Tropical Depression 12E and Habitat Guatemala's disaster response

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More than 7,000 homes were lost or damaged after severe tropical storms, and nearly 13,000 people living in temporary shelters Habitat for Humanity Guatemala continues to raise funds for disaster recovery.

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (December 12, 2011) – On October 12, Tropical Depression 12E landed just off Guatemala’s Pacific coast. The storm and its heavy residual rains passed through Mexico and Central America, leaving tragedy in its wake.

The five days of continued rainfall were followed by storm systems passing along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In Guatemala’s western highlands, numerous landslides along the Inter-American highway were the result of constant rains. Guatemala’s precarious national infrastructure toppled in the midst of the storms, with portions of highway and bridges collapsing across the country. Along the pacific coast, there were numerous reports of flooding and lost or damaged homes. Swelling rivers overtook their banks, affecting communities in the southeastern region of the country and destroying crops in the north.

Reports from CONRED (the Guatemalan version of FEMA) and the national press indicate that over 175,000 people have been affected by the rains. Some lost crops or inventory equal to their yearly income. Some lost their homes, their cars, their belongings. At least 34 people in Guatemala have lost their lives as a result of the disaster, and 13 are still listed as missing. Because much of the country has been cut off by landslides and collapsed bridges, the number of casualties may continue to grow.

Estimates indicate that more than 7,000 homes have been lost or damaged during the storm, with nearly 13,000 people living in temporary shelters.

Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has mounted a disaster response fund to assist families affected by Tropical Depression 12E. The project “Disaster Response to Tropical Depression 12E” will offer 200 progressive homes and 800 home improvements to 1,000 families made homeless by the storm. This support will provide those who lost everything with a foundation upon which they can rebuild their lives.

The project will include training for affected families in construction, disaster and emergency response, financial education and hygiene. Habitat Guatemala is currently researching the specific needs of the affected families so as to provide the best possible response.