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Cablegate: October Floods: Usg Initial Response

VZCZCXRO6392
OO RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2372/01 2952245
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 222245Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1551
INFO RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
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
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 002372

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: OCTOBER FLOODS: USG INITIAL RESPONSE

REF: MANAGUA 2366

1. Summary. Preliminary reports by Nicaraguan authorities indicate that 20,266 people have been affected by floods, mostly in the northwest of the country, but scattered over other regions as well, with 8 known deaths and two missing persons. There are no known U.S. citizen casualties. The floods have most seriously affected agricultural crops, including beans and corn, and caused significant damage to road infrastructures. USAID is working with its partners to assess the disbursement of the USD 50,000 emergency relief authorized by OFDA upon the Ambassador's declaration of a disaster. Initial assessments indicate that the greatest needs are for food, seeds and tools, and road infrastructure. The GON is promising an updated report of damages on October 23.

Northern Departments Worst Hit
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. The GON's Center for Disaster Operations released a
preliminary report on October 21 showing that there are
20,266 people affected from the flooding (4,008) families.
There were 8 known dead, and two missing persons. The
Nicaraguan authorities report that 6,470 persons were
evacuated from danger areas and moved to 76 temporary
shelters. The areas worst hit are in the northwest of the
country, in the departments of Chinandega and Leon; however,
there was also serious damage in Esteli, Jinotega and
Matagalpa, and the victims of the flooding are scattered
throughout the country in over 170 communities in 9 different
Departments. The Nicaraguan Center for Disaster Operations
has promised an updated assessment on/or about October 23.

Cumulative Effect - October Floods on Felix's Heels
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. Coming on the heels of Hurricane Felix, the cumulative
effect of this round of flooding, especially on roads and
crops, is significant. The Nicaraguan Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry released calculations last week that
predict a crop loss of 19,526 hectares in the west and north
of the country as a result of the rains and flooding. This
calculated total is broken down between the local staples,
with 14 percent loss of the bean crop (14,376 hectares) and
3.9 percent loss of the corn crop (5150 hectares). USAID
partners are conducting surveys and report that there are
short term immediate food needs in several flood-affected
communities.

4. Initial reports indicate that the damage to the frail
road infrastructure has been considerable as well. While the
Pan American Highway is currently open, traffic is restricted
and slow on several sections due to surface deterioration and
subsidence. Most major arteries are passable, but the side
roads to small villages are in some cases nearly impassable.
There have been small scale mud- and land-slides that have
blocked traffic on some roads; however, with the saturated
ground, there exists a possibility for future large scale
mud- or land-slides, which could be catastrophic.

Mission Planning and Response
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. The Embassy's flood disaster working group met on October
22 to review the state of the flood-related damage and assess
Mission response. USAID is accepting proposals from its
partners for the distribution of the USD 50,000 authorized
for immediate disbursement in response to the COM disaster
declaration message. Local partners are examining other
options, including reallocation of existing in-country stocks
of emergency relief supplies to meet the immediate need of
flood victims. USAID OFDA representative visited the
affected region on October 21 and reported that the major
needs include food, seeds and tools, and road infrastructure.
As these assessments proceed, it may be necessary to
identify additional funds to meet the medium term recovery
needs for the affected regions.

ACS - No Known American Victims
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. The Embassy has released a warden notice in response to
the flooding. The American Citizen Services section of the
Embassy dispatched a locally engaged employee to make contact
in person with the wardens in Chinandega and Esteli. There
are no known American casualties, and there have been no
requests to the Embassy from U.S. citizens for assistance
related to the floods. There are 605 U.S. citizens
registered with the Embassy as resident in the four most
affected departments: 194 in Chinandega, 235 in Leon, 150 in
Esteli, and 26 in Jinotega.

Public Diplomacy
- - - - - - - - -

7. The Embassy released a press release on October 22
announcing that the U.S. is donating USD 50,000 in relief
funds as an initial response to the flood disaster. The
press release highlights that the OFDA assistance aims to
assist those who have suffered losses of property, crops, and
infrastructure. Also noted is the fact that the U.S.
Government has donated more than USD 3.2 million over the
past two months for hurricane Felix recovery and provided USD
7 million through OPIC for home reconstruction loans on the
Atlantic Coast.

TRIVELLI

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