Caribbean: Guatemala/Belize - Hurricane Iris OCHA Situation Report No. 7

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 11 Oct 2001


Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2001/0208
OCHA Situation Report No. 7
Hurricane Iris - The Caribbean
Guatemala / Belize

11 October 2001



Source: www.lonleyplanet.com

Guatemala

Situation

1. The United Nations Resident Coordinator’s office in Guatemala informs that Hurricane Iris, which landed in Belize on 8 October 2001, brought heavy rains in the northern parts of Guatemala, particularly the Departments of Peten, Zacapa and Quetzaltenango, according to the National Authority for Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED). Emergency Operation Centers were established in Peten, Coban (Dept. of Alta Verapaz) and Puerto Barrios (Dept. of Izabal in the Caribbean coast).

2. The following information on damage/impact has been reported:

San Luis (Peten)

8 persons lost their lives

1,287 families affected

708 housing units destroyed

621 housing units damaged

26 school buildings damaged

Poptun (Peten)

1 person injured

452 housing units damaged

No electric supplies/telephone services

Bethel (Peten)

10 persons injured

25 housing units destroyed

Puerto Barrios (Izabal)

150 persons in temporary shelters

Punta de Manabique (Izabal)

The deck/platform partially destroyed

National Response

3. Damage assessment is underway in Coban, Poptun, Puerto Barrios and Punta de Managique.

4. In Puerto Barrios, the Guatemalan Red Cross branch assisted in the evacuation of the villages of Quetzalito, Laguna and Pinalitos near the course of the Motagua River, and 240 people were accommodated in shelters by the departmental authorities and CONRED. Following an assessment, it was ascertained that only minor damage had occurred, enabling those in the shelters to return home.

Belize

Situation

5. According to PAHO/WHO, it is estimated that approximately 50,000 are likely to have been directly affected (total population of Belize: 235,789 in 1999). There are reports of some communities left isolated, approximately 3,000 people in the south, due to the damage to roads and bridges.

6. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) made a joint Belize Red Cross/IFRC reconnaissance mission by air and ground on 10 October. Rice, cacao, coffee, banana, corn and papaya crops have been destroyed as well as most food stocks. The hurricane also destroyed electricity lines, disrupting pump-delivered water supplies and posing a health threat.

7. According to PAHO/WHO, noticeable contamination from flooded septic tanks, latrines, solid waste dumpsites and oil and gasoline spills has been reported. The Toledo District Hospital suffered roof damages. The impact of the hurricane on mental health is apparent in a high level of distress, anxiety and helplessness among villagers and local authorities in the affected area.

National/International Response

8. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team arrived in Belmopan on 10 October. (Five members: OCHA, UNDP/El Salvador, Civil Defense/ Nicaragua, National Disaster Management Office/Haiti and the National Emergency Management Office/Belize).

9. Upon arrival, the UNDAC team met with the Disaster Assessment Committee of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT). It was agreed that the UNDAC team would assist in coordinating /validating damage and needs assessment, and advising on the identification of donors. Information gathered by the UNDAC team will be shared with NEMO and UNDMT. Three members of the Team will participate, together with NEMO, UNDP- Belize and UNICEF, in a two-day damage and needs assessment mission to the affected areas of the Stann Creek and Toledo districts in the southern Belize.

10. The Government of Mexico, through the Ministry of Health, has fielded two medical teams and post-hurricane medical supplies. USAID/OFDA has contributed USD 100,000 for immediate relief needs of the affected population.

11. Information on contributions to this disaster may be found by clicking on Financial Tracking on the OCHA internet website, www.reliefweb.int.

12. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, on relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item. Donors are encouraged to notify OCHA Geneva of their contributions to this disaster using the OCHA Standardised Contributions Recording Format, available electronically on OCHA Internet Website at www.reliefweb.int

13. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed. Funds should be transferred to:

Bank name: Chase Manhattan Bank, NY

Address: International Agencies Branch
1166, Avenue of Americas, 17th floor
New York, NY 10036-2708 USA

A/C name: United Nations Geneva General Fund
A/C: 485-001802
ABA Code: 021000021 (US Banking Code)
Swift Code: CHASU33

Reference: OCHA - Belize - Hurricane Iris

14. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int.

CONTACTS

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

Desk Officers:
OCHA Response Coordination Branch:
Mr. E. Haegglund / Ms. M. Kondo
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 32 99 / 1997

Press Contact:
Ms. E. Byrs, Direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653 (Geneva)
Ms. Phyllis Lee, Tel:+1-212- 963 4832 (New York)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.