Cyclone Idai exposes the gap of disaster risk relief financing in Africa

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘BROOKINGS BRIEF’ NEWS)

 

AFRICA IN FOCUS

Cyclone Idai exposes the gap of disaster risk relief financing in Africa

Mohamed Beavogui

Cyclone Idai that wreaked havoc on southern Africa is reminding us of the need to quickly devise sustainable solutions to confront climate and natural disaster risks. Right now, the humanitarian community and the governments of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe are appealing for resources and emergency relief to assist over 3 million affected people.

The United Nations has classified Cyclone Idai as the worst tropical cyclone to have hit the southern Africa region in decades. The strong winds and torrential rains have put the region in a state of crisis, causing huge losses of life; flattening buildings; triggering massive floods that damaged critical infrastructure and farmlands, and submerged entire communities; leaving affected people in desperate situations without shelter, food, safe drinking water, and sanitation and hygiene.

The governments of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe have mobilized their limited available financial, logistical, and humanitarian resources for early response in the affected areas. The international community has sent in volunteer rescue workers and humanitarian aid to support local efforts. However, governments of affected countries and United Nations agencies are still requesting additional resources to support ravaged communities.

Recently, disasters such as cyclones, droughts, and floods are increasing in both frequency and magnitude. According to U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, from 1998 to 2017, disaster-hit countries reported direct economic losses of $2.9 trillion, of which climate-related disasters accounted for $2.2 trillion. Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, despite contributing the least to global warming. Climate-induced disaster effects on the continent are particularly devastating and are mainly caused by drought, flood, and cyclones, as well as outbreaks and epidemics of diseases like Ebola, Lassa Fever, and Marburg. The economic and social burden of natural disaster and disease outbreaks was estimated at $53.19 billion in 2014.

In terms of response, the continent has been struggling to allocate part of its limited resources to disaster preparedness, due to various competing priorities in health, education, infrastructure, and other sectors. Hence, the bulk of interventions in the event of disasters comes from donors. Typically, when a disaster strikes, countries, with the help of the international community, launch humanitarian appeals and work to raise funds to respond to the crisis. Meanwhile, the people affected by the disaster are forced to make difficult decisions that deteriorate their livelihoods and reverse hard-earned development gains, forcing more people into destitution, food insecurity, chronic poverty, and, often, involuntary migration.

To change this paradigm, the African Union Heads of State established the African Risk Capacity (ARC) in 2012 to support the development of better risk management systems on the continent, while simultaneously reducing the dependence of African countries on the international community for disaster relief.

ARC brings together three critical elements of disaster risk management to create a powerful value proposition for its members and partners: early warning systems, response planning based on well-prepared and validated contingency plans, and an index-based insurance and risk pooling mechanism.

Several lessons have emerged during the institution’s first five years. The most important is that the resource gap needed to protect vulnerable populations against disasters can be reduced substantially through a combination of efforts and collaboration between governments, international aid, and the private sector. To build sustainable and country-driven responses, aid resources should support government budgets in financing innovative mechanisms, such as risk transfer, and leverage resources from the private sector through, for example, insurance and bonds.

Right now, less than two-thirds of humanitarian appeals are met and only 8 percent of actual losses are covered by international aid in 77 of the world’s poorest countries. The insurance sector covers only 3 percent of disaster-induced losses through payouts. The share of disaster insurance could be substantially increased using innovative risk transfer mechanisms that incorporate governments, international humanitarian agencies, international financial institutions, nongovernmental organizations, insurance companies, and other private sector companies operating in disaster finance. Through this type of scheme, one dollar used to pay for a premium could generate several fold more dollars through a payout.

This model of collaboration could build a sustainable, inclusive, market-based, and more responsive system to drastically reduce the current resource gap. Moreover, the fact that $1 spent for early intervention can save over $4 in a period of six to nine months means the need for overall resources for response would reduce accordingly. Therefore, the availability of adequate resources for early intervention is a solution to explore not with new financing but with already existing resources pre-earmarked by governments and humanitarian partners.

As per current experimentation at ARC, partners such as humanitarian agencies and NGOs can participate in ARC’s disaster insurance schemes through a program called Replica. With help from the German government, these institutions can access aid resources and sign policies with ARC Ltd., the financial affiliate of the ARC group. Under this scheme, the insurance policy taken out by humanitarian partners replicates the policy signed by the government, hence increasing the coverage of the population insured. The actor and the government implement a common response plan when a disaster strikes and the index-based insurance is triggered. The advantage is the ability to provide larger resources earlier after a disaster strikes since money will be available immediately through payouts. The actor will also be able to not only intervene earlier but also provide assistance through an agreed early response plan, thus giving time for international humanitarian efforts to take action.

The combination of early warning contingency planning and index-based risk transfer and pooling is certainly, among others, a solution that can significantly contribute to the reduction of the gap in disaster protection. A solution to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian efforts is in front of us, and all existing actors have a role to play, particularly humanitarian agencies and NGOs.

