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Updated every Friday.

Monday, August 19, 2019

World Humanitarian Day Special Edition


2019 World Humanitarian Day campaign: #WomenHumanitarians

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on August 19th to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

This year’s campaign on Women Humanitarians supports the recognition that women deserve in the strengthening of global humanitarian response as well as in protection efforts under the international law.

We salute all humanitarian organizations and the men and women who sacrifice their time and put their lives and physical integrity at risk to help those in need of assistance all around the world. We especially salute women humanitarians in the Americas and recognize the efforts of the OAS Member States in working together to provide relief and humanitarian assistance in the face of disasters. The Disasters This Week Editor

Rebuilding the future: the role of humanitarian aid in climate resilience. Increased flooding, for example, is not just caused by storm surges and increased rainfall, but also by poor infrastructure. Food shortages following environmental disasters are not only caused by killed livestock and destroyed cropland but also poverty. Likewise, the likelihood of injury due to building collapse increases where there is a lack of education and a lack of access to communication technologies...Read more

Humanitarian assistance to be scaled-up for millions of Venezuelans in need. A collective effort to coordinate and intensify the ongoing humanitarian response, the plan aims to significantly mitigate the impact of the crisis on the country’s most vulnerable populations...Read more
National Preparedness Month. This NPM will focus on planning, with an overarching theme: Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters... Read more

Friday, August 16, 2019

16th August


What happened this week?

New mapping reveals Lost West Coast Estuary Habitat. A team of scientists applied new technologies and data to identify and estimate the historic reach of nearly 450 West Coast estuaries. Their results show that the estuaries historically extended far beyond where they exist now... Read more.

Interesting Facts

Scientists studied 2,500 coral reefs to figure out how to save them. An international group of scientists has surveyed more than 2,500 coral reef systems across 44 countries to determine how to save them in the face of damage caused by climate change and humans, according to a new study...Read more


Partners Respond to Ongoing Outbreak of Coral Disease in Florida. Here is a description of the problem, what NOAA and partners are doing in response to the problem, and how you can help... Read more.


Policy Developments and Outlook





The Sargassum Scourge. Floating on the open seas, sargassum provides a lush, vital habitat for marine life—what one oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, calls the “golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean.”...Read more.

Friday, August 9, 2019

9th August

What happened this week?


Mississippi Levee system breaks after major flooding. The former record was “The Great Flood of 1927,” which the Memphis Commercial Appeal called “the greatest flood in history.” According to The Advocate, this flood led to an upgrade to the nation’s flood control system. The flood destroyed levee systems in place and flooded 2,700 sq miles of land, which displaced more than 700,000 people in seven states, the U.S. Geological Survey said. ...Read more.


Weekend heavy rains damage Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and SacatepequezIn the village of Santo Domingo, San Martín Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango, a flash flood caused by the collapse of drains caused slight damage to a house, leaving 2 people affected and 1 homeless. Proceeded to coordinate with municipal personnel to clean the area and repair drains...Read more.

Interesting Facts

Severe Weather Safety Guide Flash Flooding. A reference guide from National Weather Service...Read more


Policy Developments and Outlook

Flood-resilience works in Castries South East. Much-needed relief is on the way to residents of Castries South East as local contractors bid to implement drainage and slope stabilization works... Read more


Farmers across Iowa and Nebraska are feeling the effects of climate crisis.  Some farmers are taking unusual and innovative measures to continue growing food. ... Read more

Friday, July 26, 2019

26th July


Interesting Facts

Resilience defines a community in wake of natural disasters. The hits just seem to keep on coming. For America's farmers, it feels like it's been one natural disaster after the next... Read more.

Remarkable Communities that Create Systems Change after DisasterA little less than two years ago, Judith Rodriguez was one of the roughly 50,000 people living in the mountain town of Cayey, Puerto Rico when it was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The deadliest storm to hit the United States, or its territories, since 1900 left a lasting impact on the island... Read more.

Policy Developments and Outlook

Canada embraces Dominica’s ambition to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation.  Canada and Dominica have had a strong development partnership for many decades. On Monday, Canada made a further contribution of CAD$3 million to the government of Dominica to support the operations of the Climate Resilience Execution Agency of Dominica (CREAD)... Read more. 


Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters:  In 2019, there have been 6 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included 2 flooding events and 4 severe storm events... Read more.

