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Tropical Cyclone Harold - Apr 2020

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Types de catastrophes
Cyclone tropical

Mid-day of 3 April 2020, TC Harold had moved into the Vanuatu's area of responsibility and is tracked through the Vanuatu Tropical Cyclone Tracking Map. At 22:00 UTC on 4 April, TC Harold was a category 4 tropical cyclone located approximately 95km off the west coast of Santo, Vanuatu. It is currently moving in a south south easterly direction at a rate of 14km/h, with maximum sustained winds close to the centre estimated at 175km/h. Predictions indicate that TC Harold will increase to a category 5 tropical cyclone within the next 12 hours, then weaken to a category 4 tropical cyclone once it has passed over Vanuatu late on Monday evening. Severe weather warning for heavy rainfalls and flash flooding, including possible landslides are expected... The system will slowly move East/Southeast across central islands by Monday or Tuesday next week and expected near west of Fiji by Wednesday 8 April. (IFRC, 5 Apr 2020)

Tropical Cyclone HAROLD continued moving south-east over the Coral Sea and made landfall over southwest coast of Espiritu Santo Island (north Vanuatu) on 6 April around 0.00 UTC, with maximum sustained winds up to 215 km/h. Media reported, as of 06 April, 7 fatalities and 21 people were still missing across Salomon Islands. In addition, media reported, hundreds of people preventively evacuated across Espiritu Santo. (ECHO, 6 Apr 2020)

The northern provinces of Sanma, Malampa and Penama are most affected. Due to its path across the centre of Vanuatu, TC Harold has directly impacted on a large number of populated islands and the large island of Santo with the country’s second largest city Luganville. According to the latest satellite analysis based on the cyclone track and wind speed zones and the population data, at least 112,000 people would be potentially exposed to the strong winds greater than 120km/h. Mobile phone networks on the islands were still down as of 7 April. Two Aerial Surveillance Assessment team were deployed on 7 April to assess the northern provinces and a Rapid Technical Assessment Team is scheduled to be deployed on the ground as soon as conditions allow. (OCHA, 6 Apr 2020)

In the night of 7-8 April TC Harold headed to Fiji where it hit Viti Levu and the islands to the east as a Category 4 cyclone. The cyclone has caused significant power outages, blocked roads due to fallen trees, and widespread flooding. A total of 69 evacuation centers in four divisions have been set up to accommodated 1,778 evacuees. As of 08 of April the Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office estimates that up to 160,000 people may have been affected by the cyclone int he country. The provinces of Sanma (53,344 people), Penama (32,055 people), and Malampa (40,917 people) have been categorized as Priority 1 for assistance. The provinces of Torba (10,102 people) and Shepherds Group (23,056 people) have been categorized as Priority 2. (OCHA, 8 Apr 2020)

On 9 April, Vanuatu Government issued a request for in-kind assistance to the European Union. In response, as part of the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism, France is sending tents, shelter kits, kitchen sets and jerry cans. The EU's Copernicus emergency mapping service was activated (EMSR 434) on 6 April, in order to support damage assessment and impact assessment in Vanuatu. In Tonga, significant damage to the water supply and food crops was reported across Tongatapu. Central and Western Tongatapu are expected to be hardest hit due to the king tides and significant flooding. Destruction is widespread, including significant damage to homes, water supply and food crops is reported in 'Eua. Hundreds are reported to be currently sheltering in evacuation centres due to homes being destroyed. In Fiji, telecommunication and electricity networks have been largely restored. Disaster assessments are under way by the national disaster management office (ECHO, 10 Apr 2020).

The humanitarian response to Cyclone Harold continues and assessments are ongoing in the most affected areas of Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga. Initial findings from an assessment in Sanma Province in Vanuatu indicate that an estimated 80 – 90% of the population lost their houses, while some 60% of schools and 20% of health centres may be damaged. Food crops are seriously damaged. In Fiji, the Government made a Declaration of Natural Disaster for TC Harold on 12 April. As of 13 April, more than 1,800 evacuees are being sheltered in 65 evacuation centres in Fiji, while in Tonga, 17 evacuation centres are sheltering 323 people and an estimated 428 houses have been damaged. UN agencies and NGO partners are supporting the National Disaster Management Authorities and are releasing prepositioned relief items for the response with additional in-kind and logistical support from the FRANZ alliance. On 13 April, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund released USD$ 2.5 million for the response in Vanuatu (OCHA, 14 Apr 2020).

In Vanuatu, an estimated 160,000 people have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold which hit the island state on 6 April. The provinces of Sanma, Malampa and Penama were hardest hit. Assessments are ongoing by Government and humanitarian partners, including the UN, and the Pacific Humanitarian Team is supporting government-led efforts to respond to needs. Logistics in the response have been hampered by difficult local conditions following the cyclone as well as by COVID-19 restrictions that have been put in place for incoming cargo and people.