Cyclone Idai: Mozambique survivors desperate for help

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyclone Idai: Mozambique survivors desperate for help

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Media caption Cyclone Idai: Survivors rescued by land and air

Mozambique’s port city of Beira is reeling from the damage inflicted by Cyclone Idai.

So far 200 people have been confirmed dead in the southern African country, along with another 100 in neighbouring Zimbabwe, but the death toll could be much higher.

Those who survived the disaster have had little reprieve to mourn the loss of their loved ones or salvage the little that is remaining of their belongings. They are in desperate need of food, shelter and clothing, as the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani reports from Beira.

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Inside a makeshift response centre at the airport in Beira, aid agencies are scrambling to get to those still trapped across the region.

It’s the first point of call for all the teams coming in from around the world and offers the first glimpse of how heavily this operation is relying on outside help.

A few kilometres away, panic is setting in. The people of Beira are growing anxious – help is coming, but it is really slow and not nearly enough.

“I have nothing. I have lost everything. We don’t have food. I don’t even have blankets. We need help,” one woman tells me as we make our way through the village of Manhava.

A general view of the damage after a cyclone swept through BeiraImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Most of the port city of Beira is under water

Beira’s geography, with parts of it lying below sea level, has always made it vulnerable to effects of extreme weather like Cyclone Ida which made landfall last week with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).

The city bore the full brunt of the destructive storm, which triggered flooding of the whole city and knocked down buildings and cut off roads. This is now stalling rescuers from reaching desperate people in need.


More on Cyclone Idai:


Some people here are trying to salvage what they can to create shelter. Those who can are repairing their metal roofs, while others are tying together pine branches to sleep under.

Homes have been damaged, some even completely destroyed, and there are pools of water everywhere.

Man mending roof
Image caption Some people have been trying to repair their houses

A local church has become a temporary home for scores of people. Half of its roof was blown off, but the walls have held and to some it is better than being out in the cold.

Locals stand beside a damaged section of the road between Beira and Chimoio in Nhamatanda district, central MozambiqueImage copyright AFP
Image caption Floodwaters have cut off roads and knocked down buildings

The UN has said that Cyclone Idai triggered a “massive disaster” in southern Africa, affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.

Neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi have also been affected by the freak storm that has caused the deaths of dozens and displacement of thousands of people.

A map showing areas of Mozambique before and after they were flooded

Everyone we come across here is begging us to come into their homes to show us what they have lost and how nature has stolen from them.

We are the first people they have seen since the cyclone hit on Thursday night.

“Please help us. Tell the world we are suffering. We don’t know where we are going to sleep,” says Pedro, a father of three children – all under the age of 10.

The residents here feel like they have been forgotten.

A UN camp for the people displaced in BeiraImage copyright AFP
Image caption A UN camp for the people displaced in Beira

As the full picture of this crisis slowly becomes clear, there are questions about whether the government of Mozambique could have done more to prepare for the disaster.

The floods of the year 2000 claimed hundreds of lives and yet some here feel lessons have not been learned.

“Our city was destroyed so easily because our infrastructure is not taken care of. Every time there is a problem here we need foreign countries to save us. What is our government doing, what is our own plan?” our driver asks me.

‘100,000 people at risk’

Back at the airport, a helicopter has just landed and rescue workers rush out, carrying in their arms children whose eyes are wide with fear.

“Many villages have been washed away. We found women and children holding on to trees. We are doing what we can,” said one of the rescuers.

A map showing flooding in Beira
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Many of those trapped are trying to get to higher ground but persistent rainfall has been hampering rescue operations.

Those rescued are being taken to a network of 56 camps dotted across the region.

More rains are expected and those who made it to safety are the lucky ones. Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi has said more than 100,000 people are at risk – and there is growing concern that help may not get to them in time.

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Cyclone Idai: ‘Massive disaster’ in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyclone Idai: ‘Massive disaster’ in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Media caption Cyclone Idai survivors are being rescued by land and air

Cyclone Idai has triggered a “massive disaster” in southern Africa affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, the UN has said.

The region has been hit by widespread flooding and devastation affecting Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi called it “a humanitarian disaster of great proportion”.

He said more than 1,000 people may have been killed after the cyclone hit the country last week.

Cyclone Idai made landfall near the port city of Beira in Sofala province on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).

“This is shaping up to be one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere,” Clare Nullis, from the UN’s weather agency, told the BBC on Tuesday.

Christian Lindmeier from the UN’s World Health Organization, said: “We need all the logistical support that we can get.”

Media caption Aerial footage showing the disaster in Mozambique

Mozambique’s government said 84 people had died and 100,000 needed to be urgently rescued near Beira.

An aerial survey of the province showed that a 50km (30 mile) stretch of land was under water after the Buzi river burst its banks, charity Save The Children said.

