Poor aid response to storm damage in Central America
October 5, 2005
Tropical storm Stan has killed more than 210 people across Central America, including more than 60 in El Salvador and 120 in Guatemala, but international aid has been slow to arrive in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
Affected Central American countries, each of which* offered disaster specialists and emergency experts to the United States following Katrina, have received limited funds and supplies to date. Wednesday, USAID said it was providing $50,000 to Catholic Relief Services to distribute emergency relief items, including mattresses and hygiene kits, to affected families, but it likely that much more will be needed. Many of the affected people are among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Stan brought back memories of Hurricane Mitch which struck the region in 1998 and killed over 18,000 people — the second deadliest hurricane on record. Most of the victims were killed in mudslides or swept away by floods.
Several organizations are now working to bring relief to victims of the storm.
- Oxfam America
- Care El Salvador | Care USA
- Red Cross programs in El Salvador
- Direct Relief International
Widespread deforestation is believed to have worsened the impact of the storm by leaving barren hillsides vulnerable to mudslides and rivers susceptible to flooding.
* Central American countries that offered aid for Hurricane Katrina, according to The Associated Press:
EL SALVADOR: 100 army troops, including medical personnel and engineers.
GUATEMALA: 80 specialists from army, health and interior departments.
HONDURAS: 134-member medical and rescue brigade. Mayor of capital, Tegucigalpa, offers a similar group.
MEXICO: Navy ship carrying food, amphibious vehicles, helicopters and medical team to arrive Wednesday. Fifteen army vehicles carrying food, health brigades, water-treatment plants and mobile kitchens with capacity to feed 7,000 people a day heading to U.S. border. Government sets up bank accounts to collect donations and donates $1 million. Offer comes from search-and-rescue group called “topos” — “moles” — organized by youths digging through collapsed buildings after Mexico Citys 1985 earthquake.
NICARAGUA: Flooding and sanitation experts.