Cuba + 8 more

End of 2005 hurricane season does not mean end of relief efforts

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(New York: 1 December 2005): More than 30,000 people remain displaced in temporary shelters in Honduras, in the wake of tropical storm Gamma, the 24th named storm of the official 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, and the last to cause significant damage in the Americas.
Thirty-four deaths have been attributed to Gamma, which brought heavy rain to the Caribbean coast of Honduras from 18 to 20 November. Overall, some 90,000 people have been affected by the storm, which caused significant damage in six departments of Honduras already suffering the effects of hurricanes Wilma and Beta.

Responding to a request for international assistance, the United Nations country team in Honduras has dispatched five inter-agency teams to undertake damage assessments, in collaboration with local authorities and non-governmental organizations. The World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed nearly 200,000 family rations, and is planning to provide an additional 1750 metric tonnes of food in two departments for the next three months. Spain, the United States and Japan have also responded with financial or in-kind assistance, as has the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season - the busiest on record - saw 26 named storms, including 13 hurricanes, seven of which were major (Category 3 or higher). Among the most destructive storms were Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma, Alpha and Beta, as well as tropical storm Gamma.

Dennis, which struck Haiti and Cuba in July, caused more than 30 deaths. Katrina, which twice made landfall in the United States - in Florida and the Gulf Coast - caused at least 1300 deaths and has been recognized as one of the largest natural disasters in United States history. Stan provoked severe flooding and mudslides across Central America, causing at least 1500 deaths in six countries and prompting the United Nations to launch humanitarian appeals for Guatemala and El Salvador. Wilma lingered for days over Mexico's Yucatan peninsula before moving east to affect Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba and wreak large-scale destruction in Florida. Tropical storm Alpha led to flooding in Haiti, resulting in 20 deaths, while hurricane Beta caused extensive damage in Nicaragua.

Although the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season officially came to an end yesterday, meteorological officials warn that large storms could continue through December. Moreover, as unprecedented as it was, the 2005 storm season could repeat itself in coming years, according to weather experts. The Atlantic Ocean storm activity is currently in a multi-decadal cycle in which conditions exist to brew up monster storms.

For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.