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Hurricane Felix leaves disaster in RAAN | Sep 5, 2007

The Autonomous Northern Atlantic Region (RAAN) in Nicaragua was declared to be in 'state of disaster' by the national government, after hurricane Felix lashed the area yesterday morning, leaving thousands of people affected, nine confirmed deaths, and large damage to private and public property.

Felix hit Nicaraguan soil just before 5 AM, yesterday, Tuesday (September 4), north of the city of Bilwi (the departmental capital, also known as Puerto Cabezas). The hurricane hit land measuring 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which is the highest categorization for a hurricane. Torrential rain and devastating winds (of up to 260 km/hr) destroyed nearby communities including Krukira, Bismuna, and Sandy Bay, and, on a less devastating level, left Bilwi damaged.

Before noon Felix was downgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane, and it headed westward, moving to the mining triangle and next heading to the mountainous Segovias region, with winds blowing up to 100 km/hr. In these areas the destruction was fortunately limited. The hurricane reached Honduras at approximately 3.30 PM on Tuesday, and at the end of the afternoon it was downgraded to the level of a tropical storm.

Currently, Nicaraguan authorities maintain alert for possible landslides that might threaten communities located at the foot of a mountain or hill. The continuous rain has increased the risk of landslides.

Preliminary damage reports

The evaluation teams are still collecting data about the damage due to the hurricane, but according to the information provided by the Civil Defense and other information published in the media (please note: this article is written in the afternoon of Wednesday, September 50) there are about 40,000 people affected by Felix, 15,000 people are moved to shelters, and about 60 people remain missing. About 9,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed, and there are nine confirmed deaths.

The major destruction was reported in the communities of Krukira, Bismuna, and Sandy Bay. Damage was furthermore reported, in diminishing order, at Bilwi, Waspán, the mining trianble (Rosita, Siuna, and Bonanza), Jinotega, and some areas of Nueva Segovias (damage was rather limited at the last two sites).

In the areas that were most severely hit there are reports of damage to the system of telecommunication and the powergrid, as well as to public structure like wharfs, schools, and medical centers. Cleaning and reconstruction work started yesterday afternoon and will continue in the coming period.

Providing support to the damaged areas

In other regions of Nicaragua the population in general, private companies, organizations, institutions, and other parties started yesterday afternoon to organize shipments of food, clothing, money, and other materials to the people affected by Hurricane Felix. In residential areas, offices, universities, schools, institutions, and companies there collections are being held to support the affected areas.

The international community has also started to respond. Since yesterday, the World Food Program (WFP) distributed several dozens of tons of food to the affected areas in the RAAN area, and today more shipments are underway. Organizations like CARE and Save the Children have reported to send food or hygienic supplies.

Everybody who can be of any support can contact a collection center set up in the media buildings or in residential areas.

The University of the Autonomous Region of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast (URACCAN) announced that their offices in Managua have been converted to a collection center, and they assured to take care of sending all materials to the affected zone. They can be found at the following address:

Puente El Edén,
1c arriba 2c al sur,

Everybody in the possibility to help can visit this center. Other supporting organizations include the Red Cross or the Nicaraguan Boy Scouts.