article atm-icon bar bell bio cancel-o cancel ch-icon crisis-color crisis cs-icon doc-icon down-angle down-arrow-o down-triangle download email-small email external facebook googleplus hamburger image-icon info-o info instagram left-angle-o left-angle left-arrow-2 left-arrow linkedin loader menu minus-o pdf-icon pencil photography pinterest play-icon plus-o press right-angle-o right-angle right-arrow-o right-arrow right-diag-arrow rss search tags time twitter up-arrow-o videos

Suggested Content

EXTREME WEATHER

Do you have an emergency plan? Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other extreme weather events such as wildfires, drought, extreme heat and cold are becoming a fact of life and the destruction from these catastrophic events goes beyond individual homes and health centers; they may completely destroy neighborhoods and entire communities in a few hours or even minutes or they inflict other deadly consequences. Extreme weather warnings in many States are happening with increased frequency, threatening storms, floods and fires of the highest level of intensity – a harsh reminder that emergency planning is more and more critical to survival. The time to Get Ready is Now.

Extreme Weather Season

Extreme weather is rapidly becoming the expected norm. The 2022 fire season is underway in the U.S. as we await the start of the 2022 hurricane season. The 2021 hurricane started early as Subtropical Storm Ana formed early in the morning of Saturday, May 22, becoming the first named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season and marking the seventh consecutive year in which a named storm formed prior to the official start of the season (June 1).

And with the start of hurricane season, major flooding will soon follow along with extreme heat. The long track of Hurricane Ida in 2021 gave us a stark experience of the wind and water damage that these extreme storms can generate.

The brutal and historic onslaught of tornadoes in the Midwest and South has added another dimension to the extreme weather patterns. A storm cell that lasts for a matter of minutes can cause destruction that means years of recovery.

We are always ready to respond if and where we are needed. Keep an eye on the weather map (it is interactive so you can move to another ocean area) and before the next hurricane season rolls in (just weeks away) And this year the forecasting tools will be stronger and more precise. Read more about the “hurricane track cone.”.

Fire season is already active in the U.S West and Southwest as the pause between seasons becomes shorter each year. You can check the latest activity by clicking on this Wildfire Map link. And above all else, Get Ready Now.

The Ramos family returns to the ruins of their home

Hurricanes, Tornadoes…

The 50+ inches of rain that flooded Houston with Hurricane Harvey, the fury of Hurricane Maria devastating Puerto Rico, the path of Hurricane Dorian that struck the Bahamas with such force, the monstrous EF-5 tornado that leveled Moore, Oklahoma, the swath of destruction cut by Typhoon Haiyan through the Philippines stand as testimony of the escalating threat from “100 year storms/floods.”  The savage tornado outbreak in Kentucky, Tennessee and four other states, destroying entire towns and killing more than 80 people, raises the threat level from extreme weather. As the hurricanes form in the warming ocean and the storm cells produce tornadoes, it’s past time to Get Ready Now.

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. 

TORNADOES

A deadly funnel appears, giving only minutes of warning; the incredible power of the wind vortex can literally tear apart anything above ground.

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 water borne disease outbreaks, as well creating conditions for deadly mudslides. 

Disasters caused by extreme weather events over the past 20 years almost doubled to 6,681 from the 3,656 that occurred in the previous 20 years. Read more.

In the 2020 Hurricane Season there were 30 named storms. Thirteen became hurricanes, including six major hurricanes with 12 named storms making landfall in the United States – the most active season on record.  Of the year’s storms, 9 were classified as “rapidly intensifying,” tying a record set in 1995 and matched in 2010. These types of storms are happening more often, leaving people with less time to prepare. 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.

During the 2021 Hurricane Season, Hurricane Ida left a path of death and devastation, followed by Storms Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Peter, Rose, Sam and all the way to Wanda. The 2021 season became only the third in history to use all of the names on the rotating seasonal list (the previous years were 2020 and 2005). The season ended with 21 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

And in 2021 a different extreme weather threat proved deadly in Texas. The 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.

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. The early summer deadly heat wave hammering the Pacific Northwest has killed dozens of people with temperatures rising past 120 degrees in some areas, as the extreme heat buckled roads and melted powerlines. And this year parts of northern and central India recorded their highest average temperatures for April. Delhi has already recorded a temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. These record temperatures are especially deadly for the working poor.

Next hurricane season is only days away and it may well be early. Check in with the National Hurricane Center for regular updates on storm activity. But don’t wait. Get Ready Now.

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.

