Belize: Tropical Depression 16 Flooding - Situation report No 1

Report
from UN Country Team in Belize
Published on 24 Oct 2008 View Original
This sitrep follows an initial briefing issued Thursday 23 October 2008 based on NEMO's Initial Damage Assessment Report.

Situation

1. The current flooding began as a result of heavy rains on 16 and 17 October as a result of Tropical Depression 16. Sections of Cayo District have been declared Disaster area. To date 24 communities have been significantly impacted, affecting around 38,000 people, many of whom are cut off from road transportation due to disruptions to the road networks. Around 400 people have been evacuated to shelters however many more are staying with relatives.

2. The Meteorological department warns that there will be heavy rains over the next two days, and that the peak of the flooding has not yet been reached. A tropical wave will be passing Belize tonight, generating more rain. Additionally, a cold front is moving down from Mexico and will reach Belize late Saturday/Early Sunday, creating strong winds and possible thunderstorms. Furthermore, flooded rivers coming across the border from Guatemala add to the impact. Waters in the Southern districts (Stann Creek and Toleda) are receding very slowly, however waters in central/western and Northern Belize (Cayo, Belize, Orange Walk, Corazal) are expected to continue to rise. Orange Walk, Belize and Corazal Districts are likely to be inundated over the weekend. The Meteorological Department estimates that it may take up to 3 months for the water to recede in some areas.

3. Livelihoods in faming, commerce and tourism have been severely affected, mainly as a result of interruptions to the transportation network. Initial damages (assessment for Cayo District only): (Belize Dollars)

  • Household Items - $ 500,000
  • Infrastructure - $ 3.2 million
  • Road networks - several million $
  • Agricultural sector - $ 8-10 million
Many of the people affected are subsistence or near-subsistence farmers who have lost their crops and may require food-related assistance for some time after the water recedes.

4. No related deaths or severe ill health have been recorded by NEMO, although some cases of diarrhea and cold/flu outbreaks are being reported. The Ministry of Health has medical officers in communities distributing water purification tablets and ORS.

National Response and UN Response:

5. The NEMO chair has declared all NEMO subcommittees 24/7 operational as of Friday 24 October. The UN is present at Foreign Assistance Committee and Relief and Supplies Committee meetings. UN staff are participating in damage assessments and have made technical staff available for further participation.

6. Detailed damage assessments are being undertaken, focusing especially on Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo Districts. Meanwhile, Initial Damage Assessments will be carried out for Orange Walk and Belize Districts. Detailed damage assessments for the entire country should be expected within the next 7 days.

7. The UN has created a consolidated list of supplies and materials available immediately, and has made this available to the Government, together with offers of technical assistance, vehicles and equipment for assessment purposes. The UNCT is further is analyzing the initial damage and needs assessments to ascertain the extent of additional assistance needed. It is expected that UN Agencies will be providing assistance in the form of various emergency as identified by the Government. PAHO is working closely with the Ministry of Health to address medical needs in the communities.

8. The Government has not ruled out the possibility of a need to request food aid, but has as yet not released figures as to the extent of this possible aid.

9. The Red Cross is distributing basic supplies including foodstuffs, emergency hygiene and cleaning articles, impregnated mosquito nets and household articles, supplied by the International Federation, to around 300 families in the Calla Creek area of Cayo district, and has been providing support to many other areas over the last days, in close coordination with NEMO.

10. The Government has released a list of priority assistance needs (below). It has been emphasized by the government that cash aid is preferred over in-kind donations due to logistical challenges and in particular the disruptions currently experienced in the road network.