Disasters in 2014 – A Review

  • In the Philippines last year, some 5.8 million people lost their homes because of a constellation of disasters.
  • Typhoon Haiyan alone displaced some 4.1 million, with others forced out by typhoon Trami and an earthquake.
  • Africa also saw widespread displacement by rainy season flooding in Niger, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan.
  • America did not go without disasters, with nearly 220,000 people losing their homes to tornadoes in Oklahoma.
  • The storms in the United States in ahead of schedule 2014 alone brought on insured losses of Us$1.7 billion, while a spate of storms the nation over in May cost an alternate Us$2.9 billion.
  • Storms and substantial rains in Mexico brought by Storm Odile created guaranteed misfortunes of US $1.6 billion, while a wind and hail storm disaster that struck parts of France, Germany and Belgium in June cost US $2.7 billion.

According to Swiss Re’s preliminary sigma estimates, total economic losses from natural disaster and man-made disasters were $113 billion in 2014, down from $135 billion in 2013. Out of the total economic losses, insurers covered $34 billion in 2014, down 24 percent from $45 billion in 2013. This year’s disasters have claimed around 11,000 lives.

Insured losses of $29 billion were triggered by natural catastrophe events compared with $37 billion in 2013. Man-made disasters generated the additional $5 billion in insurance losses in 2014.

This year started with extreme winter conditions in the US and Japan and, as the year drew to a close, the Northeast US was once again gripped by very low temperatures and heavy snow. The storms in the US at the beginning of 2014 alone caused insured losses of $1.7 billion.

Natural disasters caused $106 billion of the estimated total economic losses, down from $126 billion in 2013. The report notes that the figure is well below the average annual $188 billion loss figure of the previous 10 years. The total loss of life of 11,000 from natural disasters and man-made disasters events this year is down from the more than 27,000 fatalities in 2013.


In Europe, a series of small loss-inducing weather events hit different countries at the beginning of the year. One of the major disasters was wind and hail storm Ela in June, which caused significant damage to properties and vehicles in parts of France, Germany and Belgium, resulting in overall insured losses of $2.7 billion. Bulgaria was also hit by hail activity in June. Other severe weather events were heavy rains and flooding in the UK, Serbia, Croatia, Italy and France at different times during the year. In contrast to the heavy rains in many areas, others were suffering from drought conditions. For example, some areas in China had a very dry summer, leading to severe drought conditions that affected agricultural output. The loss estimates for these events are not yet known.

Tornadoes were fewer in number this year. The National Weather Service verified just 720 tornadoes through August, making this year the lowest in tornado numbers since 2006. Like hurricanes and tornadoes, flooding also declined in 2014. Total flood damage this year is expected at around $4.2 billion, well below the long-term average of $5.3 billion in losses.

CoreLogic points out that in the first six months of this year, the percentage of flood damage from flash flooding rose from an average of around 40% to 71%, with a flash flood in Detroit causing more than $1.1 billion in damage. It has also been reports that 18.6% of the continental U.S. experienced a hail storm with pellets three-quarters of an inch or larger in diameter. That is more than 930,000 square miles.

Haiti’s Department of Civil Protection in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has been working non-stop to assist flood-affected families in the northern city of Cap-Haitien and other neighbouring towns following heavy rains, floods and landslides that killed 17 people, five of them children. More than 15,000 houses were flooded, 90 were destroyed and 800 were severely damaged. Over 6,500 people are temporarily housed in emergency shelters.

The recent floods have also affected over 2,200 hectares of crops in one of the country’s most fertile areas.To mitigate the impact of floods and other natural disasters, UNDP and the Haitian Government have also planted close to nine million trees and worked with farmers to plant more resistant crops that prevent erosion. In addition, flood mitigation measures have been improved, using watershed management tools and protecting riverbanks.

Several earthquakes struck California this year, with the most intense being a 6.8 shaker offshore of Humboldt County and a 6.0 quake that rattled the Napa Valley wine country in August. CoreLogic noted the increase of earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in Oklahoma, which the U.S. Geological Survey has linked to the injection of waste water in deep disposal wells associated with oil and gas production.

Following are some among other disasters that occurred in 2014 and resulted in significant loss in investment and lives.

