Thursday, August 26, 2010

Heavy Rains Damage Assessment

Tropical storm activity off the Pacific coast of Guatemala has been responsible for above normal rainfall in the western parts of Guatemala. This has resulted in numerous landslides, flooding rivers, and washed out bridges and roads. The departments most affected include Escuintla, Chimaltenango, Izabal, Guatemala, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Huehuetenango, San Marcos, and Zacapa.

So far this rainy season 20,000 persons have been affected and over 3,000 homes have been damaged. More than 400 persons are living in shelters.

President Álvaro Colom has announced that government funds reserved for disaster relief and infrastructure repair are nearly exhausted and he is reaching the limit of his capacity to respond to the need. Collapsed bridges and roads need to be repaired and the president has demanded that Congress increase the budget for this work by Q1.3 billion plus approve the US $200 million appropriation already pending.

Flooding in Morales

The heavy rains we've been getting in Guatemala are causing rivers to flood. Numerous rivers throughout Guatemala have been running at or above alert levels for weeks. When we get an especially heavy rainfall over a wide area like we did two nights ago, the rivers which are already high can overflow their banks and cause flooding. This usually occurs one or two days after a heavy rain because it takes time for the runoff to come off the mountains, down the creeks and tributaries, and into the major rivers like the Motagua that runs through Izabal.

Last night (Wednesday night) the Motagua overflowed its banks in the Morales area and caused flooding in Colonia La Bomba and the community of Creek Zarco. 30 homes are damaged and 164 persons affected.