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Cuba: Hurricanes Isidore and Lili Appeal No. 29/2002 Final Report

Date de publication

Appeal No. 29/02 launched on 8 October 2002 for 6 months for CHF 597,000 to assist 10,000 beneficiaries. The operation was extended until 31 October 2003. Appeal coverage: 75.2%
Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocated: N/A

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In late 2002, two hurricanes hit the island of Cuba in the space of just 11 days; Hurricane Isidore struck on 20 September and Hurricane Lili struck on 2 October. Isidore, a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale and Lili, a category 1 hurricane, reached wind speeds of 165 and 130 km/hour respectively. One person was killed as a result of a landslide. Over a million people were evacuated by the Civil Defence, assisted by Cuban Red Cross volunteers. Some 77,275 of these people had to be housed in shelters. The worst damage was caused by flooding as a result of the heavy rains that hit the western region of the country and the southern coast of the eastern provinces. Many families lost their belongings and household goods due to tidal surges . The areas most affected by Isidore were the Isla de la Juventud and eight municipalities in the province of Pinar del Rio. Following Lili, heavy rain caused serious damage in four municipalities in the province of Granma, three municipalities in the province of Santiago de Cuba and one municipality in the province of Holguín.

Around 50,000 houses were damaged throughout the country, 37,000 of which were in the province of Pinar del Rio; 17,481 houses were totally destroyed. Some 14 hospitals and 400 schools were affected, as were the electricity and communications networks. Cattle and poultry w ere lost as well as crops of fruit, coffee and tobacco.

The disaster coordination committee of the Cuban Red Cross and a delegate from the Federation conducted a damage and needs assessment in the wake of the hurricanes in the affected municipalities and communities of the province of Pinar del Rio. Based upon this assessment, a plan of action was drawn up to assist victims of the hurricanes.

Damage to housing was as follows:

Worst affected Provinces
Worst affected Municipalities
Total number of damaged houses
Pinar del Rio San Juan y Martínez, San Luis, Guane, Minas de Matahambre,Sandino, Mantua, La Palmar, Pinar del Río
Isla de la Juventud Isla de la Juventud
Holguín Gibara
Granma Pilón, Manzanillo, Bayamo, Niquero
Santiago de Cuba Guamá, III Frente, Santiago de Cuba

Based upon the needs of the communities and beneficiaries affected by the hurricanes, the CRC put forth the following goals for the relief operation:

  • Support and assist local authorities in damage and needs assessments during the emergency phase of the operation.

  • Provide assistance and first aid to injured and sick beneficiaries in shelters.

  • Prevent the outbreak of epidemics

  • Support housing reconstruction projects by providing roofing materials.

  • Ensure that affected families receive household and personal hygiene goods.

  • Supply first aid equipment to National Society volunteers and branches.

  • Coordinate with governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide the necessary resources to carry out the relief operation so as not to duplicate efforts in the same area.

  • Increase the level of coordination and improve relationships with the different organizations and institutions that make up the Civil Defence.

  • Improve the image of the Cuban Red Cross and increase the level of satisfaction among CRC volunteers, the public and government authorities.

  • Ensure that volunteers participate in drawing up assessments and beneficiary lists, receiving beneficiaries in shelters, storing and distributing relief items and transporting goods and personnel as a means of strengthening the CRC's image.

In order to implement the plan of action, the Cuban Red Cross created a coordination committee made up of members of the National Society. The CRC's national intervention teams (NITs) were mobilized, as were tracing services . The radio communication network helped to transmit information between the affected provinces and was useful during a series of telephone outages, although there were some difficulties due to insufficient equipment and several electricity failures.

Of the total funding received during for the relief operation, a portion of it was used to purchase articles that were difficult to obtain in Cuba, such as zinc sheets, nails, some household items such as, water bottles, backpacks, lanterns and first aid kits. The remainder of the funding was sent to the Cuban Red Cross to be used for the purchase of mattresses, water sanitation and construction materials, equipment for NITs in the province of Pinar del Rio, radio communication equipment, computers and educational material addressing community based disaster preparedness. These funds were also used to cover logistical costs such as customs fees, international courier services, and transportation, including the purchase of two motorcycles to augment the National Society's limited means of transportatio n.

The Spanish and German Red Cross Societies both contributed to the appeal on a bilateral basis; the German Red Cross financed the second shipment of zinc sheeting and nails that was used to repair damaged homes throughout the country, while the Spanish Red Cross purchased items for two hospitals that were affected by floods. Multilateral funding was provided through donations from the National Societies of Canada, Japan, Hong Kong Monaco, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States .


The Cuban Red Cross maintained close coordination with the provincial and municipal branches involved in disaster response, and has worked in close cooperation with the government authorities and state bodies that make up the Civil Defence system. The Civil Defence, assisted by the Red Cross, evacuated more than a million people from high risk areas, taking 77,275 to temporary shelters. The coordination committee facilitated the compilation and analysis of information and the coordination between institutions and governments. Coordination was ensured with NGOs, PNSs, community leaders and beneficiaries , as well as with the regional delegation in Santo Domingo (a sub regional office as of January 2003) and the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU). In addition, the Cuban Red Cross mobilized approximately 4,000 volunteers to assist in the relief effort.

Once the hurricanes had passed, the coordination committee began evaluating the damage and identifying the primary needs. Needs assessments were carried out through beneficiary surveys that took place in close

collaboration with local government offices and community organizations. Red Cross volunteers participated in the needs assessments, helped beneficiaries to clear debris from their homes, and removed fallen trees and mud left behind by the floods. Volunteers also held community talks addressing hygiene and vector control, emphasizing the importance of boiling water. Government and municipal authorities assisted by providing transportation and fuel in order to facilitate the distribution of relief goods. The CRC also worked closely with Ministry of Health on sanitation projects.

Objectives, achievements, impact

Damage and needs assessments were carried out by a team of specialists from the Cuban Red Cross and a member of the Federation's regional delegation. This team conducted interviews with local authorities and community members, which helped them to identify the most affected areas. The major damage incurred was to houses, particularly roofs. Despite preventative measures taken, many members of the population lost their personal goods because of tidal surges. Crops were also seriously affected by the hurricanes, particularly those crops that are the mainstay of the Cuban economy, such as tobacco, plantain and rice.

The evaluation team also visited shelters housing evacuated families, where they discovered that beneficiaries were in need of personal and household articles. The Red Cross gave priority to sanitation and psychological first aid in the shelters, helping to maintain sanitary conditions and providing food and water. It was determined that Red Cross assistance would focus on some 500 families whose houses had been affected by the hurricanes in 6 selected municipalities. By the end of the relief operation, the CRC had assisted in repairing 1,362 houses, including completely repairing the roofs of 150 houses and rebuilding 20 homes. In addition, 1,586 families benefited from the distribution of hygiene and household articles.

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