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Honduras and Central America: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 2

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This situation report is based on information received from, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) in the affected countries, the Regional Office in Panama, the UNDAC Team in Honduras and the National Hurricane Centre.

HIGHLIGHTS

- Tropical Depression 16 made landfall in northern Honduras on 16 October causing heavy rains in Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

- The President of Honduras declared a state of national emergency on 23 October.

- A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team has arrived in Honduras where some 193,000 persons were affected and 23 deaths were reported. Assessments are on going.

SITUATION

1. Tropical Depression No. 16 made landfall in northern Honduras on 16 October and has been slowly crossing over Central America causing heavy rains from northern Costa Rica to south-eastern Mexico. The system affected the countries of Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with heavy rains which led to flooding and mudslides. Locally heavy rains can continue over portions of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula over the next day.

HONDURAS

2. Due to a series of meteorological events in the past days (Tropical Depression 16, low depression and swell), the Government of Honduras declared a state of emergency on 19 October. These events caused rains of diverse intensity in the whole country but mainly in the central and western area. The rains led to the overflow of the Tocoa River in the department of Colon and to floods in agricultural-farm areas of the department of Atlántida (municipalities of Arizona, Esparta and La Masica). The department of Valle was affected by the rise in the Choluteca River. Moreover, the Ulua River overflowed and flooded the municipalities of Pimienta, Potrerillos and Progreso in Yoro. The rise of the rivers led to the evacuation of the most vulnerable communities. A great number of landslides were registered in the western and central part of the country. The Government has formally requested humanitarian assistance and declared a State of Emergency. Rains are expected for the next 36 hours.

3. According to the Permanent Commission for Contingencies (COPECO), on 23 October, 23 deaths were reported and some 193,000 persons have been affected. Approximately 23,000 persons were evacuated of which 19,800 are in shelters. More than 340 houses were destroyed and 4, 300 were damaged. Some 15,000 hectares of crops have been lost in particular in the departments of Comayagua, Copán and Ocotepeque. The losses in the most affected departments are expected to increase considerably. Some 157 roads are damaged or destroyed. COPECO maintains a Red Alert for the municipalities of Corquin and Cucuyagua in the Department of Copan, Cortes, Choluteca and Valle; the Yellow Alert in the Departments of Atlántida, Yoro, Olancho, Francisco Morazán and El Paraíso; and the Green Alert in the rest of the country except for the Departments of Gracias a Dios and the Bay Islands.

4. COPECO is coordinating relief activities. The President of Nicaragua has assigned regions to the various ministries to strengthen coordination between COPECO, departmental and local authorities.

5. The UNETE has been monitoring the situation since October the 13th and was activated on 18 October. On 19 October, thematic groups (or clusters) have been activated. Inter agency Assessments are on-going in the South, North and West with the participation of the UN system and Caritas notably. The result of the assessments will be the basis for a Humanitarian Plan of Action and for the decision on the best way to mobilize resources. Donor meetings are scheduled on 23 and 24 October.

6. On 20 October, a meeting took place in the UN House to present the National Emergency Order to bilateral donors and NGOs, as well as to analyze the possible immediate required assistance. Requirements, as identified by COPECO, include:

- Portable latrines;

- Ambulances and 4X4 vehicles for the regions (these can be loaned);

- Potable Water plants;

- Massive medical attention in gastrointestinal diseases, IRAs;

- Specialists in dermatology;

- Energy plants;

- Geophysicists for slides evaluation;

- Communication node for cellular phones in bordering communities with El Salvador;

- Kerosene Stoves;

- Aerial recognition flights;

- And Food and hygiene kits, blankets and mattresses.

7. The international community has offered assistance to Honduras. WHO is reprogramming regular funds in order to mobilize medical teams and to purchase emergency and general medicines. PAHO/WHO has also mobilized regional experts in water and sanitation, disaster management and the SUMA deployment. Three teams have been sent to the field to carry out an inter-agency assessment in the most affected areas in the North, West and South parts of the country.

8. WFP has distributed 57 MT of food in the rural communities of Jutiapa, Corquín, Belén Gualcho and the Departments of Cortés, Yoro, Choluteca and Valle. WFP, in coordination with COPECO, CODEM (Municipality Emergency Committee) and other partners, continues to monitor the situation and carry out assessments to provide assistance to the affected population. WFP has organized missions to the affected areas and needs an additional 2,500 MT of food through the regional PRRO. WFP is also contributing up to USD 42,000 in cash assistance. UNICEF distributed pre-positioned supplies through COPECO and is planning the rehabilitation of the affected water systems and school infrastructure. UNICEF also plans to preposition family hygiene kits, emergency health, education, and cooking kits, as well as blankets and has allocated a USD 120,000 in immediate cash assistance. Mercy Corp is distributing food, blankets and NFIs to families. IOM is dispatching an expert in shelter; MSF is sending a health experts team, while BCPR is deploying an early recovery advisor. FAO, WFP, UNICEF and UNDP are also sending technical personnel, while UNDP has provided USD 150,000 in cash contribution.

9. USAID/OFDA provided USD 50,000 to COPECO and CARE through USAID/Honduras for the procurement of emergency relief supplies. COPECO also utilized USD 25,000 of previously stockpiled relief supplies, provided by USAID/OFDA and USAID/Honduras, to respond to immediate needs. In addition, a disaster specialist was deployed to Honduras to further assess the effects of the floods. Spain, through PAHO, has released USD 30,000 for immediate disaster relief and through AECI has allocated EURO 100,000 for the purchase of relief items in cooperation with COPECO. Argentina has offered technical support; ECHO is assessing the damage, while France will contribute through ECHO. The IDB is making available USD 200,000 for humanitarian assistance. Other donors, such as El Salvador, Mexico, Sweden, Canada, ADRAS, World Bank, Germany, OAS, JICA and Taiwan are considering assistance, pending feedback on damage assessments.

10. The UNDAC team being deployed by OCHA will focus on information management with the support of RedHum in ROLAC, and on needs assessments. Emergency cash grants are being considered, in addition to other support if need be on resource mobilization. IFRC is assisting 2,000 families with hygiene kits, kitchen sets and food and is deploying experts in disaster management, communication and shelter.

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