Recently, the President of Nicaragua has declared the country in a State of National Disaster. In addition to the Hurricane Felix a few weeks ago, there have been heavy rains with more fatalities and severe damages in other parts of Nicaragua in the last week. The recent rains have been more than that of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. In total there have been:
* Over 300 lives lost.
* 37,000 families have been affected (Over 200,000 people)
* 537 communities affected
* 22,000 homes damaged or lost
* 300,000 acres of productive land destroyed
* Over 45,000 heads of cattle lost
* 3,000 kilometers of highway damaged, 1,410 kilometers of which correspond to productive areas of the country.
Below is a map detailing the areas of Nicaragua that have been most severely affected by the rains, and where we are currently helping through the ministry AMOS Health and Hope and the Nicaraguan Council of Protestant Churches (CEPAD). Below is a picture of main areas affected by the recent rains and the damages done in each area.
To attend to the following problems post hurricane:
First Nicaragua was hit with Hurricane Felix on Sep. 4th on the Atlantic Coast, with heavy rains and winds destroying thousands of homes and killing hundreds. In the last week, in the Pacific Coast, including Managua where we live, there has been a slow and steady rainfall.
When you live in a place for a while, you become accustomed to the rhythm of your environment. Almost every day is the same in Nicaraguaâ€“ the sun comes up at 5:30 AM, and goes down at 5:30 PM. In the rainy season, from June to November, there will be heavy rains for two hours in the afternoon, but the rest of the day will be sunny, hot and humid. In recent weeks, however, there have just been clouds, steady rains, and almost every time you look out your window, it is grey.
These constant rains have soaked the earth, and flooded the rivers, causing roads to be destroyed, homes to be flooded, crops to be lost and children to fall sick to diarrhea and pneumonia from destroyed water sources and latrines which contaminate their environment.
Destroyed road in Matagalpa
About Disaster Relief Efforts: CEPAD and AMOS
Since September 4th, there have been â€œno Saturdays or Sundays here in Nicaraguaâ€, as one of our physician colleagues said. And it is true. Because of the rains, there has been an increase in diarrhea, pneumonia, and there is the constant threat of malaria and dengue because of standing bodies of water that are perfect breeding sites for the mosquitoes that transmit malaria and dengue.
Together with CEPAD, AMOS has been working in difficult-to-reach communities for both immediate disaster relief and long term reconstruction:
1. For rapid disaster evaluation and response:
Sept. 6th through Sept. 14th, 2007
1. Two days after the hurricane, CEPAD staff and Dr. David ParajÃ³n began doing accompaniment visits to affected communities as well as collecting information from the communities about their needs.
2. We developed a simple rapid disaster evaluation assessment tool that we can use to determine what the greatest needs and risks are in each community. These disaster evaluations are done in one day so that response to the disaster can be rapid.
Oct. 18th-19th, 2007
Rapid evaluation is currently being carried out by AMOS and CEPAD staff in 7 communities that have been isolated from communications by the rainfalls in Chinandega, on the Pacific.
2. For provision of immediate relief:
Trip #1: Sept. 6th â€“ Sept. 14th and Sept. 19th to 24th
Team from CEPAD traveled from Managua to RAAN and back to deliver supplies including black plastic roofing and chlorine, and 16 tons of food. Each family received 80 pounds of food (including rice, beans, sugar, oil, cereal flour, salt) in the communities of Hiltara, Butku, Sangnilaya, and Panua.
Delivery of food supplies in the RAAN
Trip #2: Oct. 12th to October 19th, 2007
We have been able to get our big IFA (those of you who have been here to Nicaragua would affectionately know it as the big monster truck) from Managua to the RAAN to deliver the following:
* Medicines for 17,000 people for 3 months.
* 6000 Hygiene Kits (Each kit comes with soap, towels, toothpaste, toothbrush, nail clippers, and comb) including sanitary napkins.
* Tools for the four communities to continue clearing trees and debris, and begin rebuilding their homes as well as start planting their crops.
3. Reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts
For the next few months, AMOS will be focusing in affected communities in the following areas:
* Food security â€“ Providing food supplies, seeds and tools to families in communities that have lost their crops.
* Water and Sanitation â€“ assuring clean water source and chlorination of water sources.
* Control of Epidemic Illnessesâ€“ control of malaria, dengue, diarrhea, and pneumonia outbreaks
* Reconstruction â€“ reconstruction of homes and schools affected by the hurricane.
Help us to help those in need.
Disaster Relief is difficult in isolated areas, but these are the very people who need the most help. When we think of the people we are trying to serve, all the hoops and logistical details seem insignificant (e.g. receiving supplies and taking them out of customs, organizing the supplies, packing the trucks, transporting them from Managua on a 2-3 day land trip, paying truck diesel and maintenance costs, and hand-delivering the supplies directly to the families). When we think of you, we are very grateful for your support and encouraged to keep on.
For those of you who have been asking about very specific ways to help, here is a table with the list of items we currently need:
*Thank you to those who have helped raise $10,000 toward the total of $30,000 needed for the vehicle fund!
If you feel youâ€™d like to be a part of the relief efforts through financial support, you may write your check out to International Ministries, with the MEMO line clearly stating: â€œAMOS Health and Hopeâ€”HURRICANE RELIEFâ€. Then send it to the following mailing address:
PO Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482
Please email us at email@example.com to let us know your contribution is coming! This will allow us to purchase supplies in advance. Thank you!
We would like to thank all of you for your prayers and love and support of the relief efforts which has made it possible to travel out to the affected communities to deliver much needed food, supplies, medicines and equipment.
Laura and David Parajon