Image shows a general aerial view of a damaged neighbourhood in Sofala Province, Central MozambiqueImage copyright EPA
Image caption An aerial view of a severely damaged neighbourhood in Mozambique

The governor of neighbouring Manica province, Manuel Rodrigues, says there is an urgent need to rescue people still trapped, the BBC’s Jose Tembe reports.

“It’s very sad and very complicated, given what we saw when we flew over the area. We saw people besieged and asking for help,” Mr Rodrigues told reporters.

“They were on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We saw many people.

“We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water.”

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‘It was like a war’

A general view shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in Beira, MozambiqueImage copyright REUTERS

Nelson Moda was in Beira in Mozambique when the storm hit. He told his story to the BBC OS radio programme:

It was my son’s birthday on 14 March and we were all at home. In the morning this strong storm started and it was moving the city, the trees, and the houses.

It was like a war. It was horrific. The children were crying and we were hiding in the bathroom. I could see people dying and the house where I live has been destroyed.

There are children who now have no father, no mother, and no home. I saw the city where I grew up being destroyed with my naked eyes.

In Beira, there are no basic services and people don’t know what they’re going to eat or where they’re going to sleep.

I haven’t been able to sleep since that night.

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In Zimbabwe, the government says 98 people have been killed and more than 200 are missing.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the government was conducting rescue missions and delivering food aid.

In the south-eastern town of Chimanimani residents told harrowing stories of how they lost their relatives when the storm hit.

Some rescuers said homes and even bodies were washed away in the rivers to neighbouring Mozambique, the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka reports.

Timber company workers stand stranded on a damaged road on March 18, 2019, at Charter Estate, Chimanimani, eastern ZimbabweImage copyright AFP
Image caption Timber company workers were stranded after a road was damaged in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe

Floods of up to six metres deep had caused “incredible devastation” over a huge area in Mozambique, World Food Programme regional chief Lola Castro said.

At least 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone in Mozambique and 920,000 have been affected in Malawi, the UN said.

In Zimbabwe, at least 20,000 houses have been partially damaged in the south-eastern town of Chipinge, 600 others were completely destroyed.

Local officials say they are distributing rice and maize from the national food reserve to those displaced.

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What are the relief teams doing?

In Mozambique, several aid agencies are assisting government efforts in the search and rescue operations and in the distribution of food aid, ReliefWeb reports.

Telecoms Sans Frontiers has sent a team to Beira to help set up communication networks – which has been severely hindered – for humanitarian operations.

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Many aid trucks are stuck on the impassable roads and unable to reach their destinations. The conditions have also limited air operations.

Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management is also housing 3,800 families in Sofala province.

The Red Cross has warned there could be an outbreak of waterborne diseases, including cholera, due to the expected contamination of the water supply and disruption of usual water treatment.

A cargo plane carrying emergency supplies is also scheduled to arrive in Mozambique on Tuesday, Sacha Myers, from Save The Children, told the BBC.


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Cyclone Gaja makes landfall in Tamil Nadu coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Cyclone Gaja makes landfall in Tamil Nadu coast, over 76,000 people evacuated

As Cyclone Gaja made landfall at around 1.40 am, with its “eye” reaching the coasts between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam, the intensity of the winds decreased for a brief period before rising again.

INDIA Updated: Nov 16, 2018 10:46 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Andhra Pradesh,Bay of Bengal,Chennai
Fishermen dock their boats as a precautionary measure ahead of the arrival of cyclone Gaja, which intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and made landfall in he wee hours of Friday.(PTI)

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated on Friday as Cyclone Gaja crossed the Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and nearby Vedaranniyam uprooting trees and destroying houses in its path.

“The severe cyclonic storm Gaja crossed Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranniyam … with a wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting up to 120 kmph…,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin at 4am.

“It is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm during next 06 hours. Though center of cyclone lies over land, rear sector of eye wall is still over sea. It will take about an hour to move over land,” it said.

The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority said 76,290 people were evacuated from low lying areas and sheltered at over 300 relief centres in six districts including Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Tiruvarur.

A holiday has been declared for educational institutions in Nagapattinam.

Rains lashed Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, and Thanjavur during the cyclone’s landfall, uprooting trees in several regions. Electricity supply was disconnected in Nagapattinam and several other coastal regions in view of the cyclone’s landfall as a precautionary measure, officials said.

Four teams of National Disaster Response Force personnel have been already deployed in Nagapattinam district while two teams of the state disaster response force in Cuddalore district.

The state disaster management authority had released an animated video to create awareness on the do’s and don’ts during the cyclone. The government has also announced helpline numbers 1070 (state-level) and 1077 (districts).

IMD has predicted rainfall at most places with heavy rains at a few places and very heavy at isolated places very likely over south and north of interior Tamil Nadu.

