midwives are growing in popularity they are not well integrated into the United States health care system.”
  • WHO forced to ration vaccine as cholera cases surge worldwide – The Guardian: Twenty-nine countries have reported cholera cases this year, including Haiti, Malawi and Syria, which are facing large-scale outbreaks. According to the WHO, the “exceptional decision” to reduce the number of doses from two to one would allow the vaccines to be stretched until the end of the year.
  • Floods in West and Central Africa destroy crops, worsening hunger outlook – PBS: Above-average rainfall and devastating flooding have affected 5 million people this year in 19 countries across the region. Damaged farmlands may further increase food prices when inflation rates are already at record highs.

Oct. 28 was World Lemur Day. The Lemur Conservation Network shared some interesting lemur facts and photos to celebrate.