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Central America flooding: CWS situation report - 24 Oct 2008

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CHURCH WORLD SERVICE EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROGRAM

SITUATION: Heavy rains from a recent tropical depression have caused flooding in the Central American nations of Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Among the worst-affected nations is Honduras, where the government declared a state of national emergency on 23 October; some 193,000 persons there have been affected by the floods and 23 people have died as a result. Some 19,800 are in shelters; more than 340 houses have been destroyed and 4,300 damaged, according to the United Nations.

The UN reports that the rains in Honduras have led to landslides in the central and western parts of the country, as well to the overflow of the Tocoa River in the department of Colon and to floods in agricultural-farm areas of the department of Atlántida, specifically the municipalities of Arizona, Esparta and La Masica. The department of Valle has been affected by the rise in the Choluteca River, the UN reports, and the Ulua River has overflowed and has flooded the municipalities of Pimienta, Potrerillos and Progreso in Yoro. The rise of these rivers has forced evacuation of vulnerable communities, many of them along river banks.

In Guatemala, rains have caused flooding in the regional department of Petén, in the northern part of the country - specifically the municipalities of La Libertad and Sayaxche, Action by Churches Together International reports. The overflow of the rivers Usumacinta, Salinas and Pasión has inundated families land plots and destroyed crops such as maize, beans and chili. One fatality has been reported, and a total of 2,152 families have been affected.

RESPONSE: CWS is supporting the response work of partners in the region, including ACT members Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), through the ACT forum in Guatemala. ACT members have provided food kits to 75 affected families in the villages of El Pescador, La Unión, Elena, Santo Domingo and Roto Nuevo. The kits include 1 pound of maize, a blanket, a poncho, a mosquito net, two water buckets and a water purifier.

Due to ongoing rains, LWF has concluded that 1,477 additional kits are needed. ACT Members in Guatemala are currently preparing a request to the CWS-supported ACT Rapid Response Fund.

In Honduras, ACT members and CWS partners -- including Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM) and Christian Commission for Development (CCD) -- have distributed food aid and supplies of water to affected populations in at least four regions of the country. Assessment teams have been deployed by partner organizations to evaluate the damage and identify the needs of the population.

CWS partners in Nicaragua are also preparing a response.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding please visit www.churchworldservice.org or call the CWS Hotline, (800) 297-1516.

CWS Emergency Response Program special contacts: (212) 870-3151

Program Director: dderr@churchworldservice.org