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First Published: Nov 16, 2018 02:07 IST

Hurricane Michael flattened towns where survivors remain in disbelief

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Hurricane Michael flattened towns where survivors remain in disbelief

“I looked over at my husband and I took his hand and I said we’re not going to make it,” Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson recalled thinking amid the hurricane.
by Natalie Valdés /  / Updated 
The sunset in Mexico Beach, Florida,

Mexico Beach is ground zero with every home leveled.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — For a grueling 55 minutes, Mayor Margo Anderson didn’t know if they were going to survive Hurricane Michael.

She rode out the storm in the police headquarters building here with about 40 other people, including police officers, their families and their pets.

The group went room to room, dodging falling debris until the eye came through. Then, silence.

“I looked over at my husband and I took his hand and I said we’re not going to make it,” said Anderson. “We are not going to make it.”

Fortunately, all 40 people sheltered inside survived. Once the storm passed, they crawled through blown out windows to get out of the demolished building. The first time she went back inside the building, it was almost too much to bear.

“I have normally a very low, calm voice and I can feel myself just talking about it and I’m short of breath,” she said.

What Anderson lived through in Lynn Haven echoes the destruction seen by those throughout the area. The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 19 Sunday as searchers continued to make their way through the devastated parts of the Florida Panhandle. Residents have been left in disbelief, unsure of what’s next.

Four miles south of Lynn Haven is Panama City, Florida. Along the main road through town, every business has either some damage or is completely destroyed.

A local auto shop owner in Panama City was so worried about looting that he spent the night in his destroyed building armed with a shotgun.

William Johnson helps pack up a friend's belongings as he returns to his damaged home from hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach
William Johnson helps pack up a friend’s belongings as he returns to his damaged home from hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 14, 2018.David Goldman / AP

Meanwhile, Mexico Beach, just 24 miles away from Panama City, is considered ground zero for hurricane damage — every home there was leveled by the wind and rain. Search and rescue teams from Tennessee, Indiana and Florida are on the ground searching for 250 people who chose to stay behind and are currently unaccounted for.

“We continue to go through that list to assure that we account for everyone,” said Michael Pruitt, PIO for FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team.

Those without any insurance are in dire straits. Kelly Mitchell said her grandparent’s beach house is beyond repair. It was a place where generations of family members came together to enjoy the peacefulness of a small town coastal community of just about 1,000 people.

Kelly Mitchell drove back to Mexico Beach to find these pictures that her grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted.
Kelly Mitchell drove back to Mexico Beach to find these pictures that her grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

“I know it’s just a big house but it has a lot of memories for us,” said Mitchell. “There’s a five foot of storm surge inside and it’s totally mud and sand and everything in the house is just destroyed. ”

Mitchell and her daughter Abby Golden made their way from Blountstown to Mexico Beach for one thing.

“We came down here mainly to get pictures that my grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted in the house,” said Mitchell. “We wanted to salvage that and we were able to pick those up.”

In Lynn Haven, Anderson is working hard to check on her community, riding around otherwise impassible roads in a golf cart.

“We are all together. We have a hashtag. Lynn Haven Together And Strong. And that’s what we are,” said Anderson. “We have hope for the future and we’re going to get through it. People here are devastated. Our town has been catastrophically affected.”

Anderson organized the first distribution center in her city where residents can get a hot meal, water and ice. Volunteers have been working around the clock serving homemade casseroles, hot dogs, burgers, and even cupcakes. Everything has been donated from neighboring cities where people have power, can cook or can reach open grocery stores miles away.

“There’s a lot of good people here,” said Mara Harrison. “They just want to help.”

Harrison has lived in the Florida Panhandle all her life and she’s never seen devastation like this.

People line up for FEMA aid in Lynn Haven, Florida
People line up for FEMA aid in Lynn Haven, Florida, on Oct. 14, 2018.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

Across the street from the volunteer distribution center, her husband’s dentist office barely stands. But Harrison is more concerned about her neighbors who can’t leave their pummeled homes.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t have the means to leave and those are the people we need to help,” she said.

Anderson said 80 to 90 percent of the homes in Lynn Haven are destroyed. The Mexico Beach city manager said 95 percent of the homes in Mexico beach are uninhabitable.

Residents in Lynn Haven aren’t waiting for help. Although FEMA arrived Sunday to begin the process of providing transitional sheltering assistance to residents, volunteers continued to serve hot meals.

“Who’s going to help? People just don’t know they need to,” Harrison said as she prepared hot dogs and hamburgers for a long line of hungry neighbors. “They have no idea it’s like this.”

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SUNDAY EXPRESS)

 

Hurricane Leslie rams into Portugal with 109 mph winds: Lisbon devastated by storm

HURRICANE Leslie has devastated Lisbon as it batters Portugal with 109 mph winds leaving 27 people injured.

Heavy rain causes deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone

Authorities urged people to stay indoors and to stay away from coastal areas as the storm brought heavy rain, strong winds and surging seas.

At least 27 people have suffered minor injuries, according to civil defense officials.

The storm was the most intense overnight bringing localized flooding and uprooting thousands of trees.

