Honduras and Central America: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 4

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 27 Oct 2008
This situation report is based on information received from, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) in the affected countries, the Regional Office in Panama, the UNDAC Team in Honduras and the National Hurricane Centre.

HIGHLIGHTS

- In Honduras, some 270,000 persons are affected by floods and landslides. A Flash Appeal is being prepared.

- In Guatemala, the number of affected persons has increased. The Government declared the state of calamity in another 7 municipalities in the departments of El Peten and Quiche.

- Water flooding from Guatemala is affecting Belize.

SITUATION

1. Tropical Depression No. 16 made landfall in northern Honduras on 16 October and has been slowly crossing over Central America causing heavy rains from northern Costa Rica to south-eastern Mexico. The system affected the countries of Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with heavy rains which led to flooding and mudslides.

HONDURAS

2. Due to a series of meteorological events in the past days (Tropical Depression 16, low depression and swell), the Government of Honduras declared a state of emergency on 19 October. These events caused rains of diverse intensity in the whole country but mainly in the central and western area. A great number of landslides were registered in the western and central part of the country. The Government has formally requested humanitarian assistance. The Red Alert remains in place in the municipalities of Corquín and Cucuyagua in Copan Department; Belén Gualcho in Ocotepeque; Pimienta, Villanueva, Potrerillos, San Manuel, Choloma y Puerto Cortes at Cortes Department; Tela at Atlantida Department; and El Progreso, Santa Rita and El Negrito at Yoro Department. A Yellow Alert is in place in the central district of Francisco Morazán. A Green Alert remains in place in the rest of the territory. Some areas are accessible only by boats. There is no rain announced in the next day, however a cold front is currently moving across the region.

3. According to the Permanent Commission for Contingencies (COPECO) latest information, 33 deaths were reported and some 270,500 persons have been affected. Approximately 42,234 persons were evacuated of which 38,600 are in shelters. More than 467 houses were destroyed and 10,000 are flooded or damaged. Some 100,000 hectares of crops have been lost. Approximately 50% of the roads are damaged or destroyed. Some 114 out of 298 municipalities are affected or 40% of the municipalities. Public health is an area of concerns even though no outbreaks have been reported. The main health concerns are gastrointestinal diseases and acute respiratory infections. Primary needs include portable latrines, water purification and household hygiene kits. PAHO/WHO reports that 14 potable water systems are damaged. There are currently no severe food security issues, but the next production will be affected. The government implementing measure to prevent speculation of the food prices. Damage in the transport infrastructure will impact negatively on the commercialization of the coffee production.

4. The COPECO is coordinating relief activities. The President of Nicaragua has assigned regions to the various ministries to strengthen coordination between COPECO, departmental and local authorities.

5. The UNETE was activated on 18 October, activating sectoral groups (or clusters). Inter agency Assessments are on-going in the South, North and West with the participation of the UN system, COPECO and Caritas notably. The result of the assessments will be available early this week. Various Sectroral working groups are working using the cluster approach principles: Health (Lead: PAHO/WHO); Water & Sanitation (lead: UNICEF); Education (Lead: UNICEF); Food Security & Nutrition (Lead: FAO), Shelters and Protection (lead: IOM; Early Recovery (Lead: UNDP); Logistics & Communications (Lead: WFP). The sector working groups are finalizing a CERF application and a Flash Appeal.

6. Requirements, as identified by COPECO, include:

- Portable latrines;

- Ambulances and 4X4 vehicles for the regions (these can be loaned);

- Potable Water plants;

- Massive medical attention in gastrointestinal diseases, IRAs;

- Specialists in dermatology;

- Energy plants;

- Geophysicists for slides evaluation;

- Communication node for cellular phones in bordering communities with El Salvador;

- Kerosene Stoves;

- Aerial recognition flights;

- And Food and hygiene kits, blankets and mattresses.

The main sectors to be prioritized are:

- water and sanitation

- public health

- shelters

- agriculture and food security

- infrastructure.

7. The international community has offered assistance to Honduras and find attached below a table detailing a list of contribution. WHO is reprogramming regular funds in order to mobilize medical teams and to purchase emergency and general medicines. PAHO/WHO has also mobilized regional experts in water and sanitation, disaster management and the SUMA deployment. Three teams have been sent to the field to carry out an inter-agency assessment in the most affected areas in the North, West and South parts of the country.