Responding to Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) in the Philippines

Drought & Deadly Wildfires

Now extreme weather is manifesting itself in the form of record drought conditions that produce famine in some parts of the world.  Here in the U.S. drought followed by high winds and then combined with such phenomena as insect infestations in forest lands and manmade causes including land management and building code practices or electrical accidents have created some of the worst wildfires on record in California and in parts of the Southwest. As is often the case with extreme weather events, manmade factors can complicate and amplify the destructive force of the event itself. The Camp Fire in northern California in late 2018 became the worst fire in the state’s history killing more than 80 people and destroying thousands of homes. The 2019 “fire season” brought another round of deadly fires to the state and again in 2020 more fires raged – a lethal combination of drought conditions and man-made causes. The 2020 fire season far surpassed previous years and fires still burned even after the official end of the season.

In another year of severe drought and record extreme heat, the 2021 fire season was devastating with fires burning in as many as 15 states at the peak of the season, including two fires east of Phoenix, AZ that burned more than 100,000 acres in less than a week. During the Pack Creek Fire near Moab, Utah, Americares provided supplies for the Moab Free Health Clinic as poor air quality affects patients and staff. Oregon’s Bootleg Fire consumed more than 400,000 acres as the second round of heat waves has seen dozens of fires ignite across Western States. The Dixie Fire in Northern California consumed over one million acres and is the second largest in the state’s history. The Caldor Fire expanded rapidly and threatened communities, leading to more evacuations as the fire crossed into Nevada and approached the Lake Tahoe area. The Alisal Fire near Santa Barbara was the most recent threat in California before the heavy rains arrived. And past the normal end of the season, a sudden and enormous outbreak in Colorado burned hundreds of homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of people as extreme weather continued to create conditions for fires across the western U.S.

And already in 2022, fires have burned across Arizona, Nebraska and New Mexico. The New Mexico fire is the state’s largest recorded wildfire in modern history at 300,000 acres and growing. California, Colorado and Texas are seeing fires of increasing size and intensity. The fire season starts earlier and is lasting longer each year.

Then we face the deadly results of extreme heat which is actually a top weather killer – sometimes after a storm where power and access to clean water are lost – as happened in Louisiana after Ida. Heat 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. Climate change continues to intensify the deadly results of extreme weather events. Photo by Gene Blevins / REUTERS

Nebraska Floods

Epic Floods

In 2019 Americares emergency teams responded to major flooding disasters caused by major storms in Africa and the central plains of the U.S. Cyclone Idai followed by Cyclone Kenneth devastated Mozambique and then carried more death and destruction to Zimbabwe and Malawi, putting nearly 1,900 square miles underwater. Record rainfall and continued violent storms, spawning dozens of tornadoes in the U.S. Midwest brought historic flooding to Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and other surrounding states, covering entire communities and caused massive damage to farms in the region. And in 2021, floods devastated some of the most vulnerable areas in the South. Lake Charles, LA, for example, that was so heavily damaged by Hurricane Laura in 2020, suffered major flooding from heavy rainfall in the region.

Extreme weather does not spare even the most developed and wealthy regions as evidenced by the deadly and unprecedented floods in Western Europe, particularly in Germany where nearly 200 people died and many more went missing. In China, in what experts described as the heaviest rains in 1,000 years, deadly floods affected more that 1.2 million people. In Tennessee, dozens died as historic rainfall inundated communities with flash floods that swept houses and lives away. In India, the state of Maharashtra was hit by the heaviest July rainfall in four decades. And the remnants of Hurricane Ida unleashed historic rainfall levels in the Northeast U.S. where the speed and severity of the flooding killed dozens of people. 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.  Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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:

Generators and/or fuel to run them along with rapid resupply of lost medicines. Tetanus and chronic diseases are life threatening without vaccines, medicines and supplies.

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 Hurricanes

Louisiana Flooding: Emergency Response Update From the Field
Kate Dischino, AmeriCares Director of Emergency Response, just returned from the greater …
How Hurricane Katrina Inspired a Career and Built a Network
The events of Hurricane Katrina inspired my career in nonprofit emergency management. …
When the Rains Come, What Happens Then?
An AmeriCares team arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, just 48 hours after the …
A grandmother tends to a hurt child.
An injured child being attended to by a doctor.
vintage photo of an Americares field vehicle

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.  In 2020 and again in 2021, we faced the enormous challenges of responding in the midst of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic. Our commitment remains the same: to respond where help is needed.

Americares worker loading medicines and supplies

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 manmade 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