Civil defense commander Luis Belo Costa said after Saturday night that “the greatest danger has passed”.

More than 300,000 homes have lost power, the commander at the Civil Protection Agency said.

Power authority EDP said more than 200 power lines were affected by the storm.

Over 60 people were forced to leave their homes.

Lisbon was the worst affected and Figueira da Foz, Averio, Viseu and Porto also suffered damage.

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula

Hurricane Leslie has battered the Iberian peninsula (Image: REUTERS)

Portugal’s weather service had issued red warnings or dangerous coastal conditions for 13 of its 18 mainland districts.

A resident of Figueira da Foz described the storm like a war zone.

They told SIC television: “I have never seen anything like it, The town seemed to be in a state of war, with cars smashed by fallen trees. People were very worried.”

The main motorway in Portugal was blocked by a fallen tree preventing services from traveling.

Hurricane Leslie causes widespread damage in Portugal

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Thousands of trees have been uprooted

The latest forecast for the storm (Image: ACCU-WEATHER)

Hurricane Leslie was downgraded to a tropical storm and by Sunday morning most of the powerful winds and heave rains had subsided.

Spain and southern France have also been affected by the powerful storm.

Winds uprooted trees in the center of Spain early Sunday morning.

Flood warnings have also been issued in the north and northwest of the country for today.

More than 300,000 people have lost power

More than 300,000 people have lost power (Image: REUTERS)

Parts of southern France have also been put on alert for storms and flooding.

The storm formed on September 23 and spent weeks in the Atlantic Ocean before coming to the Iberian peninsula.

It was hovering over the Atlantic for so long because it didn’t encounter a strong enough weather system to force it towards land, according to Accu-weather.

It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to hit the Iberian peninsula as only five have been recorded.

The last tropical system to follow in Leslie’s path was Vince in 2005.

No Food, No FEMA: Hurricane Michael’s Survivors Are Furious

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST)

 

JUST LIKE PUERTO RICO

No Food, No FEMA: Hurricane Michael’s Survivors Are Furious

Miles and miles of Florida are obliterated, and residents have been left to fend for themselves with little help from the government.

Joe Raedle/Getty

PANAMA CITY, Florida—Hurricane Michael’s sudden transformation into an unprecedented storm haunts everyone on the Florida Panhandle who lived through it. “It was raw power,” says Panama City resident Walter McAlster, “you felt you were in it, not outside and didn’t know if you would live through it. You knew that everything was going to change the landscape forever.”

And it did, in the space of three hours.

The destruction is everywhere, at every corner, as far as the eye can see. Mexico Beach, where the hurricane’s eye wall slammed into Florida with 140 mph winds, is flattened. Panama City, gem of the Emerald Coast, looks like a bomb has been dropped on it. It is now a desolate landscape of toppled power poles, transformers, electrical lines, severed trees, and metal roofing, twisted and tangled into a sea of debris. Nearly all homes, businesses, stores, banks, schools are severely damaged or destroyed, skeletal remains with blown out windows or crushed facades. To residents, it is unrecognizable.

A roof over a boat storage building that collapsed following Hurricane Michael on Oct. 11, 2018, in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Chris O’Meara-Pool/Getty

There is so much rubble that the official death toll of 14 is expected to rise as search-and-rescue teams inspect thousands of buildings, looking for the missing. A team from the Miami Fire Department found a body in a Mexico Beach home on Friday. About 1,700 workers have checked 27,000 homes, Gov. Rick Scott said after meeting with emergency responders on Saturday evening.

The debris has rendered most roads and streets virtually impassible for evacuees and first responders. Electric poles bent at 90 degrees and power lines strewn like spaghetti cover most lanes. Nearly all transformers were destroyed. Vehicles dodge ruined trees, split like toothpicks or uprooted by the power of the storm.

View of the damaged caused by Hurricane Michael when it hit Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty

Driving across the Apalachicola National Forest reserve that borders the coast was like touring a cemetery: endless rows of decapitated trees, leaning perfectly aligned like fallen prisoners who had been executed. Electrical poles 30 feet high have been split in half, their power lines strewn across the macadam. It went on like this for 60 miles.

Since the storm, there’s been no electricity and no water in Panama City. Emergency disaster relief was yet to be seen in strength as of Saturday morning and residents were growing more frustrated and desperate.

Chantelle Goolspy sat in her car making phone calls to get help. Goolspy and many of her neighbors live in a public housing area in downtown Panama City that was badly devastated.

“We’re in need of food, water, anything, we’re not getting any help. The whole street needs help,” Goolspy told the Red Cross. “FEMA referred me to you. That person told me to call 211.”

Chantelle Goolspy and her son, Antoine.

Ingrid Arnesen/The Daily Beast

Down the street, Barbara Sanders stood outside her daughter’s unit, where she had come to stay during the hurricane.

“We’re not getting any help,” she said. “We need food. It’s just crazy.”