Hurricane Arthur – 2014

In the spring of 2014, weather forecasters predicted that the United States would experience from three to six hurricanes in this year’s June through November hurricane season, out of a total of eight to 13 named storms. In fact there were eight named storms and six hurricanes, including two major (category 3, 4 or 5) hurricanes.

Only Hurricane Arthur made landfall in the United States and it was a speedy and relatively mild blow. Although Arthur remained offshore, large scale northerly flow from the west side of the cyclone sparked scattered severe thunderstorms across Florida for several days. Effects from these storms were generally minor with damage amounting to only $23,000. On July 3 however, one storm produced straight-line winds estimated at 70–80 mph (110–130 km/h) and caused two barns to collapse near Elkton. Arthur caused power outages impacting at least 44,000 customers.

A few weeks after the storm, a severe outbreak of fire blight, a bacterial infection, occurred in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, affecting as many as 80 percent of the Valley’s apple orchards. The storm was blamed for causing microscopic cracks in leaves, which allowed airborne bacteria to enter the plants.

The Salvation Army in Washington, N.C. prepared and provided meals at a shelter in Chocowinity, N.C. The service was in partnership with the American Red Cross. In addition, a request was made to mobilize a canteen (mobile feeding unit) to Ocracoke Island, N.C. if needed. The Salvation Army is continuing to monitor the situation and will be assessing Hurricane Arthur’s impact in its communities.

Northern Cameroon: Cholera Outbreak, 30 July 2014

More than 1,200 cholera cases have been reported from northern Cameroon as of 24 July, including more than 200 deaths. According to the Minister of Public Health, Logone-et-Chari and Mayo Sava are the hardest hit areas. The weekly caseload increased 18% between 21 and 26 July. The first three cases were reported in late April in the Far North region of Cameroon, and involved a Nigerian family who had crossed into Cameroon to receive treatment. Neighboring Nigeria has seen an increase in cases since September 2013: 24,683 cholera cases have been reported in Nigeria between the beginning of 2014 and the first week of July.

In terms of cholera response, UNICEF and WHO are the key agencies for providing assistance to the sufferers and survivors and fulfilling the Need for humanitarian assistance.

The Cameroon Red Cross warns that unless resources are deployed to handle the outbreak, there could be a repeat of the 2010 epidemic that killed more than 4,000 people. The high mobility of people affected means the disease is spreading across regions.

Morocco: Flash Floods – Nov 2014

Heavy rainfall starting on 21 Nov 2014 has caused widespread flooding in Morocco. As of 28 Nov, 117,000 people were affected and 36 deaths had been reported. At least 140 houses built of adobe were destroyed and 100 roads were cut off. Further rainfall between 28-30 Nov caused seven deaths. A report issued by the Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Logistics indicated 25 road cut and hundreds of archways threatened by floods.

Since the start of the floods the Moroccan Red Crescent, through its regional and local committees, was present immediately on the sites mobilizing and organizing the intervention teams, and establishing close contact with the central headquarters to report on the needs assessment. The first aid posts were established in close coordination with health authorities in the different provinces. The Moroccan Red Crescent disaster preparedness programme and contingency plan which takes into account the most likely flooding scenario it maintain basic preparedness stocks and regional disaster response teams ready to intervene in case of emergencies. The National Society had a relief stock available for 2,100 families.

Central America: Drought – Mar 2014

The lack of rain since the middle of 2014 resulted in the loss of staple grain crops and death of thousands of cattle in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and to a lesser extent in areas of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Loss of maize and bean crops range from 54 to 75% in Honduras and about 75% in Guatemala. The most vulnerable population are families of subsistence farmers, labourers and landless farmers, who are characterized by low income, with limited access to land, basic health services and education, and difficulties in obtaining the basic food basket. Data from governments and assessments carried out by humanitarian actors indicate that about 2.5 million people are at risk of food insecurity. The UN System has mobilized financial resources and is supporting affected countries in coordinating emergency response plans. US$2.6 million were funded for response in Honduras.

