Tropical storm Michelle triples the rainfall brought by Hurricane Mitch

from World Vision
Published on 02 Nov 2001
By Jose Figueroa
Approximately 29,000 people in Honduras have been affected by Tropical Storm Michelle to date, said Juan Bendeck, the Director of the National Committee for Permanent Contingencies (COPECO), today, according to the local TV news.

The Honduran National Meteorological Center have reported that Tropical Storm Michelle has already left three times as much water in the country than Hurricane Mitch three years ago.

So far, the damages are concentrated mostly in the northern region, where three World Vision long term development programs have been seriously affected. Damages in these programs, so far, include three main roads of access left useless, 35 water systems destroyed, 70% of bean crops lost, 65 communities with a total of 6,452 families affected, and 34 communities yet unreached. These figures will rise once isolated communities have been reached.

The population in the North of the country is already suffering from diarrhea, respiratory and skin diseases, and classic as well as hemorrhagic dengue.

World Vision Honduras began taking precautionary measures before the tropical storm struck, and through a program financed by USAID, has Emergency Response Teams organized at community levels in the affected areas.

In addition, several World Vision Rapid Response Teams composed of medical, logistic support and communications staff have reached the affected areas and are providing assistance to the population in coordination with program staff already in place. All emergency response efforts are being coordinated with COPECO (National Committee for Permanent Contingencies) and the Ministry of Health.

World Vision is currently responding with antibiotics, analgesics, antidiarrheals, water purification tablets, bags of corn for food, blankets, reinforced plastic sheets for shelter, and chocolates.

The latest reports say that Tropical Storm Michelle will turn into Hurricane Michelle by tomorrow.

The only hope held by the Honduran population is that the present trajectory of the storm is northward, moving slowly into the sea. But today the nightmare is as real as three years ago when Mitch showed similar unpredictable tendencies that proved fatal for Hondurans. Today and until the demise of storm Michelle, Hondurans will continue to suffer from a feared drama that has become a part of their culture.

As an irony of fate, Tropical Storm Michelle is creating havoc and terrifying the entire population of Honduras exactly three years after Hurricane Mitch hit this Central American country. On 30 October 1998 "The Storm of the Century" changed the Honduran way of life and the sense of security of every member of that society. On 30 October 2001 Tropical Storm Michelle is having a similar effect, forcing everyone to remember the fear and uncertainty felt during the fateful dates experienced around 1,000 days ago.

Honduran news are full of daily stories of families who have been affected, depicting the expressions of sorrow and despair of men, women and children who are reliving a nightmare. The statement constantly repeated by those families is: "We can't believe it is happening all over again. God have mercy on us."