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Cablegate: Managua Sitrep 1 and Com Disaster Declaration Message

VZCZCXRO8003
OO RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2024/01 2480111
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 050111Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1161
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE 4698
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 002024

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, CA/OCS, WHA/FO
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USAID/W AND USAID/OFDA
SOUTHCOM PLEASE PASS TO JTF-BRAVO
NSC FOR ALVARADO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV CASC MASS AEMR KPAO NU
SUBJECT: MANAGUA SITREP 1 AND COM DISASTER DECLARATION MESSAGE

1. (U) This cable includes a COM Disaster Declaration
Message. PLEASE SEE PARA 4.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY. At 5:15 am local time on Tuesday, August
4, 2007, Hurricane Felix made landfall 20 miles north of the
city of Puerto Cabezas on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.
Initial reports from the region indicate that the category
five storm has displaced more than 38,000 people in the
Atlantic Region. More than 90 percent of houses in Puerto
Cabezas have suffered severe structural damage; 80 percent of
electrical and telecommunications infrastructure has been
damaged. Access to remote areas of ordinarily-isolated
Atlantic Region for assessments have been hampered by the
fact that there are no all-weather roads at all between
Puerto Cabezas and the rest of the country. As of late this
afternoon, the storm had slowed in speed and intensity, which
will likely result in heavy rainfall (over 400mm), flooding
and landslides. The Nicaraguan Government has declared a
state of emergency. Early this afternoon President Ortega
spoke personally with the Ambassador who told him that
Nicaragua "would be grateful for our help." We strongly
believe it is in the USG interest to provide assistance to
Nicaragua.

STORM STATUS AND DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
----------------------------------

3. (U) Hurricane Felix, a Category Five storm, made landfall
at about 5:15am local time this morning 20 miles north of
Puerto Cabezas. Initial reports from the region indicate
that the storm has displaced more than 38,000 people in the
Atlantic Region. Three Nicaraguan fatalities have been
reported so far. More than 90 percent of houses in Puerto
Cabezas have suffered severe structural damage; while in the
communities of Sandy Bay and Bismona, all houses have been
destroyed. The hospital in Puerto Cabezas was partially
destroyed. 80 percent of electrical and telecommunications
infrastructure in Puerto Cabezas has been damaged; while
electricity and phones lines in many smaller communities have
been destroyed. Access to remote areas of
ordinarily-isolated Atlantic Region for assessments have been
hampered by the fact that there are no all-weather roads at
all between Puerto Cabezas and the rest of the country. As
of late this afternoon, the storm had slowed in speed and
intensity, which will likely result in heavy rainfall (over
400mm), flooding and landslides.

COM DISASTER DECLARATION MESSAGE
--------------------------------

4. (U) At the end of a two-hour press conference this
afternoon, the government announced that President Ortega had
declared a state of emergency. Just prior to the press
conference, the Ambassador spoke via phone with President
Ortega who stated that this disaster was beyond the ability
of Nicaragua to respond adequately and that he would be
grateful for our help. He said the most urgent problem they
faced was not having adequate capacity to reach isolated
areas to make damage assessments and distribute relief
supplies. He requested large helo lift support for this
purpose. We strongly believe it is in the USG interest to
provide assistance to Nicaragua. It is the Ambassador's view
that:

-- This disaster is beyond Nicaragua's ability to respond.
-- Nicaragua will accept USG assistance.
-- It is in the interest of the USG to provide assistance.

Per section 4 of the SouthCom Guidance to SAOs and JTFs
regarding Foreign Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief,
the Ambassador also requests that the OFDA/DOS to DOD ExecSec
memo move forward to formally request DOD assistance to
provide relief.

ACS RESPONSE: NO REPORTS OF AMCIT INJURY OR DEATH
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) The consular section has received one phone call and
four email inquiries from American citizens regarding the
status of Hurricane Felix. To date there are no/no reports
of American citizen injuries or deaths. There are relatively
few American citizens living in the remote north-east region
of Nicaragua, the area most affected by Hurricane Felix.
Only 49 American citizens are registered with the consular
section in the RAAN, with 27 registered in neighboring state
of Jinotega. The majority of Americans in this area are
affiliated with missionary organizations. We have attempted
to contact all of the wardens and registrants living in the
areas most affected by Hurricane Felix, including the RAAN,
and the states of Jinotega, Nueva Segovia, and Madriz. We
have also contacted the major religious organizations that
send American citizen missionaries out to these areas. We
have spoken with some 20 people living in the affected area
and all report extensive property damage but no American
citizen injuries or deaths.

6. (SBU) Missionary-affiliated Americans in Puerto Cabezas
reported that the high winds caused extensive damage, ripping
roofs off houses, toppling down trees, and knocking houses
off of their stilts. The missionaries were not aware of any
injuries or deaths in the area but said they would pass on
the Embassy's contact information and contact us immediately
if they came across any American citizens in need of
assistance. One of the Baptist missionaries reported that a
group of 14 Americans who are there temporarily assisting
with their ministry, including an 80 year-old woman, were all
fine. The roof was blown off their house and the contents of
there home severely damaged, but the group sought refuge in
the basement and were not injured by the hurricane. The
regional coordinator for the Sisters of St. Agnes reported
that their convent in Waspam, a small town located along the
Rio Coco River, suffered some damage but that all occupants,
including one American citizen, were fine. The consular
warden in Jinotega confirmed that they had not experienced
injuries and that local groups were leading efforts to
provide shelter and medical assistance. He believes there
are about 12 American citizens in the area and is contacting
them to ascertain their situation.

EMBASSY PLANNING AND RESPONSE
-----------------------------

7. (SBU) The Embassy Hurricane Task Force met this morning
and this afternoon. We also participated in two
Washington-organized teleconferences. We have been in
contact with GON officials and counterparts throughout the
day, receiving status reports and damage assessments. Late
this morning, the Ambassador spoke with the Vice President
and with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and offered an
initial tranche of USD 25,000 in relief assistance authorized
by USAID/OFDA for disaster preparedness. The country team
has already begun the process to request additional
assistance from USAID/OFDA. We are also working to
facilitate the transport of OFDA personnel to the affected
areas within the next 18 hours to conduct damage assessments
and determine what additional USG assistance is appropriate.

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY OUTREACH
-------------------------

8. (U) We have prepared a press release offering our
condolences to those who have been affected by the storm. It
will also note that the U.S. has offered initial funds and is
determining how best to respond to the GON request for
assistance. We will continue to respond to media inquiries
from local, regional and international outlets.
TRIVELLI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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