Social workers have begun meeting with individual families in the hardest hit areas, and over the next 2-3 weeks they will meet with all families. We know many will continue to need food and water—it is estimated crops have been damaged, jobs have been lost, and public transportation is seriously compromised, so there will be short- and long-term food deficits. Many families will also need housing repairs, retaining walls to shore up existing housing, or completely new homes.
Program staff returned to normal operations by Wednesday, June 2, while the emergency response team continued to support the local emergency shelters. All 1,800 Common Hope families in the Antigua valley had been accounted for, many dealing with loss of personal belongings, significant mud and water damage in their homes, and lack of food and clean drinking water.
Heavy rainy season expected
In addition to the community and individual family assessments still underway, it is difficult to predict the full scope of relief because it is only the beginning of the 2010 rainy season—five months of rainy season remain in Guatemala, in a year that is predicted to have heavier than normal rainfall.
Forecasters at the Tropical Meteorology Project of Colorado State University and at Weather Services International (WSI) are predicting a very heavy hurricane season this year. WSI says 2010 could be the heaviest season since 2005, which was the busiest ever recorded and the year more than 23 storms hit Guatemala, including hurricane Stan. If the rains return before San Miguel and San Pedro have a chance to dry out, the crisis could easily begin all over again.
While it is too early to thoroughly estimate the scale of our efforts and needs, we do know we will need funds for both the immediate relief and recovery efforts as well as to replenish in preparation for the balance of the rainy season. A number of Common Hope supporters have already responded generously with more than $15,000 $16,500 $25,000 in donations to be used for relief efforts — thank you! For those of you still able to help, please give what you can — your donations will be used where needed most to ensure we are well-positioned to meet the needs of families during the balance of the 2010 rainy season.
In the first few days following the storm, Common Hope went into emergency response mode, getting clean water, food, and clothing to those who needed it, and helping to clear mud and debris. Staff triaged by assessing the geographical areas where storm damage was greatest, identifying the villages of San Miguel Escobar and San Pedro las Huertas. Social workers phoned families where possible and visited families in the worst-hit areas as best they could.
Through the relief efforts thus far, Common Hope has spent close to $15,000 in food and water as well as depleted stockpiles in our warehouse, pantry, and pharmacy (first aid, antibiotic ointments, rubber boots, foodstuffs, etc.). These supplies have been delivered to local community emergency shelters in the hardest hit areas. We have reached the end of our stockpiles and will need to restock in the next few days.
Tropical storm Agatha reached Guatemala on May 28, dumping more than four inches of rain in 12 hours and continuing to rain for three days. In the villages where Common Hope works, San Miguel Escobar and San Pedro las Huertas were the hardest hit. Rains caused landslides and flooding throughout the two communities, collapsing homes and retaining walls, covering roads, sweeping away crops and livestock. Many Common Hope families have needed help with food, clothing, and housing needs.
For all stories related to tropical storm Agatha and the volcano Pacaya eruption, click here.