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Cablegate: Managua Sitrep 1 and Com Disaster Declaration Message

VZCZCXRO4780
OO RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2366 2922341
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 192341Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1543
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE 4844
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 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 MANAGUA 002366

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. The US
Ambassador to Nicaragua requests authority for $50,000 for immediate
disaster response. Funds will be programmed with local partners to
meet the most urgent needs. Programming details will follow. See
Para 7

2. (U) Summary: A low pressure system stalled over the Yucatan
peninsula around the 9th of October, setting up a weather pattern
that has continued to drop rain in many parts of Central America.
The northern Pacific coast of Nicaragua has been especially hard hit
by that phenomenon and the subsequent weather patterns have
continued to produce precipitation in that area of the country. The
areas of Chinandega and Leon have been particularly affected, with
thousands of families being evacuated to escape the threat from
flooding or possible landslides from the areas near the Telica and
San Cristobal volcanoes. President Ortega appeared on local
television from Matagalpa discussing the problems on 18 October,
2007. On October 19, 2007, the first lady read a disaster
declaration for the entire country on television asking for
international assistance.

3. (U) On 14 October, the La Prensa newspaper reported that
President Ortega declared a red alert for the Department of
Chinandega on the basis of floods that in the area. The official
report from Civil Defense for Chinandega lists 4,210 people
affected, 2048 evacuated, 19 shelters operating, and more than 533
kilometers of roads infrastructure damaged by the flood waters. The
crop for the 3rd growing season was destroyed for many families,
prompting widespread concerns about food security for the affected
area. All except 3 of Chinandega's shelters were deactivated when
the alert level was reduced from red to green yesterday. This
change was announced at a meeting in Chinandega between the local
and national officials. Local leaders disagreed with this decision


4. (U) The runoff effects from the mountains in the north have
continued to put pressure on rivers and tributaries causing many to
overflow there banks. At about 1030 p.m. on the evening of 17
October, the Rio Grande River went over its banks in the city of
Matagalpa, reportedly flooding additional homes, affecting another
1,710 persons and causing local officials to open 14 more shelters.
Additionally, 5 people were reported to have died, and another 2
disappeared. Infrastructure- 270 homes affected, (250 of those
semi-destroyed) 250 km of road and 6 bridges affected These numbers
are reflected in Civil Defense preliminary report (3rd special part,
dated 18 Oct.) Numbers in the national press are dramatically
higher.

5. (U) During a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today, First Lady
Rosario Ortega read a statement that declared a disaster on behalf
of the government. In that request the government asked for
international assistance. From observations in the field by NGO
partners and international organizations, assistance beyond what the
government is able to provide to the people affected is necessary.
This assessment is corroborated by a USAID/OFDA Consultant on the
ground in the affected area.

6. (U) It is the Ambassador's view that;

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

7. (U) The Mission continues to access needs as more information
in coming in from local partners and government officials.
Preliminary priority needs include local procurement of emergency
relief items including food, clean water, and the sanitary supplies.
Potential partners include Catholic Relief Services, Adventist
Development and Relief Agency, Project Concern International, or
Save the Children Foundation among others.

T

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