8. WFP has distributed 58 MT of food to more than 5,500 families. WFP, in coordination with COPECO, CODEM (Municipality Emergency Committee) and other partners, continues to monitor the situation and carry out assessments to provide assistance to the affected population. WFP has organized missions to the affected areas and needs an additional 2,500 MT of food through the regional PRRO. WFP is also contributing up to USD 142,000 in cash assistance. UNICEF distributed pre-positioned supplies through COPECO and is planning the rehabilitation of the affected water systems and school infrastructure. UNICEF also plans to preposition family hygiene kits, emergency health, education, and cooking kits, as well as blankets and has allocated a USD 120,000 in immediate cash assistance. Mercy Corp is distributing food, blankets and NFIs to families. IOM is dispatching an expert in shelter; MSF is sending a health experts team, while BCPR is deploying an early recovery advisor. FAO, WFP, UNICEF and UNDP are also sending technical personnel, while UNDP has provided USD 150,000 in cash contribution.

9. USAID/OFDA provided USD 50,000 to COPECO and CARE through USAID/Honduras for the procurement of emergency relief supplies. COPECO also utilized USD 25,000 of previously stockpiled relief supplies, provided by USAID/OFDA and USAID/Honduras, to respond to immediate needs. In addition, a disaster specialist was deployed to Honduras to further assess the effects of the floods. Spain, through PAHO, has released USD 30,000 for immediate disaster relief and through AECI has allocated EURO 100,000 for the purchase of relief items in cooperation with COPECO. Argentina has offered technical support; ECHO is assessing the damage, while France will contribute through ECHO. The IDB is making available USD 200,000 for humanitarian assistance. Other donors, such as El Salvador, Mexico, Sweden, Canada, ADRAS, World Bank, Germany, OAS, JICA and Taiwan are considering assistance, pending feedback on damage assessments.

10. The UNDAC team being deployed by OCHA is focusing on information management with the support of RedHum in ROLAC, and on rapid needs assessments. OCHA allocated USD 60,000 in emergency cash grants, in addition to other support on resource mobilization. IFRC is assisting 2,000 families with hygiene kits, kitchen sets and food and is deploying experts in disaster management, communication and shelter.

COSTA RICA

11. Since 13 October, precipitation levels were the highest in 40 years and reached up to 2,100 mm, causing rivers to overflow and landslides. On 18 October, the Government declared a state of emergency after state agencies reported many areas had been affected by heavy rain and floods. The provinces of Guanacaste in the northern Pacific and Puntarenas in the central Pacific are the most affected. According to the latest information, 7 deaths were reported; some 470 communities were affected; 92,000 people are affected and 65 shelters were opened housing 3,096 persons. More than 18,500 persons have been directly affected. Some 1,400 houses and 171 roads were flooded or covered by mudslides. All main roads located in the northern and southern regions of the country are blocked due to landslides. Some 89 communities are experiencing electricity cuts. OCHA allocated an emergency cash grant of USD 30,000 to respond to the most immediate needs of the affected population, while PAHO is distributing emergency health kits. The Costa Rican Red Cross (CRC) is updating the information obtained from the affected regions. Some communities remain isolated. The CRC volunteers are conducting damage and needs assessments in the communities and are distributing relief items to the emergency shelters and to families that have not left their homes. Coordination meetings are held among regional supervisors to define all relief actions.

NICARAGUA

12. The Government has declared a green alert for the whole territory, except for San Juan de Limay (yellow) and the municiplities of León, Quezalguaque, Telica, Larreynaga, El Sauce, Achuapa, Santa Rosa del Peñón, El Jicaral, Nagarote, La Paz Centro, Chinandega, El Viejo, Puerto Morazán, Somotillo, Santo Tomás del Norte, Cinco Pinos, San Pedro del Norte, San Francisco del Norte, Villanueva, El Realejo, Corinto, Chichigalpa and Posoltega (red alert). Nine deaths have been now reported. On 18 October, preliminary reports indicated that at least 11,433 people have been affected in 8 departments (Chinandega, Madriz, Esteli, Leon, Managua, Granada, Rivas among others); more than 17 emergency shelters are now open, housing around 1,800 people while the rest are staying with family and friends. Some 16 houses were totally destroyed and 1,331 are damaged. Food for those in shelter is a priority. The emergency centre (SINAPRED) is coordinating all emergency activities, assisting in shelters and updating information. The Government has not requested additional resources from the UN to respond to the emergency. Some NGOs are visiting the shelters to evaluate the facilities and living conditions. The Nicaraguan Red Cross (NRC) is participating in coordination meetings and deployed staff to the affected areas to provide support and start assessment activities. The UNETT is continuing to closely monitor the situation. UNDP has allocated USD 5,000 and UNICEF has delivered items amounting to USD 3,000.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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