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American Red Cross int'l response: Hurricane Stan - Mexico, Central America 21 Oct 2005

News and Press Release
Originally published
Disaster Overview

On Oct. 1, Hurricane Stan became the 18th named storm of the 2005 hurricane season when it formed in the Caribbean. It quickly made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula and moved over land as a tropic storm. When it re-emerged over the warm waters, it intensified making a second landfall south of Vera Cruz, Mexico, as a Category 1 hurricane. Although seemingly dwarfed by this hurricane season's Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which made landfall as Category 4 and 3 storms, respectively, Stan has had a devastating affect on countries along the southern Gulf Coast.

Several Central American countries and southern Mexico are struggling with severe flooding and landslides. As of Oct. 21, nearly 750 people have perished in the aftermath of Stan and thousands more remain missing. The dangerously heavy and relentless rainfall brought on by the recent passage of the storm system has come in the midst of the region's rainy season. El Salvador and Guatemala have been particularly hard hit as they are not only struggling with the flooding and landslides, having also recently experienced some seismic and volcanic activity. While communication and access to affected areas continues to improve, damaged infrastructure continues to pose challenges.

El Salvador

The situation in El Salvador continues to stabilize, with the national state of alert having been further downgraded. The National Emergency Committee reports that the death toll stands at 69, with 190 people injured. As of Oct. 21, more than 36,000 people remain in shelters; approximately 44 percent of the total sheltered population have returned to their homes. While some schools have reopened, more than 130 are still being used as shelters.

Debris removal and infrastructure repair activities are underway. Food distribution continues, and the Ministry of Health continues to treat those in shelters as well as those in hospitals. The main health problems reported in shelters include those associated with crowded conditions, exposure to unsanitary water, weather conditions, personal hygiene or personal loss. The Salvadoran Red Cross continues to provide food and non-food relief assistance to those affected.


According to latest information from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, as of Oct. 15, the death toll stands at 654 people, with 841 people missing, 381 people wounded and some 1.5 million people affected in more than 760 communities. There are more 140,200 people in approximately 760 shelters. Tens of thousands of homes have been affected and hundreds of bridges and roads have been damaged or destroyed.

The Guatemalan Red Cross is providing emergency food and other relief assistance to those affected, having sent more than 200 flights carrying food, medicine and clothing to the most affected regions of Coatepeque, Tec=FAn Umán, Tejuela, Mazatenango and Retalhuleu. It has distributed food in more than 200 temporary shelters and is directly managing more than 30 shelters. A team of volunteer doctors is providing basic medical care and psychological support to those left homeless.

Other Affected Countries

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation), the following is known regarding the situation in several other affected countries as of Oct. 21:

- Costa Rica - the the death toll stands at 1 with more than 600 homes damaged or destroyed and approximately 1,500 people in 24 shelters;

- Honduras - the death toll stands at 6 with approximately 700 people in 9 shelters

- Nicaragua - the death toll stands at 3 with more than 60 homes damaged or destroyed and about 970 people in 13 shelters;

- Mexico - the death toll is 15 with some 173,000 homes damaged or destroyed and about 296,000 people in more than 1,200 shelters;

- Haiti - approximately 150 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

More than 2,000 Red Cross volunteers and staff are carrying out emergency operations in eight Central American countries to help more than 10,000 affected families.

American Red Cross Response

The American Red Cross is providing disaster response assistance to affected National Societies in coordination with International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement) partners.

In particular, the American Red Cross is supporting the Mexican Red Cross in purchasing relief items for immediate distribution and the restocking of Mexican Red Cross warehouses. In El Salvador, the American Red Cross has placed three staff and two vehicles at the disposal of the Salvadoran Red Cross Society for this response. A fourth American Red Cross staff member is supporting the Guatemalan Red Cross in its disaster response and planning for ongoing activities.

The American Red Cross is helping reconnect families (finding missing loved ones), by accepting International Disaster Welfare Inquiries (IDWIs) for the disaster-affected areas of Mexico and El Salvador only. The Guatemalan and Honduran Red Cross societies are fully engaged in emergency relief operations and have not indicated their capacity to perform disaster tracing, so no inquiries for Guatemala or Honduras are currently being accepted. (See "Finding Missing Loved Ones")

The American Red Cross continues is maintaining close contact with the Federation and the Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit regarding this disaster. American Red Cross International Response Team members are ready for deployment, as necessary. Additional American Red Cross response options will be considered, and in coordination with Movement partners, as the situation evolves and more information becomes available regarding emerging needs.

A Coordinated Effort

The American Red Cross role in responding to an international disaster is different from its response to a disaster in the United States. It works in a coordinated manner with many global partners, taking into consideration how the organization can provide unique, specialized assistance in the areas where it can best help.

The American Red Cross works alongside the other Red Cross societies from around the world, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (also known as the Federation) helps coordinate the response efforts of the various societies to minimize a duplication of efforts and ensure coverage of relief needs.

Finding Missing Loved Ones

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens who were living in or visiting a disaster-impacted area should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747.

For inquiries regarding non-U.S. citizens in disaster-affected areas (known as International Disaster Welfare Inquiries or IDWIs), the American Red Cross - in cooperations with the national societies in Mexico and El Salvador only - is accepting inquiries from immediate family members (parents, siblings, children and spouses) for missing loved ones who permanently reside in the affected areas, who are NOT U.S. citizens and who were in regular contact with their relatives in the United States before the disaster occurred. Inquirers should contact their local American Red Cross chapter for assistance.

The Guatemalan and Honduran Red Cross societies are fully engaged in emergency relief operations and have not indicated their capacity to perform disaster tracing, so no inquiries for Guatemala or Honduras are currently being accepted.

The American Red Cross will provide updates as they become available.

For inquiries about U.S. citizens living/traveling abroad, call 1-888-407-4747

How to Support the Relief Efforts

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Making a financial contribution is the best way to help. To make a donation:

Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish)
Make at secure, online donation at
Contact your local Red Cross chapter

Mail a Donation to:

American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, D.C. 20013

The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate a donation for a specific disaster please do so at the time of donation.

NOTE: The Red Cross has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for its effective use of donations. At least 91 cents of every dollar donated to the American Red Cross goes directly to assist disaster victims.

Media Inquiries

Please visit the American Red Cross Press Room on for the latest press releases, media advisories or statements, links to available news photos, video and public service announcements.

Visit the Press Room on
NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL Medial Requests ONLY: Please call Disaster Public Affairs
Call Disaster Public Affairs at 202-303-5551
LOCAL Media: Please contact the American Red Cross Chapter nearest you.
Find the closest Red Cross Chapter

American Red Cross
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.