Floods in Central America

In the first week of October when hurricane Stan hit Central America, torrential rains provoked extensive flooding and massive landslides, hitting Guatemala and El Salvador in particular, and to a less extent, Honduras and Mexico. The rains have been extremely strong on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, but interior areas are said to have been heavily affected too, with mudslides gulping entire villages. Aid and relief effort have been slow to get through to these villages due to their remoteness, which has been aggravated by the destruction of roads and continuing heavy rains. The death toll in the country is estimated at present to be at least 600 hundred, but there are thousands of missing people whose fate is still not known. Jesuit Works in Guatemala, among them Fe y Alegria, IGER (Guatemalan Institute for Education through Radio) and Servicio Jesuita para el Desarollo (SJD – Jesuit Development Service), have immediately initiated emergency operations in the affected areas. According to an information note released by Entreculturas, a Spanish NGO associated with these works, IGER, thanks to its extensive radio network, is coordinating its operations with the local dioceses and collaborating with the Spanish Aid Agency by providing logistical support. Information is still missing from several schools of Fe y Alegria located in a mountainous area heavily hit by the floods. In El Salvador the number of victims is more limited, but the situation remains very difficult, with at least 60 people reported dead, and 40,000 at least displaced. Here SJD is assisting one thousand people who have fled from their villages. In addition to the tragedy of human lives lost, the consequences on the small economy of EL Salvador, heavily dependent as it is on agricultural production, will be disastrous. As Miguel Alonzo of SJD in Salvador put it: ?There are people who, besides having lost their family, have lost their dwellings and goods. At best, they have only lost their harvest, and will have to start from scratch. The crops, whose harvesting was very near, have been destroyed by the floods? We are facing a great challenge of economic reactivation? To access Entreculturas report: http://ww.entreculturas.org