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Extreme weather events are on the rise and threaten more communities. The science tells us that as temperatures increase, extreme weather conditions occur, intensifying the individual event. Americares brings relief to people in crisis following a disaster by providing essential medical aid and relief supplies, health care, including mental health and other vital services. We are determined to help the communities most vulnerable during extreme weather events. We are always at the Ready to Respond when and where disaster strikes, and you should be, too. Do you have an emergency plan

Get More of the Facts About Climate Change from NASA

Extreme Weather Events

The Global Temperature continues to rise and Extreme Weather Events are now the new norm, producing more deadly weather patterns.

Extreme heat is creating deadly conditions in more regions with the worst impact on vulnerable populations. Drought is causing water crises.  A once annual fire season now sees fires burning year-round.

“Tornado Alley” has moved eastward from the midwest to southern states. Hurricane season starts earlier and stays longer bringing the frightening power of more intense tropical storms!! The United States experienced 28 disasters last year that each cost at least one billion dollars, the highest total on record. Those disasters, tallied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, include the wildfire on Maui in August; Hurricane Idalia, which hit Florida later that month; and Typhoon Mawar in Guam in late May. The list also includes four flooding events, two tornado outbreaks, a heat wave, and 17 severe weather and hail events.

In 2022, our team in Puerto Rico responded to catastrophic flood damage from Hurricane Fiona. Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida with frightening power and we responded. Major flooding followed after Hurricane Ida came through. The worst monsoon in over a decade created epic flooding in Pakistan  and led to hundreds of deaths.

To prepare for extreme weather events in the “danger seasons,” we have learned from decades of experience to Get Ready Now. And keep an eye on the weather map on this page (it is interactive so you can move to another ocean area).

Get the Five Steps and Be Ready

The Ramos family returns to the ruins of their home

Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods…

Latest Flood Report: An extreme weather front that brought floods to Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, has proven deadly in Libya, causing the failure of two dams and killing thousands. Americares responded.


Hurricane activity and other extreme weather events left their mark this year as the Hurricane Season officially ended.

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods are intensifying with alarming speed and unleashing destruction on an unimaginable scale. The tornado season peaks in the spring and the hurricane season follows in June and extends through November. As the hurricanes form in the warming ocean and storm cells produce more tornadoes and flash flooding, it’s past time to prepare for extreme weather events. Get Ready Now.

At Americares we see up close the staggering magnitude of extreme weather losses for families and communities – the personal history and common goods. Access to medicine security and to health services become early casualties as emergency responders rush to provide the basics of food, shelter, clean water and hygiene in the first days. We know that immediate access to primary health services, including mental health support, along with medicines and medical supplies will save lives and restore health. Working with local partners, governments and other nonprofits to meet immediate needs, we then help survivors rebuild health facilities and services and restore hope for the future. No matter where extreme weather disasters strike, we are there and together with our partners, even in the worst times, we can make health happen. See in the video below how communities in El Salvador have developed a warning system for flooding from Extreme Weather events.

HURRICANES

While high winds cause great damage, storm surge can be the most deadly threat for coastal areas, along with major flooding from torrential rains. These storms can be tracked for days, however, and preparations can be made that save lives.  As the season lengthens, the areas that are at risk of hurricane strikes continue to expand – see this interactive map in the Washington Post.

And what about typhoons and cyclones? Physically, they are hurricanes by a different name. They are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and in the Eastern Pacific, typhoons in the West Pacific and cyclones around Australia and India.

TORNADOES

A deadly funnel appears, giving only minutes of warning; the incredible power of the wind vortex in an EF-5 tornado can literally tear apart anything above ground. Important to pay close attention to your local warning system and to have a safe place to shelter below ground level quickly when a warning is heard. When the threat of tornadoes appears, having a safe shelter readily accessible could save lives.

There were nearly 500 tornadoes reported in the first 3 months of 2023, nearly double the average for that time period. The U.S averages 1150 tornadoes per year and the threat has moved eastward creating even more deadly potential.

FLOODS

While major floods are often “slow moving disasters,” flash floods catch people unprepared in cars or at home. Flooding rivers and broken dams can sweep away entire communities particularly in low lying areas. Floods also contaminate water supplies, leading to waterborne disease outbreaks, as well creating conditions for deadly mudslides. 

The effects of flooding are often exacerbated by human activity (i.e. building in flood zones, inadequate infrastructure, loss of wetlands and increasingly climate change). Where is the greatest flood risk in the U.S.? Click here to see a map of areas at risk.  

CalFire firefighting team sets a backfire along a dirt road.

Extreme Heat, Drought & Deadly Wildfires

The Latest Report: It is official; 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded. Average temperatures were 1.48 degrees Celsius, or 2.66 Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, according to an announcement by Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitor. The previous record was in 2016.

Extreme heat (temperatures that are 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more above normal) kills nearly twice as many Americans each year as tornadoes and almost three times more than hurricanes. It is particularly deadly for the elderly and the poor in many countries around the world. Air pollution on top of record temperatures substantially increases the deadly health risks for the affected countries.

Extreme weather from global warming is manifesting itself in record drought conditions that produce famine in some parts of the world.  Here in the U.S. drought has contributed to the worst wildfires on record in California and in parts of the Southwest in the last three years. Visit the wildfire map for the latest fire activity. Check out the U.S. Drought Monitor to see the true extent of current drought conditions. And in 2023, Canada has confronted an unprecedented wildfire season.

Additionally, wildfire smoke has resulted in unhealthy air quality across the western US. And in another twist of extreme weather, “atmospheric rivers” brought record floods and snow in California to areas already ravaged by drought and wildfires.

Americares has partners in all the affected states and has conducted wildfire response activities annually.