Sanders said that not a single relief agency had come by to check on them. Only the police had come and it was to tell everyone to leave. “They told us there’s nothing they can do and it’s gonna take a long time to rebuild,” Sanders said.

Just then a pick-up truck arrived with water. It was the first help this neighborhood had received and it turned out to be two brothers—Chris and Brendon Hill, from Louisiana—who had decided to come and help.

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael are shown in this aerial photo on Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Florida.

Chris O’Meara-Pool/Getty

In neighboring Panama City Beach, city manager Mario Gisbert wasn’t going to wait for federal emergency assistance. Volunteers from Florida and other states brought water, set up a food kitchen for police, and prepared 1,500 meals for locals. A local church is preparing to distribute meals at 15 stations in Panama City.

“The American people are helping us,” Gisbert said. “FEMA will eventually come into the game and get the accolades in six months.”

Federal, state, and local officials were hunkered down at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) set up at Gulf Coast State College in Lynn Haven, trying to get urgently needed food and water to residents. The EOC turned down The Daily Beast’s request to speak with the EOC chief, Mark Bowen, and city officials. Spokesperson Catie Feenie said the focus was on “coordinating some patrols who are in life-saving mode” for the 60,000 residents who had not evacuated before the hurricane, like Goolspy and Sanders.

“We’re telling everybody to save [food and water] because it will be days before we’re ready to do that,” Feenie said.

At a press conference in Panama City on Saturday evening, Gov. Scott stressed the same point.

“Everybody just needs to help each other right now,” he said.

Meanwhile, some 17,000 utility workers are busy restoring power to 245,000 Florida homes and businesses without electricity.

Boats in dock were reduced to rubble when Hurricane Michael passed through Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Officials said schools have been closed indefinitely, but word hadn’t gotten out. Goolspy’s 13-year son, Antoine, was hopeful he could return soon. “I don’t want to repeat my seventh grade because without education you can’t get ahead,” he said, adding he couldn’t wait to take a shower, too.

Word about not getting water or meals had not yet reached rural communities inundated by the hurricane’s rains and storm surge. In Gadsden County, outside Tallahassee, where the storm killed four people, county commissioner Anthony Viegbesie said he had not seen a single relief agency.

“This is a community that lives on agriculture. Without electricity, the wells don’t work,” he said. “We survive primitively.”

Typhoon Mangkhut Hits Hong Kong/mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong and mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong residents huddled indoors Sunday and strong winds sent debris flying as Typhoon Mangkhut, the world’s strongest storm this year, carved a destructive and deadly path from the Philippines toward mainland China.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) raised the storm signal to T10 — the highest level possible — Sunday morning local time, with the city almost entirely shut down.
Fierce winds have already torn off roofs, smashed windows and downed trees in Hong Kong, as authorities warned of the threat of storm surges and flooding from torrential rain.
Mangkhut was recorded packing sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour (107 miles per hour) and gusts up to 223 kilometers per hour (138 miles per hour) as the storm’s eye passed south of the territory in the early afternoon, according to the HKO.
At 4 p.m. local time, the storm was 110 kilometers (68 miles) west-southwest of Hong Kong, and heading for the surrounding Pearl River Delta, home to 120 million people, the HKO reported later Sunday. Mangkhut was expected to make landfall sometime Sunday evening in southern mainland China.
Along the coast, the gambling enclave of Macau, which was hit hard by Super Typhoon Hato last August, closed all its casinos, and all fishing boats from China’s Guangdong province have been called into port.
A shop owner is rescued by members of the fire brigade from a flooded area of Macau on Sunday.

The storm is expected to be one for Hong Kong’s record books. It’s only the 15th time in the last 60 years that a storm has been classified as T10; the last was for Super Typhoon Hato last year.

On Saturday, it plowed into the Philippines, flattening homes in small towns and villages on the northern island of Luzon. The presidential spokesperson for Rodrigo Duterte told reporters Sunday that 40 people had died.

Harry Roque said most of the deaths were due to landslides and mainly occurred in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The official death toll complied by the Philippines disaster agency still stands at zero as it instituted a stringent criteria for associating deaths with storms following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The region braces

Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor was hit with a storm surge of more than 3.9 meters (12.8 feet) above chart datum Sunday. Hong Kong’s famous skyline, filled with massive buildings jutting up from the hill, was almost completely obscured as squalls roared through, however visibility has since improved.
More than 550 flights have been canceled at airports in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and more than 200 have been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. Most of Hong Kong’s public transport has been suspended.
Hong Kong authorities have been warning residents about the storm for days. On Saturday, grocery stores were packed with people stocking up on goods. Buildings across the city were either boarded up or had their windows taped in order to mitigate the damage of broken glass.
Other cities around the Pearl River Delta — which includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Macau — are on high alert.
Guangzhou, the capital and most populous city in Guangdong province, issued its highest typhoon emergency alert, according People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated. Airports in Shenzhen, a technology hub across the border from Hong Kong, and on the resort island of Hainan have canceled all flights, according to Chinese state media.

