Libya Flood: Fast Facts

After intense rainfall collapsed two dams in a coastal Libyan city and unleashed devastating flash floods, thousands were killed and thousands more are still missing. Get the facts about the disaster and learn how you can help survivors through community-led relief efforts.


1. Storm Daniel triggered the Libya floods—and it’s one of the deadliest storms on record in North Africa.

More than 3,900 people have died in devastating floods in Libya, caused by Storm Daniel. Another 9,000 people are believed to be missing, and search and rescue efforts are ongoing. An additional 7,000 people in the hardest hit city of Derna were injured in the flooding.

As Storm Daniel pounded Libya’s coast with torrential rain on Sunday night, two dams outside Derna broke, and flash floods were unleashed down the Wadi Derna river. The deputy mayor of Derna reported that at least 20% of the city, home to 100,000 residents, has been destroyed. At least 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the city.

Daniel hit other areas in eastern Libya, including the towns of Bayda, Susa al-Marj, and Shahatt. On Monday, the Libyan Presidential Council declared the worst-affected areas a disaster zone. Hundreds of families were displaced and took shelter in schools and other government buildings in Benghazi and elsewhere in eastern Libya.
Source: Al Jazeera + ABC News + NBC News + CBS News + The Associated Press + CNN

Support community-led relief and recovery with a donation to GlobalGiving’s Libya Flood Relief Fund.

2. Ongoing political unrest is complicating the response to the floods.

The presence of two rival governments in Libya is slowing rescue efforts and affecting aid deliveries. The internationally recognized government is based in the western city of Tripoli, while the militia government has control of eastern cities, including Derna.

Relief supplies were shipped to Benghazi from Tripoli, but it is unclear how much aid has reached the most affected areas of the country or how the different authorities are coordinating search and rescue efforts. Derna is more than 180 miles from Benghazi, and only two roads into Derna remain usable—most roads have been cut off by flooding. Outside help started to reach Derna on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after the disaster struck.

Experts observed that, unlike the earthquake that shook Marrakesh without warning last week, Storm Daniel had impacted Turkey and Greece days before reaching Libya. That gave the country time to prepare. But instead of raising alarms, the authorities did the opposite and encouraged people to stay indoors.
Source: Al Jazeera + The New York Times + Reuters + The Associated Press

3. Libya’s weakened infrastructure put cities like Derna at risk.

After more than a decade of political chaos, Libya’s infrastructure has been poorly maintained. The dangerous state of the dams that collapsed had been reported to officials last year. Another dam in the region, the Jaza dam between Derna and Benghazi, is also on the brink of collapse.

Before the flooding, Derna had one functioning hospital, operating out of a rented villa. As the search for survivors of the Libya floods continues, morgues are full and recovered bodies are piling up in the streets and mass graves.
Source: The New York Times + The Associated Press + CNN

4. Libya is especially vulnerable to disasters caused by the climate crisis.

The warming waters of the Mediterranean have been contributing to sea-level rise, shoreline erosion, and flooding—a particular risk for Libya’s low-lying coastal areas. Warmer water feeds a storm’s heavy rainfall and makes it more ferocious.

Recent reports have warned that intense storm surges could cause widespread damage to infrastructure in the coastal areas of Libya, where most of the country’s population lives.
Source: The New York Times + United Nations

Support community-led recovery with a donation to GlobalGiving’s Libya Flood Relief Fund.

5. GlobalGiving partners are already on the ground helping survivors access food, shelter, and other emergency services.

GlobalGiving’s Disaster Response Team is working with responding partners to meet the immediate needs of Libya flood survivors and first responders. GlobalGiving partners are already providing food, water, and shelter. Once urgent needs are met, the GlobalGiving Libya Flood Relief Fund will transition to support community-led, long-term recovery efforts as needed.
Source: GlobalGiving Libya Flood Relief Fund

6. Cash is the best way to help people in need during a disaster like the Libya floods.

Why? Survivors’ needs vary greatly throughout the life cycle of recovery. Some will require financial support, medical care, and psychological assistance years down the road. You can learn more about the importance of cash donations in this infographic.
Source: GlobalGiving + USAID Center for International Disaster Information

Help communities hit hardest by the Libya floods through GlobalGiving and fuel community-led recovery.


Featured Photo: Floodwaters from Mediterranean storm Daniel are visible on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Scientists say the Mediterranean storm that dumped torrential rain on the Libyan coast is just the latest extreme weather event to carry some hallmarks of climate change by Associated Press/Jamal Alkomaty

Note: This article was originally published on September 13, 2023 at 7:53 p.m. and last updated on September 18, 2023 at 10:30 a.m.

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