Jun 1 2010

Dan’s early report from Guatemala

Dan Pearson, CFCA’s director of international operations, was at the Hermano Pedro project in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, when Tropical Storm Agatha hit. Dan will continue visiting projects in Guatemala and helping staff assess damages from the storm. The following is Dan’s experience this past weekend.

We ended up receiving 150 people last night. Some of them are from around here and have lost their homes or were evacuated, others got stuck in San Lucas when the roads were blocked, and some were from a bus that slid off the road during the rain.

This morning the rain has stopped, and the clouds briefly cleared enough to see the volcanoes behind the CFCA center. We could see at least half a dozen mudslides on the volcano closer to us. Then the clouds came back. The radio says the worst of the rain will start early tomorrow morning and run all morning. They are also reporting that already some of the rivers around here are running higher than they were during Hurricanes Stan and Mitch.

Some people who had been separated from their families left on foot this morning to find their families. Others took advantage of the break in the rain to try to get to the houses of relatives or check on their homes. Everyone is afraid of having their things stolen while they are away. We still have at least 100 here. The city said they would bring food for them this morning, but nothing has arrived yet. We made coffee for everyone, and Brother Jorge (Hermano Pedro project coordinator) is now cooking some porridge for them. Actually, some of the mothers are cooking the porridge because none of us knew how to make such large quantities, and we didn’t want to ruin the batch.

After the devastation of Hurricane Stan in 2005, the Hermano Pedro project implemented the practice of holding two quetzales (about $0.25) per child per month for disasters like this. That fund will be used for immediate response. Because this storm has hit some parts of the country where CFCA has a lot of sponsored children, it is likely many have been affected.

Unless the weather clears up considerably, we probably won’t know until at least mid-week how many sponsored families are affected or what the exact damage is. Some of the Hermano Pedro staff live in different parts of the country than where they work. The storm hit on the weekend, so some of those staff members will have difficulty just getting back to their subprojects with so many roads blocked by mudslides. We heard that the costal route from San Lucas to Guatemala City is closed indefinitely because a bridge was washed away. Other routes in and out are also blocked by mud, rocks and trees. I don’t think it’s possible to get to Guatemala City from San Lucas at this time.

Related links:
Read more about the storm.

Sponsors and others wishing to help may donate to CFCAís Disaster Assistance Fund. One hundred percent of donations to this fund are sent to CFCA projects to help individuals and families affected by disasters. Funds donated are used where they are most needed, and CFCA retains discretion as to the use of the funds. In addition to emergency relief, contributions may be used for long-term assistance.

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