Friday, July 19, 2019

July 19th

What happened this week?


Damming A Possible Solution To Drought Woes. 
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, has revealed that his ministry is considering building dams in some agricultural areas heavily impacted by drought conditions...Read more.


Warming climate intensifies summer drought in parts of U.S., study findsThe researchers found that in places with low moisture in the soil, such as the southern plains and southwest, higher temperatures brought about by climate change led to an increased "coupling" of land and atmosphere...Read more.


Interesting Facts

Climate change is very real, but so much of it is uncertain.  You start with the big picture of a warming planet, but as you zoom in you find ever more climatic and geological and biological systems interacting with one another—a complexity unfathomable for the human mind...Read more. 


Policy Developments and Outlook

Tropical Storm Barry tests Louisiana's multi-billion-dollar post-Katrina flood defenses. “It's the first time that it has been fully operational…that we've had all flood gates closed…all pump stations operational…so it was really a test”...Read more. 

Global Platform for disaster risk reduction 2019: Proceedings - Resilience Dividend: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Societies
The world’s top disaster risk reduction thinkers and practitioners, policy makers, government officials and other stakeholders met to debate and discuss how to reduce disaster impact..Read more.

Friday, July 12, 2019

July 12th

What happened this week?

The science behind California’s two big earthquakes.  On the morning of July 4, a magnitude 6.4 rocked Southern California, fracturing roads and sending people fleeing to safety. But that wasn’t all the Earth had in store: Less than a day and a half later, a powerful magnitude 7.1 temblor shook the region...Read more.


Ridgecrest earthquakes caused damage to Earth’s crust seen from satellite. Damage to the earth’s crust from the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that struck Southern California last week is visible in a kaleidoscopic satellite image released by NASA... Read more


Interesting Facts

What is an earthquake?, how are they measured?, how are they detected?, how can damage to buildings be reduced?, what are the recommendations to be followed before, during and after an earthquake? Mexico's national civil protection system points out that it is key that people living in risk areas live in houses designed responsibly and complying with anti-seismic standards, that residents know first hand the contingency and evacuation plans and have at hand a survival suitcase with documents, first aid kit, radio, flashlight, food and a whistle... Read more



California's governor says an earthquake alert system is on the way. Here's what you need to know. "The community here is going to rightfully expect that the state of California has their back, that the federal government has their back," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Saturday press conference... Read more



Policy Developments and Outlook

Earthquake insurance: Is it worth it? There’s no way of sugarcoating this: Earthquake insurance is expensive. It can double the cost of covering your home, adding an average of $800 a year in premiums... Read more








Friday, May 3, 2019

May 3

What happened this week?


Bolivia – La Paz Landslide Leaves 3 Missing and Over 40 Houses Destroyed. The Mayor of La Paz, Luis Revilla, declared a disaster situation in the areas affected by the landslide, including 14 de Septiembre, Inmaculada Concepción and San Jorge Kantutani. As many as 46 houses have been completely destroyed and 18 more damaged, leaving almost 400 people displaced, according to local media reports..Read more


Natural Disasters Monitoring in Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala - May 2, 2019. Chile Ministry of the Interior and Public Safety (ONEMI), reported heavy rain affected the following seven communes. On El salvador Civil Protection reported heavy rain affecting 144 homes... Read more

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that numerous Michigan localities received over 5 inches of snow. Folks in Michigan may have been shocked to wake up on the first day of May to see a blanket of snow outside their windows. Areas in the upper tier of Michigan, around Lake Superior, received several inches of snow on Wednesday. It is not that unusual for the region to get accumulating snow in May, according to Walker. It occurs one out of nine years... Read more


Interesting Facts


New Ocean Reports tool brings ocean data to your fingertips. Now, when users outline any area in the U.S. EEZ using the OceanReports tool, they can get detailed information about habitats and species, industries in the area, potential hazards such as undersea cables or shipwrecks, economic value of ocean commerce, and other detailed oceanographic information... Read more



Humans can be blamed for droughts, and they're about to get worse, study says. The research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, finds that greenhouse gases generated by power plants, farming, cars, trains and human activities in general have influenced the risk of droughts... Read more



