Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Latin America representative, Carlos Cardenas, is in daily conversation with partners and visiting response programs to advise us on our own financial support of the responses being undertaken.
The emergency is affecting 65 percent of the national territory of the country. Mudslides are occurring throughout the country, with 143 mudslides affecting just the region of Soyapango in the capital city. Fifty-four shelters have been established by churches and non-governmental groups, and another 54 shelters have been set up by the government. Fifteen hundred people have been evacuated from areas of high risk.
The ACT alliance members are putting together an appeal and plans for response. PDA has sent an immediate $50,000 to support the immediate needs.
Almost all of the bridges on the Pacific lowlands have been destroyed by overflowing rivers, with many people taking refuge on their roofs. There is no transportation from Quetzaltenango to Guatemala City. At the moment 150 deaths are reported. The immediate need is for food and water, but supplies cannot be delivered until roads are cleared and bridges minimally repaired. PDA is committing $30,000, but will not send the funds until Carlos Cardenas, PDA Latin America Representative, has visited and identified the coordination mechanism among partners in country. He will be in country this coming week.
In Chiapas the President and Secretary of the Presbytery of Chiapas have had their homes washed away by the storm. At the moment all of the roads are filled with water running with a current so swift that no one is able to move about. The region is accessible only by helicopter. The train tracks from Tuxtla Guttierez into the region have also been washed away. Tzotzil Presbyterians are collecting beans, corn and blankets, with plans to deliver them to the Tapachula region on October 21. The Reformed Church in America has had mission coworkers working with these presbyteries for the past 80 years. PDA will support whatever appeal they put out after the local presbyteries have done their assessment and budgets.
We have less information about specifics in this country. However, they are also being lashed by the rains, and ACT alliance members are putting together a response budget and plans. In addition, we are aware of the very severe famine in the Northern part of Nicaragua and have been awaiting the budget and plans for response to that situation as well. We anticipate receiving this information shortly.