Guatemala + 3 more

Central America and Mexico - Floods Fact Sheet #3, Fiscal Year (FY) 2006

Situation Report
Originally published



On October 4, Hurricane Stan made landfall south of Veracruz, Mexico, with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour before weakening to a tropical storm and generating separate storms across southern Mexico and Central America. The heavy rainfall associated with these storms caused widespread and severe flooding that has affected millions of people across Central America, including in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and Costa Rica. The floods have killed hundreds of people across Central America and Mexico, and death toll figures continue to rise as communication and access to isolated areas improve. In addition, the Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) volcano in northwestern El Salvador erupted on October 1, spewing hot rocks and plumes of ash 15 kilometers (km) into the air, forcing the evacuation of 7,000 local residents and resulting in two deaths.

664 dead, 108,183 in shelters, 390,187 directly affected and/or displaced, 3.5 million affected Government of Guatemala(1)P T T P - October 18
El Salvador
69 dead, 36,154 in shelters Government of El Salvador - October 13National Emergency Committee (COEN) - October 17
15 dead 1.9 million affected, 370,069 evacuated Government of Mexico - October 11
Costa Rica
459 communities affected, 1,074
Government of Costa Rica(2)P - October 6

Total FY 2006 USAID/OFDA Assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Mexico: $2,500,345


USAID/OFDA Team Deployment

Currently, a six-person USAID/OFDA team is on the ground in Guatemala, working with USAID/Guatemala, local disaster officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assess impacts, identify needs, and deliver emergency assistance. The USAID/OFDA team reports that top sectoral priorities are health, water and sanitation, and shelter.


As of October 18, the Government of Guatemala's (GOG) National Council for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) reported 664 confirmed deaths, 108,183 in a total of 647 shelters, and 390,187 displaced or directly affected. The official death toll is projected to rise, with improved access to remote villages cut off by mudslides. According to CONRED, the most affected departments are San Marcos, scuintla, Quetzaltenango, Sololá, Huehuetenango, Quiché, Retalhuleu, Chimaltenango, Suchitepéquez, Santa Rosa, Totonicapán, Jutiapa, Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, and Jalapa. Approximately 33,100 homes have been damaged or destroyed, 19 municipalities left without potable water, and 10 municipalities left without functioning sanitation systems.

On October 15 and 16, joint assessment teams that comprised representatives of USAID/OFDA, USAID/Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy, the GOG, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), and NGO partnersconducted multiple overflight assessments of highland municipalities in the departments of San Marcos, Sololá, Quetzaltenango, and Huehuetenango.

The assessment team reported that San Marcos Department is the most affected department in the country, with an estimated 55,000 people evacuated to shelters, including 22,000 people from the municipality of Tajumulco.

In the Department of Sololá, the team reported that municipalities along Lake Atitlán suffered damage to water and sanitation, communications, and public infrastructure systems. In San Pedro de la Laguna, more than 1,200 people were forced to evacuate to shelters, and approximately 30 homes were completely destroyed. All five school in the town were closed, and two were nearly destroyed. Water sources are contaminated in San Pedro, and community members are drinking unfiltered lake water.

According to the USAID assessment team, the municipality of Santiago Atitlan, Sololá, is housing more than 3,500 people in shelters. Those affected by the flooding urgently need potable water and temporary shelter, as well as psychological and social support, and health surveillance. Local officials from San Lucas Toliman, Solalá Department reported that the flooding destroyed water distribution systems.

In Cuilco municipality, Huehuetenango Department, the assessment team reported that landslides severed large portions of the two major roads connecting Cuilco to neighboring municipalities, isolating the community from assistance in the initial days of the disaster. According to the governor of Huehuetenango, Cuilco was the most affected municipality, with 5,800 affected, including nearly 2,000 homeless. In the municipality of Tectitan, 2,000 people were displaced and an additional 2,400 affected.

El Salvador

Two simultaneous emergencies - the severe flooding caused by Tropical Storm Stan and the eruption of the Santa Ana volcano - affected roughly half of the country and forced the evacuation of more than 69,000 people to local shelters. Flood damage to housing and public infrastructure was particularly severe in the departments of San Miguel and Usulután in southern El Salvador, and San Salvador and Sansonate in northern El Salvador.

According to the Government of El Salvador and COEN, these emergencies affected 70,000 people, 36,154 of whom are in 388 shelters. The Government of El Salvador has confirmed 69 deaths due to flood-related events, primarily mudslides.

The main health problems in shelters housing those affected by the emergencies are acute respiratory infections, skin problems, diarrhea, anxiety disorders, and bacterial conjunctivitis. These problems result from crowding; exposure to stagnant, dirty water; the weather; and difficulties with personal hygiene. Despite these problems, no waste-related sources of infection have been reported.

Except for families who lost homes due to severe rain and flood damage, many of the individuals affected by the floods have returned to their homes. The 6,000 to 7,000 people affected by the Santa Ana volcano are still in shelters, where they will remain for the foreseeable future due to continued volcanic seismic activity. Preliminary damage estimates by the Government of El Salvador indicate that $229 million will be needed for reconstruction.

According to Oxfam, conditions in rural areas remain precarious. People returning to their homes and farms are encountering damaged systems for drinking water and waste disposal, which put people at risk for stomach ailments, hepatitis, and respiratory infections from mold.

On October 3, a two-person USAID/OFDA team led by the Senior Regional Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) traveled to areas affected by the flooding in the departments of Sonsonate, La Libertad, San Salvador, Santa Ana, La Paz, and Usulután. A USAID/OFDA/LAC consultant remains in El Salvador and continues to assess needs and coordinate with local partners.


Flooding in the states of Veracruz, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Puebla, Hidalgo, and Guerrero forced the evacuation of approximately 370,000 people from nearly 3,000 communities to local shelters, according to the Government of Mexico on October 11.

A USAID/OFDA consultant based in Mexico continues to conduct damage assessments and coordinate with local disaster officials, in consultation with USAID/Mexico.

Costa Rica

Extensive rainfall in the provinces of Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Puntarenas, and San José in the Pacific and Central Valley caused severe flooding and landslides, forcing more than 1,000 people in 459 communities to evacuate to local shelters.

The Government of Costa Rica's National Commission for the Prevention of Risks and Attention to Emergencies (CNE) established temporary shelters in accessible areas and airlifted food and emergency relief supplies to isolated areas.

As of October 6, 550 houses, 117 bridges, and 11 educational buildings were reported damaged, and more than 281 roads were blocked or damaged by mud accumulation, according to CNE.

According to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), the rainfall affected approximately 2,000 people in San José. Individuals evacuated from their homes are currently accommodated in 24 shelters or in the houses of family and neighbors.


(1) Government of Guatemala's National Council for Disaster Reduction (CONRED)

(2) Government of Costa Rica's National Commission for the Prevention of Risks and Attention to Emergencies (CNE)

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