Drought Affects Panama Canal Shipping.This year’s El Nino weather pattern brought a drought to Panama. The lack of rain has lowered the level of the country’s Gatun Lake, a major part of the Panama Canal. The Canal Authority’s move restricts how deeply ships can reach below the surface. That means large ships, mainly from the United States and China, must pass through with less cargo... Read more


Policy Developments and Outlook

Air Forces of the Americas: Ready for Disaster Response. From April 3-12, the Argentine Air Force’s (FAA, in Spanish) 4th Air Brigade, located in Mendoza province, hosted the humanitarian assistance exercise Cooperation VI (Cooperación VI). Thirteen member nations of the System of Cooperation among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA, in Spanish) participated in the international virtual training event..Read more


Friday, April 26, 2019

April 26


John Sanbrailo, 1943-2019


We mourn the loss of John Sanbrailo, former Executive Director of the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF), who passed away peacefully in his home in Vienna, VA on Saturday, April 20. John dedicated 18 years of his long career in international development leading the efforts of PADF in Latin America and the Caribbean. His appointment in 1999 as PADF Chief Executive Officer coincided with the establishment of the Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR) by the OAS General Assembly, as the principal forum at the OAS for matters relating to natural disasters and for the purpose of providing the Permanent Council with strategic thinking, paying special attention to policies and programs designed to reduce the vulnerability of Member States. John never missed a meeting of the Inter-American Committee and never stopped advocating for the role of the General Secretariat of the OAS in facilitating the international response that Member States provide in solidarity to one another. He will be missed.


The Disasters This Week Editor


Remembering John

Throughout his astounding career, John inspired his friends and colleagues, and he will be remembered affectionately. “We are mourning the loss of such a steadfast supporter of Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Kristan Beck, Chief Operating Officer at PADF, “but we are celebrating John’s incredible life. His dedication to improving lives was evident not only in his extensive career accomplishments but in his daily interactions with those around him.”... Read more

His life and collaborations until becoming the Executive Director of the Development Foundation (PADF) - John Sanbrailo. For his work in the U.S. foreign aid program, John received Presidential Awards for supporting the El Salvador Peace Accords in 1993 and restructuring the Honduran economy to make it more export oriented, creating thousands of new jobs in the 1980s and 1990s. He directed a large USAID program to reconstruct the north coast of Peru after devastating El Nino floods during the 1980s... Read more


The definition of democracy of John Sanbrailo in April of 2015. The dream of the Foundation is to see an active participation of society, which is, in their opinion, the definition of democracy. "Democracy is not expressed, only, through voting every few years. He expresses himself daily with people participating in their society, "said Sanbrailo... Read more



"John, you will remain in our memory"

Thursday, April 18, 2019

April 19

What happened this week?

Severe Thunderstorms With Damaging Winds, Tornadoes, Flooding Rain Will Sweep Through the South, East Through Friday. Parts of the squall line produced wind damage overnight. Trees and power lines were downed in Henderson, Texas, about 120 miles east-southeast of Dallas. One semi was blown over by high winds on Interstate 45 in Leon County, Texas..Read more



Interesting Facts


The end of California's drought could mean fewer cases of West Nile virus. Drought is the most important weather-related factor that affects the rate of West Nile infection, scientists say. Mosquito eggs need water to hatch, but dry conditions tend to spur greater transmission of the virus... Read more

Areas hit by tornadoes on Saturday are at risk for more today.Over the weekend, a massive storm system killed eight people in the South and caused damage from Texas to Mississippi. Four people died in Texas, two in Louisiana, one in Mississippi and another in Alabama... Read more

Guatemala: Volcanic Eruption 6-Month update DREF n° MDRGT013.On 3 June 2018, Guatemala's 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) Fuego Volcano erupted, killing 165 people, leaving 260 people missing and injuring 27 people. The volcano emitted an 8-kilometer (5-mile) stream of hot lava and a dense plume of black smoke and ash that blanketed Guatemala’s capital,Guatemala City, and other regions.... Read more



Policy Developments and Outlook

Global Floods Caused $8 Billion in Economic Losses During March – Aon Catastrophe Report. Aon’s “Global Catastrophe Recap – March 2019” said that among the costliest events were those that hit parts of the Midwest of the USA in March, where states including Nebraska and Iowa saw record breaking floods. Aon says that total economic losses were estimated at more than $4 billion, with up to $1 billion in claims... Read more

Friday, April 12, 2019

April 12

What happened this week?

