UNICEF Honduras flood emergency update 30 Oct 2001

Report
from UN Children's Fund
Published on 30 Oct 2001
Background
On 29 October 2001, the President of Honduras officially declared a "state of emergency" in 5 departments (Colon, Atlantida, Yoro, Cortes and Santa Barbara) affected by floods due to torrential rains. The zones affected are in the western and northern parts of the country, along the Caribbean coast. The Presidential decree orders the Ministry of Finance to allocate emergency funds to the Permanent Commission on Emergencies (COPECO) and instructs the Ministries and decentralized institutions, including the municipal emergency committees, to undertake emergency activities in the affected zones.

COPECO foresees that the flood situation will be aggravated in view of the continued rainfalls forecast by meteorologists for the next 48 hours.

National Response

Under the coordination of COPECO, relief efforts are being taken to evacuate families. Rescue operations are underway to reach communities that have remained isolated due to the overflow of rivers and the destruction of bridges. Sports centres, schools and public buildings are being transformed into temporary shelters. Bottled water and food rations are being distributed in the temporary shelters which have been set up for the flood victims. The Honduran Red Cross is also playing an important role in the relief efforts.

Preliminary Damages

According to the Permanent Committee on Emergencies (COPECO), one person has been killed, 7 people are missing, 416 people have been evacuated, 4,393 people are homeless, 245 homes have been damaged, 3 bridges have been destroyed, 3 bridges have been damaged and 1 school has been damaged. The damage assessement for the department of Santa Barbara are not available, and many communities in the department of Colon remain isolated.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Reported by COPECO - 30 October 2001

Department Numbers Situation
COLON 140 people
12 people
Evacuated
Homeless
CORTES 4,000 families
34 people
2 people
200 families
Homeless
Evacuated
Missing
Isolated - Unreachable
YORO 1 person
1 person
17 people
3 buildings
400 acres
40 people
4 bridges
Killed
Missing
Homeless
Destroyed
Damaged by River Floods
Evacuated
Destroyed
ATLANTIDA 4 persons
350 people
200 people
195 families
2 bridges
1 school
2 public buildings
Missing
Homeless
Evacuated
Unreachable
Damaged
Damaged
Damaged
SANTA BARBARA Not available

UNICEF Action

Coordination with COPECO

UNICEF is maintaining close contact with COPECO in order to obtain accurate information on the zones affected by the floods. The meteorological conditions are also being closely monitored by UNICEF in coordination with COPECO. Additional contacts have been established with counterparts (the Ministry of Health and the National Water Authority) to ensure effective coordination and information exchange.

Advocacy and social communication interventions

The UNICEF-supported child journalists in La Ceiba, El Progreso, and San Pedro Sula have utilized their radio programmes to assist the populations affected by the flooding by informing them on preventive measures to be taken in order to avert the deterioration of the situation. For example, health messages to prevent water-borne diseases are being discussed on the radio by child journalists. They made a special plea to ensure that child rights are safeguarded during the emergency situation and that priority response be afforded to children and women.

The UNICEF volunteers of San Pedro Sula are raising funds as well as collecting food and clothing for the victims of the floods.

Assessment plans

To date, reports confirm that UNICEF-assisted projects have not been affected by the flooding. Plans are underway for UNICEF to undertake an assessment mission as soon as the weather conditions stabilize. At the moment, the roads are unsafe and many segments are interrupted. In addition, the ghastly winds are causing trees and electric poles to fall on roads obstructing traffic. In the meantime, UNICEF will maintain close links with counterparts and preposition itself to co-ordinate future intervention with relief supplies. This, of course, is dependent on weather conditions and adequate funding.

For more information on UNICEF, visit its website athttp://www.unicef.org