Typhoon Hagupit – Dec 2014

Typhoon Hagupit (known locally as Ruby) made its first landfall in Dolores municipality, Eastern Samar province as a category 2 at 9:15 p.m. on 6 December)with maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h and gusts of up to 210 km/h according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Hagupit made a second landfall in the morning of 7 December. Communication lines and electricity have been damaged and roads are impassable around the affected areas. The extent of the typhoon’s impact remains unclear. Preliminary reports from the field indicate localized flooding and wind damage. Humanitarian organizations based in Borongan City, Located 70 km south of Dolores, also reported significant damage in the coastal municipalities north of the city.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Eastern Samar is clearing roads and airports and field engineers from private telecommunications companies have been deployed to restore telecommunications networks

The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) have pre-positioned personnel in the potentially affected areas with teams deployed to support existing offices in Borongan City. Relief supplies including emergency shelter, food and non-food items have been strategically stored in Manila, Cebu and Cotabato City and are available to be deployed upon the request of the Government. Additional logistics support may be required to distribute the supplies to multiple islands. Upon request, unmanned aerial vehicles have also been made available for Government use in the conduct of the initial rapid needs assessment. On 6 December, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator on behalf of the HCT reiterated the offer of international support to the Government. The Government will respond to the offer based on assessed needs.

List of some of the other significant disasters that occured in 2014 are as following:

  • Tropical Storm Jangmi – Dec 2014
  • Malaysia: Floods and Landslides – Dec 2014
  • Maldives: Water Crisis – Dec 2014
  • Cabo Verde: Fogo Volcano – Nov 2014
  • Indonesia: Floods and Landslides – Nov 2014
  • Bolivia: Drought – Oct 2014

 Aftermath of disasters in 2014

Major natural disasters that occurred in 2014 have severe negative short-run economic impacts. Disasters also appear to have adverse longer-term consequences for economic growth, development and poverty reduction. But, negative impacts are not inevitable. Vulnerability is shifting quickly, especially in countries experiencing economic transformation – rapid growth, urbanization and related technical and social changes.

In the Caribbean and Bangladesh there is evidence of both declining sensitivity to tropical storms and floods and increased resilience resulting from both economic transformation and public actions for disaster reduction. The largest concentration of high risk countries, increasingly vulnerable to climatic hazards, is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Risks emanating from geophysical hazards need to be better recognized in highly exposed urban areas across the world because their potential costs are rising exponentially with economic development.

Natural disasters have caused significant budgetary pressures, with both narrowly fiscal short-term impacts and wider long-term development implications. Reallocation is the primary fiscal response to disaster. Disasters have little impact on trends in total aid flows.

The impact of natural disasters on tourism has been more profound during the last year and this can be attributed to the changing weather patterns around the world as well as the increased number of tourist spots. Today, more and more natural reserves and areas that were once inhabitable are being made accessible to attract tourists. Though this gives a boost to the local tourism, it also increases the impact of natural disasters. In fact, natural disasters cause many tourist destinations to lose their beauty, culture and economy for a temporary or extended period of time. The scale of the damage depends to a large extent on the fury of the natural disaster.


One study on tourism industry explores the cost of extreme weather disasters to the tourism industry, taking the Taiwan Maolin National Scenic Area as an example. The paper evaluates the economic damage caused by typhoon Morakot.The study finds that the entire park lost over 700,000 visitors in the year and a half after the disaster, representing a loss of NT$1.39 billion in tourism business – a value three times the infrastructure loss.

However this being the disaster review of 2014 concludes that disaster would continue to occur in 2015 as well which deems it important for us to take preventive measures today in order to safeguard ourselves and our families from the wake of such disasters in later days. Natural disasters have a negative impact on the economy and on the people who depend on it for livelihood. In October Japan sought to revitalise international tourism to the country by inviting 10,000 visitors to accept a free airline ticket to Japan on the condition that they write positive remarks in blogs or other agreed media about their visit.

For this reason, it is important to have a disaster plan in place when nature strikes with her fury. In order to prevent yourself and your family from getting handicapped due to unpreparedness, Crisis Prevention and Restoration for Business offers its services and expertise for devising crisis communication plans to handle communication management. For benefiting from our expertise, contact Crisis prevention and business restoration by calling us at: 415.891.9107 or emailing us at: CPR4BIZ@gmail.com