|Severe Tropical Storms Preparation and Response - Case Study Text (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1991, 58 p.)|
|Part Two: Disaster and Response|
The initial impact and its aftermath had a number of immediate secondary effects throughout the area.
There was a rumour, which swept the national stock exchange on the afternoon of the 5th October, that the new container marshalling port had been seriously contaminated by the breakage of a shipment of used transformer oil, containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs - a highly toxic chemical, which is extremely hard to clean up). This was erroneous; in fact a container was damaged, and it did contain a toxic substance (tetra-ethyl lead - shipped contrary to regulations). But there was little leakage, and a safety team from the oil refinery provided adequate advice and assistance to the local fire brigade. However, the rumour added to the general atmosphere of uncertainty and concern, and the stock exchange index lost 20 percent of its value that afternoon.
More immediately serious in welfare terms was the impact of continuous rain, and flooding of the main route from the major port of Sotorino inland to Suremia - the neighbouring country - which had just experienced a serious influx of refugees. A large shipment of food aid, including bagged wheat, and drums of oil had just arrived and had been offloaded to the quayside three days before the Cyclone made landfall. A large convoy had already been dispatched. The convoy was halted for six days by flooding and landslips on the road north into the mountains. The tarpaulins of the vehicles proved inadequate, and much of the food was drenched. Meanwhile, on the quayside, where bags were stacked unpalleted, and where the available tarpaulins failed to cover the stacks, the wholly unanticipated levels of rain ruined at least half the 15000 tonne wheat shipment.
Flooding of routes proved very disruptive to international road traffic. This was exacerbated by the loss of one bridge on the main international route, at Oketo. It took nearly fourteen days to reopen this route, when the Army built a pontoon bridge.
The most immediate, and in the longer-term one of the most damaging, effects of the initial impact was the loss of future tourist trade. News of the disaster spread quickly within the travel industry, exacerbated by rumours of serious breakdowns in the governments handling of tourists emergency needs in the affected area. The outcome was an immediate flood of cancellations by travel agents, and the abrupt suspension of negotiations for room space during the next tourist season.
Cost of Damage
It would be several months before even a preliminary comprehensive estimate of the costs of damage had been made. However, within a few days aerial surveillance clearly indicated that up to 30 percent of buildings in the Provinces of Akutan and Kylinia had been damaged to some extent, and some 40,000 housing units (mostly low-income families) had been destroyed completely. Preliminary estimates of losses, compiled by the Government, with help from UNDP, World Bank, and OFDA, were an estimated $450 million in public facilities and infrastructure, $350 million in housing, $240 million in agriculture, $130 million in tourism, and $260 million in manufacturing.