Red Cross volunteers support evacuated families in Honduras

Published: 27 October 2006 0:00 CET

Nery Alessi Ortiz and Jimmy Gerardo Hernandez

The lives of thousands of people in southern and western Honduras have been disrupted by heavy rains falling since 20 October.

Already, the Goascorán river in Valle, on the border with El Salvador, has overflowed. Some 1,200 people have been affected in Valle and another 1,500 in Ocatepeque. Crops and water supply systems in both areas have been destroyed.

“Red Cross relief teams are supporting more than 300 families,” says Antonia García, president of the Nacaome branch of the Honduras Red Cross. “Some people, particularly children, already have acute respiratory illnesses.”

The relief teams are working with the local authorities and the fire brigade to evacuate families living in high risk areas to emergency shelters such as schools and community centres.

“From what I have seen, the main problem could be the contamination of water as some latrines have been flooded,” says Nery Alessi Ortiz Montalvan, a member of the Honduras Red Cross national relief intervention team.

Relief volunteers working with Swiss Red Cross delegate, Claudio Stauffer, are therefore delivering trucks with potable water to the Nacaome branch.

The communities most affected by the swelling of the Goascorán river are La Laguna, El Cubulero, Sonora, Playa Grande, Playitas, El Conchal, El Capulin, Calicanto, Valle Nuevo, La Ceiba, San Jeronimo, Valle de Jesus, Muruguaca y Guatales.

Honduras has been vulnerable to this type of natural emergency since October 1998, when Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc across Central America.

Mitch caused widespread destruction in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, triggering one of the largest and most complex relief operations ever faced by the Red Cross.

The current heavy rains in the region have also caused landslides and floods in southern Guatemala. Guatemalan Red Cross search and rescue relief teams have worked with the local authorities to evacuate affected people.