Mangkhut slams into the Philippines

Mangkhut struck the northern Philippines as a super typhoon, causing flooding and landslides on the northern island of Luzon.
It made landfall in the Philippines Saturday at 1:40 a.m. local time, packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.
Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, blocked roads with debris and dumped water on fields of crops.
More than 250,000 people were affected by the storm across the country, with around half of those seeking shelter in evacuation centers in the country’s north.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will head to the region Sunday to see the damage and recovery operations, presidential Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN.
The most severe damage came in Luzon’s north, a sparsely populated region that’s considered the breadbasket of the Philippines, though areas as far away as Manila — more than 340 km (200 miles) from the eye of the storm — were hit with heavy rains that caused flooding in urban areas.
As of Saturday, the storm had caused 51 landslides in the Philippines’ north. Search crews are looking for people reported missing in the mountainous Cordillera region, Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino said.
Though the storm system has moved on, extent of the damage has been difficult to assess Sunday as fierce winds were replaced by flood waters, blocking access and aid to affected areas. A vital transportation hub in the region, Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, was damaged in the storms, according to the Department of Transportation, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 local and international flights.
Mangkhut is expected to make another landfall late Sunday night, hitting the Chinese province of Guangdong near the cities of Yangjiang and Zhanjiang.
From there the system will continue to move westward and will rain itself out over northern Vietnam, which could lead to some flooding there early next week.

Mom and 8-month-old found dead during Florence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

North Carolina firefighters pray after mom and 8-month-old found dead during Florence

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Firefighters pray after mom and child found dead during Florence

A group of firefighters was captured spreading a bit of peace during a time of devastation.

Wilmington Fire Department were attempting to rescue a family after a tree fell on their home on Friday. Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 near Wilmington with winds of 90 mph.

Firefighters and rescue crews stopped to kneel and pray after they discovered the mother and her 8-month-old infant were killed by the fallen tree.

Fire officials say the mother, child and father were trapped inside the house for several hours before rescuers could reach them.

The father was transported to a hospital for treatment, according to the Associated Press.

There have been at least five deaths confirmed as a result of Hurricane Florence, which is now a tropical storm.

Related Topics:
hurricane florencefirefightersu.s. & worldfloodingtropical stormNorth Carolina

Hurricane Florence Targets Carolinas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

 

Hurricane Florence Targets Carolinas, Appalachians With Potentially Catastrophic Flooding, Destructive Winds; Hurricane Warning Issued

By weather.com meteorologists

less than an hour ago

weather.com

At a Glance

  • Florence remains a dangerous Category 4 hurricane.
  • A strike on the Carolinas will occur late Thursday and into Friday.
  • Hurricane and storm surge warnings have been issued.
  • A life-threatening storm surge is expected with landfall.
  • Catastrophic inland flash flooding and major river flooding may result.
  • Tropical-storm-force winds may arrive as soon as Thursday morning.
  • Florence is also generating dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast.

Hurricane Florence will lash the Carolinas late Thursday and into Friday as an intense hurricane with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and potentially catastrophic inland rainfall flooding as one of the strongest strikes on record for this part of the U.S. East Coast.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,” the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote in its Tuesday evening area forecast discussion.

A hurricane warning and storm surge warning are now in effect from the South Santee River, South Carolina, northward to Duck, North Carolina, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. This includes Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.

Hurricane watches and storm surge watches remain posted north of Duck, North Carolina, to the border between North Carolina and Virginia, as well as from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the South Santee River, South Carolina. This includes Charleston, South Carolina.

Hurricane watches also extend to some extent inland in the Carolinas, including such cities as Goldsboro and Lumberton, North Carolina, with a hurricane warning posted for Kinston, North Carolina.

Tropical storm watches have been issued farther north, from the border between North Carolina and Virginia to Cape Charles Lighthouse, Virginia, as well as for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort, Virginia. This includes Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia.

image
Watches and Warnings

(A watch means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A warning means those conditions are expected within 36 hours.)

A hurricane warning means hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area and is typically issued 36 hours ahead of the arrival of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph), which could make last-minute preparations difficult.

A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening storm-surge inundation within the warning area during the next 36 hours from rising water moving inland from the coastline.

If you’re in the East Coast threat zone, it’s time to finish up your hurricane preparedness plan and be ready to implement if necessary. Residents in coastal areas should follow evacuation orders from local officials because of the potential for life-threatening storm-surge flooding.

(LATEST NEWS: Mandatory Evacuations Ordered)

Current Status

As of Tuesday night, Florence was centered more than 600 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving west-northwestward.

image
Current Storm Status

(The highest cloud tops, corresponding to the most vigorous convection, are shown in the brightest red colors. Clustering, deep convection around the center is a sign of a healthy tropical cyclone.)

