Central America: Floods Emergency Appeal No. MDR43004

Glide No. FL-2008-000198-HND, NIC, CRI, SLV, BLZ, GTM

This Preliminary Emergency Appeal seeks 1,110,911 CHF (USD 1,015,550 or EUR 707,586) in cash, kind, or services to support the National Societies of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to assist 30,000 beneficiaries. This operation is expected to be implemented over 9 months, and will therefore be completed by 30 July, 2009; a Final Report will be made available by 30 October, 2009 (three months after the end of the operation).

CHF 271,000 (USD 247,715 or EUR 172,611) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 20 October 2008 to support the National Societies. Unearmarked funds to replenish DREF are encouraged.

Summary: Since 16 October, 2008, a series of severe meteorological events have been affecting the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, with heavy rains and floods affecting approximately 215,000 people in these countries. Houses and public infrastructure were damaged and crops were lost. Based on this situation, this preliminary appeal responds to a request from the National Societies of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua and focuses on supporting a timely and appropriate response, through the delivery of essential emergency relief items, and on completing damage and needs assessments for early recovery activities (shelter, water and sanitation and other sectors). Further rain is foreseen for the coming days in this region, which may make the situation worse

The situation

The countries of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador have been affected by heavy rain due to tropical depression number 16. A stationary low pressure system has been producing showers and thunderstorms, and heavy rains will continue over parts of Guatemala, Honduras and the Yucatan peninsula over the next few days.

In Honduras, torrential rains across the entire territory caused flash floods and mudslides, damaging or destroying bridges and roads, and forcing people out of their homes. Latest reports indicate 18 people are dead, five are missing and approximately 200,000 people are affected, of which 22,143 people have lost their homes. To date, 37,397 people have been evacuated. In regards to infrastructure, reports indicate 5,379 houses, 157 roads, two water systems and four bridges have been damaged. Emergency shelters for 19,836 people have been opened and are being managed by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Honduras (Comite para la defensa de Derechos Humanos de Honduras - CODEL) and the Municipal Emergency Coordination Commission (Comite de Desarollo Municipal - CODEM).

The Ministry of Education cancelled school activities in the northern department of Cortes until the red alert is rescinded. In the western departments, including Ocotepeque and Copan, houses and schools have been destroyed and the potable water system was shut down. The Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) has issued a warning to the people living in the most vulnerable areas to evacuate immediately.

The entire country has been affected, especially the central and western areas. Crops in the northern departments of Colon and Atlantida have sustained damage, due to the overflow of the Tocoa River. The southern department of Valle was affected, due to the rise in the Choluteca River. Moreover, several communities in the northern department of Cortes and Yoro are flooded, due to the high levels of the Ulua River.

In Guatemala, 10 days of intense rains have affected 570 families, approximately 2,862 people, among 20 municipalities. Rivers have overflowed, flooding and affecting more than 19 municipalities. Preliminary reports indicate severe damage in the agricultural and housing sectors. To date, 24,332 people were affected in this emergency. The livelihoods of more than 5,000 families have been compromised and 7,540 people have been evacuated and found refuge in 15 temporary shelters. The government of Guatemala requested the supply of food items for the families in the temporary shelters, through the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) for the World Food Programme (WFP). The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has been carrying out damage and needs assessments

In Nicaragua, the intense rain has left four people dead and 10,633 people affected in eight departments, including Chinandega, Madriz, Esteli, Leon, Managua, Granada and Rivas. 22 emergency shelters have been opened, housing approximately 1,500 people, while the rest are staying with friends and family. The department of Chinandega, which is 95 percent agricultural, has lost all its crops due to the floods. The members of the emergency centre (SINAPRED) are coordinating all emergency activities in their region.