In Fiji, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) – with the help of the Fiji Red Cross, UNICEF and other humanitarian partners on the ground, continues to deliver relief items to some 20,000 people who were most affected by TC Harold in the Eastern Division of the country. Evacuation centres in the north and west have closed, but over 1,300 people remain in 105 centers in the Central (13) and Eastern (92) Divisions. As of 21 April, 1,310 people are sheltering in 105 evacuation centres in the Eastern and Central divisions. The eastern division has the highest number of people in evacuation centres with 1,116 evacuees in 92 evacuation centres. All evacuation centres in Northern and Western Divisions are now closed. (OCHA, 21 Apr 2020).

In Tonga, most people have returned to their homes from evacuation centers and small-scale relief distributions are ongoing through the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and the Tongan Red Cross. (OCHA, 20 Apr 2020).

In Vanuatu, the NDMO – together with various ministries and humanitarian partners on the ground - continues to conduct assessments in the three worst-affected provinces of Sanma, Penama and Malampa. Affected populations (up to 160,000 people) particularly need shelter, access to safe water, and food assistance. The health situation, compounded by COVID-19, is also of concern as a number of health structures have been damaged. A total of 15 Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) have been deployed across the three most affected provinces to provide basic health care and – together with the Food and Nutrition Cluster – to assess the nutrition situation and distribute nutrition supplements. (OCHA, 27 Apr 2020).

There has been an increase in response activity with more shelter relief items now being distributed. Concerns remain that this is still very slow and of the estimated 17,347 households in destroyed & severely damaged categories only around 1,954 households have received emergency shelter assistance. This means that only around 11% of houses in the higher damage categories have received emergency shelter assistance. There is currently enough stock in-country to cover 36% of emergency shelter needs (Govt. of Vanuatu, IFRC, Shelter Cluster, 30 Apr 2020).

The Vanuatu Shelter Cluster now estimates that there is enough available to address humanitarian shelter needs of approximately 82 per cent of households whose homes have been severely damaged or destroyed. However, only 13% of households in need have received shelter assistance so far. As of 6 May, there are 610 people in 79 evacuation centers in Fiji. According to the Agriculture final assessment report at least 53,000 farmers have been affected by TC Harold, with the cost of damage to crops and livestock estimated to be FJD29 million. In Toga, UNICEF has supported MIA to provide psychosocial support (PSS) and counseling for 300 children and 840 community members in Siesia island and Patangata village, Tongatapu; PSS/counseling for 1200 children delivered through most affected schools in Hihifo and Kolofo’ou districts, Tongatapu; PSS support to 45 families in Eua island. In Solomon Islands initial assessment show 25 schools in three provinces - Guadalcanal, Makira Ulawa, Central Islands – have been damaged or destroyed. Damage has been reported to classrooms, specialized classrooms, WASH infrastructures and staff houses, as well as learning/teaching resources. (OCHA, 7 May 2020)

In Vanuatu, at least 60 percent of croplands have been severely damaged by the cyclone according to early estimates by FAO. Based on the Rapid Technical Assessment report of the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), food crops as well as export crops have been uprooted and snapped at the trunk by the strong winds. At household level, severe losses of stored crops and seeds as well as small livestock were reported. International food aid and agricultural assistance, in the form of vegetable seeds, planting material and farming equipment, are urgently needed to facilitate crop replanting and to prevent the deterioration of the food security situation. FAO is working with the Vanuatu Food Security and Agriculture Cluster and the NDMO to restore agricultural production and rebuild people's livelihoods (FAO, 8 May 2020).

Humanitarian programmes continue to respond to the needs of people affected by Cyclone Harold. In Fiji, damage to crops and livestock is reported to be approximately FJD29 million and as of 10th May, a total of 610 people remain in 79 evacuation centres in the Central (8) and Eastern (71) Divisions respectively. Humanitarian response is continuing with emphasis on WASH, Food Security, Shelter and Health. In Vanuatu, the National Disaster Management Office has organized 12 shipments of food and non-food items (tents, tarpaulins, medical supplies, fuel) to affected areas since 10 April and a Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) of USD2.58 million was approved for live-saving activities to assist 109,000 people in need (OCHA, 12 May 2020).

In Fiji, a total of 610 people are still hosted in 79 evacuation centers in the Central (8) and Eastern (71) Divisions respectively after being displaced by Tropical Cyclone Harold over one month ago. The humanitarian response is ongoing, and is focusing on water and sanitation, food security, shelter, and health response activities. An allocation from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been approved with US$1M to provide assistance to 200,000 people in need (OCHA, 19 May 2020).