Over 1.9 million affected by severe flooding in Central America as the IFRC launches emergency appeals

Published: 26 October 2011

Fears are growing that further heavy rains could worsen the emergency situation in Central America, where over 1.9 million people have been affected by severe flooding and landslides.

The regional death toll from the floods is approximately 130, but Red Cross teams involved in the relief effort say the situation could worsen as heavy rains continue to pound the region. Emergency funds totalling CHF880,000 from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) has so far been provided to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The IFRC has also launched an emergency appeal for El Salvador and Guatemala for CHF1,185,025 ($1,349,974 USD) and CHF786,728 ($896,036USD respectively.

El Salvador has been the hardest hit by torrential rains, with over one million people now thought to be affected by flooding and landslides. At least 13,000 families are now housed in emergency shelters managed by the Salvadorian Red Cross Society. A number of hospitals are also thought to have been damaged in the floods. A series of evacuations are underway from the capital San Salvador which continues to be lashed with storms. Concerns are growing about the impact of the rain on crops and other sources of income.

“We are particularly concerned about people in rural communities who depend on their crops for survival,” said Roy Venegas of the Salvadorian Red Cross Society. “The heavy rains threaten to destroy the livelihoods of many people so one of the key priorities for the us will be to help them recover and regain their sources of income.”

The water supply in El Salvador is also becoming a matter of serious concern, with over 2,000 drinking wells now thought to be contaminated. The Salvadorian Red Cross Society has installed water treatment plants in a number of affected areas to ensure affected populations can access safe drinking water. In Guatemala, an estimated 550,000 people have now been affected by flooding and torrential rain, with almost 8,000 homes destroyed. Damage to bridges and roads have hindered the supply of emergency aid to more remote communities.

The Guatemalan Red Cross, in coordination with the ICRC, Spanish Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, and Netherlands Red Cross is aiming to assist at least 15,000 people with healthcare, water, and sanitation assistance in coming days.

In Honduras, 60,000 people have been affected by heavy rains and, according to the Honduran Red Cross, 70 per cent of communities have still yet to be reached by the organization’s relief teams.

In Nicaragua a state of emergency has been declared as over 28,000 people are in need of assistance following floods and landslides across the country. The Nicaraguan Red Cross is distributing relief assistance and manning emergency shelters across the country.

“This is a very serious emergency situation,” said Jorge Zequiera, coordinator for the IFRC’s Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU). “Hundreds of thousands of people are facing an increasingly desperate situation and we hope these appeals will be well supported.”

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Panama:
Enrique Jair Guevara, emergency communications officer, Americas Zone, IFRC
Mobile : +507 66707365 – E-mail : enrique.guevara@ifrc.org
Follow PADRU on twitter @PADRUpanama

In Geneva:
Jessica Sallabank. IFRC Senior Media Officer.
Mobile +41 799481148 Jessica.sallabank@ifrc.org

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