One month of rain in just four hours: Downpours cause floods, kill at least 10 in Rio de Janeiro. RIO DE JANEIRO — Heavy rains killed at least 10 people and left a trail of destruction in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, raising questions about the city’s preparedness to deal with recurring extreme weather..Read more



Natural Disasters Monitoring April 11 2019 by Paho. On 10 April, the COEN in Peru, reported recent heavy rain causing floods where communication networks and educational institutions were affected.10 April, the Venezuela Civil Defense reported wildfires in the Macarao National Park where 200 hectares of land was burned. On 11 April, the Guatemala CONRED reported that El Fuego Volcano generated 18 to 22 moderate explosions..Read more

Interesting Facts

Weather or Not: April most active for tornadoes in the ArkLaTex. April is the most active month for tornadoes in our area. According to the National Weather Service, 70% of all tornadoes happen in the ArkLaTex between March and June. Why exactly is this?... Read more


Fact or fiction? A green sky means a tornado is comingIs it true that a green sky means a tornado will be touching down any minute or is that just a long-standing myth? While it is not uncommon for severe weather to accompany a rare green sky, there is also no direct correlation between the two... Read more



You might not have noticed, but about 25 meteotsunamis hit the East Coast each year. According to local news reports offsite link, the waves then crashed into a jetty where they knocked people into the water, causing injury and property damage. Eyewitnesses reported seeing waves as high as 6 feet. But how? There had been no earthquakes or underwater landslides in the area... Read more




Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019.The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) released its April through July fire predictions for the country, and the report shows that Western Washington will be more prone to fires than usual over the coming months. While Western Washington, including Puget Sound, will have a higher risk of fires, much of the risk in Eastern Washington remains average..Read more

Policy Developments and Outlook

U.S. hit with two billion-dollar disasters so far in 2019.  The so-called bomb cyclone that brought heavy snow, blizzard conditions and major flooding to the Midwest in March landed with a resounding meteorological “ka-boom!” and became one of two billion-dollar weather and climate disasters this year... Read more



Friday, April 5, 2019

April 5


What happened this week?


Peru – Thousands Hit by Floods in San Martín and Junín Regions. Several rivers overflowed in Junín region in the central highlands of Peru from around 29 March, 2019. Heavy rain has also caused landslides in the region. Emergency authorities say that 1,800 people have been affected in the province of Chanchamayo... Read more


Emergency declared after flooding in Paraguay's capital due to heavy rain. More than 20,000 families across Paraguay have been affected by severe flooding from two weeks of heavy rain that caused the country's main river to burst its banks, a senior official said Wednesday as an emergency was declared in the capital Asuncion...Read more


Flood, floods, floods and more floods. Natural Disasters Monitoring. Since the report of March 19, the number of affected families has increased in many countries of South America due to heavy rains and landslides. An overflow of the Gurupi River caused the evacuation of several families, affecting 650 people in Brazil. We will share with you this week's monitoring... Read more


Interesting Facts

Weather or climate change? In the last month, we’ve had three nights ranging from minus 18 to minus 22, so we can expect to hear this trumpeted by some as proof positive that global warming (climate change) is a hoax. But that of course is wrong and here’s why. What we experienced last week is nothing more than “weather,” experienced on one tiny part of Montana, on one really tiny part of the earth... Read more


California is overdue for a huge earthquake, seismologists say. Recent storms may have ended California's drought when it comes to water, but not when it comes to earthquakes, scientists say. The Golden State is in the midst of an earthquake drought. Seismologists are saying there haven't been enough powerful earthquakes in the past 100 years along California's highest slip-rate faults, and a ground-rupturing quake with a magnitude greater than 7.0 is overdue... Read more

10 Technologies That Help Buildings Resist Earthquakes. Over the last few decades, architects and engineers have devised a number of clever technologies to ensure that houses, multidwelling units and skyscrapers bend but don't break. As a result, the building's inhabitants can walk out unharmed and start picking up the pieces... Read more




Policy Developments and Outlook

Flood Control and Disaster Management. Flood control refers to all methods used to reduce or prevent the detrimental effects of flood waters (Wikipedia). Some of the common techniques used for flood control are installation of rock berms, rock rip-raps, sandbags, maintaining normal slopes with vegetation or application of soil cements on steeper slopes and construction or expansion of drainage channels... Read more