Belize + 5 more

Central America: Floods Emergency Appeal No. MDR43004 Operations Update No. 2

Situation Report
Originally published


Period covered by this Operations Update: 31 October to 30 December 2008.

Appeal target: CHF 1,513,927 CHF (USD 1,388,924 or EUR 970,466).

Appeal coverage: 85%;

Appeal history:

- This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on a preliminary basis on 24 October, 2008 for 1,110,911 CHF (USD 1,015,550 or EUR 707,586); for nine months to assist 30,000 beneficiaries.

- 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.

- CHF 119,300 (USD 109,049 or EUR 75,987) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 28 October to support the National Society of Belize in delivering immediate assistance to some 2,000 beneficiaries.

- On 31 October, 2008 the budget was revised to CHF 1,513,927 CHF (USD 1,388,924 or EUR 970,466) for nine months to reach 32,000 beneficiaries.

Summary: Throughout the months of October, November and December, 2008, heavy rainfall has affected Central America, especially Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, causing extensive flooding. Approximately 330,000 people were affected in these countries. Houses and public infrastructure were damaged and crops were lost. This Operations Update no.2 reflects updated information on the relief activities accomplished by the National Societies of these countries. Belize, which was included in this appeal on 31 October, had by then received DREF funds in order to jump start relief distributions. The main focus of the National Societies of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua is to support a timely and appropriate response, through the delivery of essential emergency relief items, and complete damage and needs assessments for early recovery activities (shelter, water and sanitation and other sectors).

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).

The situation

The countries of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador were affected by heavy rains as a result of Tropical Depression number 16 starting on 16 October 2008.

Tropical Depression 16 (TD16) soaked Belize with constant rain, overflowing several rivers and affecting many villages in Cayo, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Belize and Corozal districts. Several of these districts (Orange Walk and Corozal) had already suffered floods due to Tropical Storm Arthur 4 months earlier in June 2008. Several sections of Cayo district have been declared disaster area. Approximately 24 communities were severely impacted affecting some 38,000 people. Temporary emergency shelters were opened, housing 400 evacuated people. Livelihoods in farming, commerce and tourism have been affected by flooding, but mainly due to interruptions in transportation. Many of the people affected are farmers whose main livelihood is agriculture. Due to the floods farmers have lost their corn, rice, beans and papaya crops among others. They may thus require food assistance. The Emergency Committees in the rest of the affected districts have been responding to the emergency by evacuating people and distributing emergency relief items.

In Honduras, torrential rains across the entire territory, especially in the departments of Choluteca, Valle, and Cortés, caused flash floods and mudslides, damaging or destroying bridges, roads, crops and forcing people out of their homes. TD16 caused rivers to overflow flooding communities settled along the rivers including the municipalities of Potrerillos, Pimienta and Villanueva in the department of Cortés and El Progreso in the department of Yoro. Similar conditions were experienced when hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998.

Additional floods were generated by the programmed discharges of water in the main dam in the department of Cortés. A national red alert was declared by the Permanent Contingency Commission (Comision Permanente de Contingencias - COPECO) for the municipalities of Corquín and Cucuyagua in the Copán province, Belén, Gualcho in Ocotepeque and the province of Cortés.

Over 279,972 people were affected by the floods. In addition, 12,429 houses sustained damages while 250 were completely destroyed in the department of Cortés. 1,660 hectares including maize, palm tree, plantain, and sugar cane crops in the agricultural sector were affected. Latest data indicated 34 people died and 16 remain missing.

In Guatemala, the government declared a state of emergency in 27 municipalities in El Petén and Quiché located along rivers and lowlands of the country. The floods claimed the lives of four people and affected over 24,332 people. According to the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres - CONRED) the heavy rain affected approximately 183 communities in the northern and northeastern territories in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Izabal, Petén, Quiché and El Progreso.