Florence replaced its eyewall Tuesday morning, something that can happen multiple times in intense hurricanes. During this period, the hurricane may level off or weaken a tad but then gain strength as the outer eyewall contracts inward, replacing the old inner eyewall, leaving a larger core with, most importantly, a larger wind field.

Florence underwent rapid intensification Sunday into Monday, when its winds jumped up from 75 mph to 130 mph in just 25 hours ending 12 p.m. EDT Monday.

Some additional strengthening is possible, and it’s not out of the question that Florence could approach Category 5 status for a time by Wednesday.

Florence is generating swells that are affecting parts of the U.S. East Coast. Swells are also propagating to Bermuda and north- and northeastward-facing coasts of the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Hispañiola, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.

These swells will produce life-threatening surf and rip current conditions at these beaches.

(MORE: Hurricane Central)

Track Forecast

Florence is being steered toward the coast of the Carolinas by a strong dome of high pressure aloft over the western Atlantic Ocean.

image
Projected Path

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It’s important to note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone usually spread beyond its forecast path.)

There remains some uncertainty where exactly the eye of Florence will make landfall late Thursday or on Friday, which will determine what part of the coastline experiences the worst wind and storm-surge impacts.

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Florence to be a major hurricane, at least Category 3 intensity, when it arrives at or near the southeastern U.S. coast late Thursday or on Friday.

The hours leading up to landfall and the days after landfall have become a bit more uncertain. Recent forecast guidance has suggested Florence may turn a bit more westward and slow down considerably as it nears the Carolina coast.

That dome of high pressure aloft is expected to weaken, which may allow Florence to stall and meander near the coast or just inland of the coast. Here is what we know right now about Florence’s track timing. All of this is subject to change slightly, so check back for updates.

– Timing: The peak coastal impacts from Florence are expected late Thursday and into Friday, potentially into the weekend if a stall occurs near the coast. Tropical-storm-force winds are expected to first arrive Thursday morning along the southeastern U.S. coast in the general area of the forecast path. Impacts from Florence, particularly heavy rain, may continue into this weekend or early next week if it stalls out or moves erratically for a time, as suggested by some forecast guidance.

– Locations Potentially Affected: The Carolinas are at greatest risk for major impacts from Florence. Locations farther south, such as Georgia, and farther north into the mid-Atlantic should also monitor Florence for any forecast changes. The latest trends in computer models have brought more potential impacts to the central and southern Appalachians.

Likely U.S. Impacts

– Storm-Surge Impact: A destructive storm surge will accompany the eye coming ashore late Thursday or on Friday. It will be highest to the north or northeast of where the center comes ashore. Large, battering waves will ride atop this surge. All evacuation orders from local officials should be followed because of this dangerous threat. Significant beach erosion is also likely on the southeastern U.S. coast. Elevated water levels may persist for some time after landfall in areas where onshore winds persist.

image
Storm Surge Watches and Warnings

Here are the latest storm-surge inundation forecasts from the National Hurricane Center if the eye of Florence arrives at high tide:

– Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, North Carolina, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers: 9 to 13 feet
– North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina: 6 to 9 feet
– Cape Lookout, North Carolina, to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina: 6 to 9 feet
– South Santee River, South Carolina, to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 4 to 6 feet
– Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, to the North Carolina/Virginia border: 4 to 6 feet
– Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to the South Santee River, South Carolina: 2 to 4 feet

(MORE: Past Storm Surges in the Carolinas)

image
Storm-Surge Forecast

(From the National Hurricane Center.)

– Wind Impact: Tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) are expected to arrive in the hurricane warning area Thursday morning. Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) may arrive by Thursday night or early Friday. Numerous downed trees and long-lasting power outages could occur near and inland from where the center of Florence strikes. This threat of tree damage and power outages may also extend across Florence’s larger swath of tropical-storm-force winds. Structural damage to homes and buildings is possible, particularly where the core of any hurricane-force winds moves through.

image
Tropical-Storm-Force Wind Probabilities

(Winds of 39 mph or greater are expected to begin at the times indicated in purple. Preparations should be completed 12 to 18 hours before this time.)

– Rainfall Impact: Florence will not only produce heavy rain along the coast, but also far inland across the Carolinas, mid-Atlantic and possibly other parts of the Southeast. That heavy rain threat may last for days if Florence stalls out into this weekend or early next week, as suggested by some forecast guidance. If that stall occurs, disastrous flooding could occur in some areas. See the link below for more information.

(MORE: Potentially Catastrophic Inland Flooding Possible)

According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to produce 15 to 25 inches of rain, with isolated totals to 35 inches, over parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia through early next week.

image
Florence Rainfall Outlook

(This should be interpreted as a broad outlook of where the heaviest rain may fall and may shift based on the forecast path. Extreme amounts may occur where bands of rain stall over a period of several hours. )

The name Florence has been used for Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes since 1953. The destructive potential of this iteration could mean the name Florence may be retired from future use.

Check back with weather.com for updates on Florence’s forecast.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.
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