Click on the arrow and watch the video on the impact of extreme heat driven by climate change affecting the most vulnerable.

 (Photo by David Royal)

Recent History of Extreme Weather

As 2022 drew to a close, a massive winter storm in the United States, led to at least 60 deaths and wide spread power outages. Such storms remind us that hurricane season is not the only time that historic storms can impact large areas and thus good preparation has never been more important.

The extreme weather threat also means extreme temperatures, heat and cold. In 2021, the deadly Texas Cold Weather Crisis starkly demonstrated the impact that extreme weather can have on communities and basic infrastructure that have not adequately prepared for potential weather disasters. The past summer and coming 2023 winter has already raised concerns about the Texas infrastructure and its ability to handle demands from extreme heat and cold weather conditions over an extended time – a challenge for other states as well as climate change adds more stress on the power grid.

Currently, the World Health Organization tells us that heat waves are considered among the most dangerous of natural hazards but rarely receive adequate attention because their death tolls and destruction are not always obvious. From 1998 to 2017, more than 166,000 people around the world died because of heat waves. Check out the areas of the U.S. most at risk from extreme heat in the New York Times U.S. Heat Tracker. And parts of northern and central India recorded their highest average temperatures for April 2022 and the cycle is repeating this year. Delhi recorded a temperature of 116°F. These record temperatures are especially deadly for the working poor. Read more about the development of “extreme heat belt” in the U.S. And in times of extreme heat, people with respiratory conditions are particular vulnerable to the accompanying reduction in air quality. For a current assessment of air quality in your region visit AirNow.gov.

Even as the hurricane season ends, don’t wait until the next season. Get Ready Now.

Years to Recover

In the 2020 Hurricane Season there were 30 named storms – the most active season on record. The 2021 season became only the third in history to use all of the names on the rotating seasonal list. The devastation left in the wake of multiple storms takes months, even years to restore and rebuild, and communities with the least resources are the ones facing the greatest challenges. Americares continues to support communities long after the storms have passed.

Extreme Threats

Extreme weather events create some specific challenges for Americares Emergency Response Team and our health care partners, and good planning provides response solutions. Building Resilience in the health system as the threats from climate change multiply becomes more and more critical. For example:

Abstract graphic of a shelter

Threat:

Wind and subsequent water damage to roof, windows and doors of the facility — destroying equipment, medicine & supplies, rendering the facility inoperable when it is most needed.

Response:

Provide emergency repairs or a temporary facility, restock medicines/supplies, replace equipment and then build back better. And beyond repairs, the next step is to help build Climate Resilient Health Centers.

Abstract graphic of a power loss

Threat:

Loss of power and thus loss of medicines that require refrigeration such as insulin and vaccines.

Response:

Solar Power and/or Generators with fuel to run them along with the rapid resupply of lost medicines. Tetanus and chronic diseases are life threatening without vaccines, medicines and supplies. In Puerto Rico for Hurricane Fiona, solar power made a difference.

Abstract graphic of an map

Threat:

Loss of access to ongoing health care due to remote location and/or infrastructure damage. A particular threat to people with chronic disease, expectant mothers and children.

Response:

Send emergency medical teams to communities and house-to-house if necessary to provide primary health care and referrals for specialized care.

Abstract graphic of an evacuation

Threat:

Evacuations to temporary shelters or to makeshift camps.

Response:

Hygiene kits, emergency medicine and supplies for those who had to flee quickly without their personal belongings or medications. Supplies such as mosquito bed nets, insect repellant, water purification and cleaning materials and tetanus vaccine are also important for those who return to their homes in the aftermath and face possible water and vector borne diseases and cleanup injuries.

Abstract graphic of an hug

Threat:

Trauma and other extreme stress for survivors including health workers in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Response:

Trained health workers to identify trauma and support programs for those most at risk, and especially support for health workers who are often survivors themselves.

As we get ready for the next super storm, we know that we can’t do it without you.

Please help your neighbors near and far with a gift right now.

Our Work:
Responding to Extreme Weather and other Disasters

A grandmother tends to a hurt child.
Colombia clinic health worker taking blood pressure of young woman
Americares staff member delivering medicines

Protecting the Vulnerable

Americares has expanded and deepened emergency programs to meet the formidable challenges of storm destruction on an ever-larger scale. We actively engage with our partners in regions particularly at risk for these storms to prepare for the next one by building greater resilience and capacity in each local health center and for every health worker. And in storm-prone regions, we often seek out and serve the most vulnerable members of a community – children, elderly, the very poor, single-parent families, expectant mothers and those with chronic disease. A person with diabetes will still need insulin after the storm and a mother about to give birth will still need a safe place to deliver. Emergency teams constantly evaluate and deploy new tools and programs that target local concerns and needs. The growing demand for mental health support in disasters has led to offer more mental health services to meet those needs. Better weather forecasting and tracking of storms allows us to deploy a team early, connect with our local partners and respond more rapidly when the storm strikes.  But even with better technology, we have learned to “expect the unexpected” in each disaster and be ready to adapt to conditions on the ground and respond accordingly.  Beginning in 2020, we faced the enormous challenges of responding to extreme weather events in the midst of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic. Our commitment remains the same: to respond where help is needed.

We Expect
Extremes

Emergency programs at Americares represent a continuous cycle of ReadyRespondRecover and then get Ready again, only better. Each disaster presents a new set of challenges to lay the foundation for a better response the next time around.  It is a dynamic process, ever changing as more extreme weather and unforeseen crises arise – always demanding that we increase our knowledge and capabilities. In that work, we are ever mindful and incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of our individual and corporate donors along with the presence of local partners who have the ground sense and skill necessary to meet the challenges and often only lack resources to prepare for them.

Mother and Child at a shelter
satellite photo of a hurricane