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Security Brief: EMH2 Week of November 15, 2021

Week of Monday, November 15, 2021 | Issue 36

Jade Patel, Benjamin Maher, Chandlyr Mickan, Alyssa Schmidt, Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff; Cassandra Townsend, Senior Editor


Previous Flooding, Washington[1]


Date: November 16, 2021

Location: Washington, USA

Parties involved: United States Coast Guard (USCG); Local fire departments; Washington Governor Jay Inslee; Canadian Government; Red Cross; Washington residents

The event: Washington state has declared a state of emergency after territorial floods occurred in over 14 counties within the Northwest region.[2] Weeks of adverse weather hit a breaking point with rivers overflowing and thousands without access to electricity. Rescue efforts are underway to take displaced survivors to safety within other states and Canada.

The implications:

  • The high amount of rain in the past month is likely to make recovery difficult and is almost certain to cause long term damage. Overflowing rivers leading to territorial floods is likely to make the damage worse. The recovery period for destroyed homes and infrastructure will likely displace residents and employees for multiple weeks or months. Alternative shelter and offices will be necessary until recovery efforts are complete.

  • Road closures are likely to hinder emergency rescue efforts and increase the response time to those requiring aid. Civilians likely face an increased risk of running out of essential materials such as food and drinkable water, and the severity of emergencies increasing as emergency efforts must circumvent closed paths. Rescue support is likely the most effective method to ensure vulnerable civilians have enough resources. It is likely that the local municipality will need to adjust budgets to support the rebuilding of critical infrastructure.

  • Waterborne diseases are likely to increase because of the amount of stagnant water. Flooding is likely to increase the number of civilians exposed to this and will likely increase the risk of disease. It is likely that medical assistance will become limited for low-priority illnesses as emergency efforts focus on the most vulnerable. Road closures and damage to critical infrastructure caused by the flooding makes it very likely that emergency services will face delays. Without effective access to normal and emergency medications and treatments, illnesses are likely to worsen and have long term impacts.

  • Colds and flus are likely to increase in transmission as winter approaches. Situations where many people are gathered, such as in shelters or businesses, are likely to experience higher rates of transmission. With survivors being transported to surrounding states and Canada, it is likely that infection levels may increase because of overcrowding and resource sharing.

Date: November 16, 2021

Location: Kenya

Parties involved: Kenyan government; Residents of Kenya; Educators; Kenya Meteorological Department; Kenya Wildlife Service; Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis; Baringo County Environment Chief Officer Richard Ruto; Geothermal Development Company

The event: Kenyan homes and schools have been left submerged by water after Lake Baringo overflowed into the nearby community.[3] Those impacted were evacuated to nearby camps, with many being internally displaced. In the past, the lake had not overflowed to a point where the threat impacted local communities to a concerning level. Destruction from the overflow has impacted daily life, agriculture production, tourism, ability to generate income, housing, education, and the physical, mental, and medical safety of impacted civilians. Raised water levels are increasing crocodile and hippopotamus presence and attacks within the area putting communities at further risk of harm. Scientists studying the event and region from the Geothermal Development Company have identified a loss of services, socio-economic disruption, and ecological or environmental degradation due to increased flooding.[4]

The implications:

  • Residents forced to move to internally displaced people (IDP) camps are almost certainly adjusting to limited access to basic essentials and clean water. Those affected are likely to experience higher stress, increasing the likelihood of mental and physical responses to the trauma. Recovery and survival in IDP camps or other refuge will likely be difficult. Camps located in higher grounds are likely to experience lower risks of further complications caused by the flooding.

  • The increase in crocodile attacks due to the over-spilling of lakes are likely to continue. Rescue teams should remain aware of this threat and prepare operations in accordance with safe practice. The communication of natural threats such as crocodiles and hippos to response teams, government actors, assisting humanitarian groups, and individuals within the region would likely decrease the chances of emergency situations and medical necessity.

  • Local budgets are likely to be limited due to mitigating damage throughout the territory. It is very unlikely that there is a capacity for schools to be reopened once water levels decrease. It is likely that vulnerable communities will suffer from a lack of educational opportunities if school closures remain. This is likely to impact future generations’ access to education, as survival continually takes priority.

  • It is likely that as communities acknowledge new threats future safety precautions will be reviewed. Vulnerable community members are likely to remain at camps or near their current residencies, as they lack the financial or physical capacity required for safe travel or relocation. Isolated individuals will almost certainly be unable to utilize previously available resources, increasing the risk of poverty. Efforts should be made by government and humanitarian actors to ensure every community member affected by the changing water levels is accounted for and integrated into the recovery process.

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[1]NW Washington Flood” by theritters licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Torrential rains cause major flooding in NW Washington, governor declares state of emergency, KSBY, November 2021, https://www.ksby.com/news/national/torrential-rains-cause-major-flooding-in-nw-washington-governor-declares-state-of-emergency

[3]Baringo man treks 70km to force state to resettle flood victims, The Star, November 2021, https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/2021-11-14-baringo-man-treks-70km-to-force-state-to-resettle-flood-victims/

[4] Close to 76,000 families displaced by swelling Rift lakes, The Star, November 2021, https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/rift-valley/2021-11-18-close-to-76000-families-displaced-by-swelling-rift-lakes/

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