Tropical Storm Agatha: Our response in Guatemala unfolds

Guatemala, June 4, 2010

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    Mercy Corps   </span>
    Photo: Mercy Corps

This week's Tropical Storm Agatha has left 150,000 persons displaced throughout Guatemala as a result of flooding, damage and destruction of housing, roads and bridges, and mudslides and landslides.

The storm struck on day two of the so-called hurricane season, and, unfortunately, the rains — as the hurricane seasons is also the rainy season — continue to fall.

Overnight, flooding raged through another five villages and wiped out another bridge, washing away possibilities for these villagers to reach family, community centers, their crops and the market.

Our team has been working around the clock to assess the damage and get targeted assistance to those most in need. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Mercy Corps is distributing food rations, water and hygiene kits for initial survival support to over 600 families in communities of Zacapa, El Progreso and Solola regions.

Many of these families have lost their homes in flooding and mudslides and are in temporary camps in schools and churches in the area. In the mid-term, we are shipping three or four water purification systems to pump water from river, filter and purify it, and provide a more long-term, sustainable source of drinking water than bottles and water tankers driving from clean water spots farther afield.

While this initial support is essential for survival, the long-term interventions will be more crucial in engendering and building long-term solutions for these affected families and communities to rehabilitate crop fields, provide seedlings for replanting crops and land rehabilitation efforts. Infrastructure reconstruction will need to happen quickly to reestablish links between communities across rivers and for farmers and families to access markets.