Honduras and Central America: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 8

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 06 Nov 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

- Tropical Storm Paloma, previously Tropical Depression 17, has formed and affected new areas in Honduras. The number of persons affected has increased to almost 320,000. The Flash Appeal for Honduras is 8.8% funded and urgent support is needed to avert a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

- In Guatemala, the number of affected persons has also increased and reached 150,000. Rains are expected until the end of the month. The priority needs are for water and sanitation, health, food security and protection of the vulnerable population.

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. In addition to a cold front over the region, tropical depression 17, now Paloma, has formed and is now 100 kilometres from the south east of Cabo de Gracias a Dios. A tropical storm watch remains in effect from Puerto Cabezas Nicaragua northward to Limon, Honduras.

HONDURAS

2. Due to a series of meteorological events (Tropical Depression 16, low depression and swell), the Government of Honduras had declared a state of emergency on 19 October and formally requested humanitarian assistance on 20 October. In view of Tropical Depression 17, now Tropical storm Paloma, COPECO has declared the Red Alert in the Departments of Cabo de Gracias de Dios, in the North of Olancho, in the oriental part of Colon, as well as in the municipalities of Corquin, Cucuyagua, Copan, Belen Gualcho, in Ocotepeque; the Yellow Alert is in place in the rest of Colon and Olancho; the Green Alert is in place in the Departments of Islas de Bahia, Cortes, Atlantida, the north of Yoro and in municipalities along the rivers of Ulua in the Valley de Sula. This Depression is expected to bring some 100 to 200 millimetres of rains in these areas.

3. As the soil is already saturated, notably also as a result of a cold front over Honduras, these rains could lead to landslides and further flooding of the rivers in areas that were not previously affected. The humanitarian situation is constantly evolving. The Resident Coordinator is reporting that the number of persons affected has increased to 320,000, with over 70,000 directly affected and in need of shelter. Sixty persons lost their lives. The number of persons in need of food assistance is also increasing and some 50,000 persons could not be accessed as they remain in isolated communities. Some 100,000 of the affected populations have no access to safe drinking water, of which 35,000 are children. Approximately 51,000 children are not attending schools, as around 300 schools are used as shelters. Some 233 education centres have no electricity or water and need to be repaired. The Government is carrying out preventive evacuations.

4. COPECO is coordinating relief activities and continues its distribution of humanitarian aid to all those affected due to the heavy rains. Shelter, food and water and sanitation, as well as rehabilitation of houses and agriculture  are a priority. Public health is an area of concern as wells were contaminated due to landslides. Malaria and cholera are endemic in the region however no outbreaks were reported. Gastrointestinal diseases and acute respiratory infections are also a concern. Psychosocial support is required especially for children. Early recovery will also be needed to generate economic activities in the affected areas and rebuild houses. For those previously affected, returns are difficult as the population often finds their homes flooded or in need of rehabilitation. Hence the situation in shelters is very fluid.

5. The Government is preparing a recovery and rehabilitation plan that has been developed, taking into account the support on early recovery requested under the Flash Appeal.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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