Tag: Tropical Storm Agatha

Jun 23 2010

In memory

In addition to what we had reported earlier, it has been confirmed that nine sponsored children died in the ensuing mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Agatha. We have personally notified each sponsor individually of the loss.*

Today, we want to honor the memory of those nine children who died in the mudslides. The short video below is a small tribute to our dear friends.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

*As is our policy, we do not release names of the deceased until the sponsors have been notified first.

Jun 3 2010

Mudslides devastate towns “…in the blink of an eye”

The following is an account from Luis CocÛn, CFCAís communications liaison in Guatemala, who visited communities to report on the damage caused by Tropical Storm Agatha over the weekend.

It was 6:15 p.m. on Saturday when a loud crack followed by tons of mud, rocks and trees wiped away 26 homes in San Antonio Palopo, taking the lives of at least 18 people, including CFCA sponsored children. It is unknown how many sponsored members have died from the storms.

A purse and a pair of boots are recovered from a home after mudslides in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala.

Many families were having dinner and with no previous notice. They lost everything in the blink of an eye. Local authorities estimate that there are another 32 homes in a high risk area and can collapse at any time. Many families are staying with relatives, some in churches, the municipality building and in the CFCA office building in San Antonio.

A lot of people cannot make a living anymore. Mothers who weave lost their weaving materials, fathers that fish lost their little canoes and day laborers cannot work because they lost their tools. Children have been left orphans. Entire families lost their lives, beds, clothes and everything they had.

A total of 15 bodies were buried Sunday morning. The people of San Antonio Palopo came together in solidarity to say goodbye in a town procession to the local cemetery. Monday, four more bodies were buried. Rescue teams continue searching for people with nothing more than their bare hands and a few hand tools. Only their faith gives them strength to persist.

CFCA staff stand at the base of a deadly mudslide in San Antonio Palopo, Guatemala.

A man who is still searching the mud for family members said, ìI am going to look for them until I find their bodies. I have lost everything. I donít have a home or money. I havenít changed clothing until today. Neighbors gave me clothes because I have nothing left.î

Pedro lost two children and his wife, and now it is only him and his little girl that must find strength to continue.

ìAll of our people are sad. Our town is in tears,î said a mother of a missing sponsored boy.

Antonio Perez Diaz, a CFCA social worker in San Antonio Palopo said, ìI am from San Antonio and I feel the pain of my people. Yesterday, we did not feel like eating. There is a lot of pain and tears.î

A father of a sponsored boy who died recounted the evening of the storms:

ìWe were all together at home. There was a lot of rain. The water always comes through here, but this time it was too much. By the time we realized our home was swept away, my boy and I ran one way and my wife and my girl ran the other way. We went to my father-in-lawís where we thought we would be safe.

“[My son] was in that home when all of a sudden there was a big crack and when I turned, my father-in-lawís home was gone, too. I searched and I found my wife and my daughter, but I could not find [my son]. He did not make it. They found his body at the door with debris on his head. He was dead. We buried him on Sunday.

ìI donít know where to start over again. My hope is to support my wife and my little girl, I need to work hard and continue life, and this is how we are now.î

Diaz said, ìYour thoughts and prayers are very valuable to us. Here we feel that we are not alone through your support. We have lost loved ones, but we thank CFCA for the solidarity and for sharing our struggle, and being a source of hope at this moment.î

The people of San Antonio have stepped forward to give a helping hand to their neighbor. We have seen how this has brought the occasion to rebuild a stronger community.

Please visit the CFCA website for more information about the impact of Tropical Storm Agatha on CFCA communities, including the following news stories:

Community struggles with loss, uncertainty after deadly storm

CFCA helps families after tragic storm in Central America

Four sponsored children die in Guatemala mudslides

Jun 1 2010

Dan’s early report from Guatemala

Dan Pearson, CFCA’s director of international operations, was at the Hermano Pedro project in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, when Tropical Storm Agatha hit. Dan will continue visiting projects in Guatemala and helping staff assess damages from the storm. The following is Dan’s experience this past weekend.

We ended up receiving 150 people last night. Some of them are from around here and have lost their homes or were evacuated, others got stuck in San Lucas when the roads were blocked, and some were from a bus that slid off the road during the rain.

This morning the rain has stopped, and the clouds briefly cleared enough to see the volcanoes behind the CFCA center. We could see at least half a dozen mudslides on the volcano closer to us. Then the clouds came back. The radio says the worst of the rain will start early tomorrow morning and run all morning. They are also reporting that already some of the rivers around here are running higher than they were during Hurricanes Stan and Mitch.

Some people who had been separated from their families left on foot this morning to find their families. Others took advantage of the break in the rain to try to get to the houses of relatives or check on their homes. Everyone is afraid of having their things stolen while they are away. We still have at least 100 here. The city said they would bring food for them this morning, but nothing has arrived yet. We made coffee for everyone, and Brother Jorge (Hermano Pedro project coordinator) is now cooking some porridge for them. Actually, some of the mothers are cooking the porridge because none of us knew how to make such large quantities, and we didn’t want to ruin the batch.

After the devastation of Hurricane Stan in 2005, the Hermano Pedro project implemented the practice of holding two quetzales (about $0.25) per child per month for disasters like this. That fund will be used for immediate response. Because this storm has hit some parts of the country where CFCA has a lot of sponsored children, it is likely many have been affected.

Unless the weather clears up considerably, we probably won’t know until at least mid-week how many sponsored families are affected or what the exact damage is. Some of the Hermano Pedro staff live in different parts of the country than where they work. The storm hit on the weekend, so some of those staff members will have difficulty just getting back to their subprojects with so many roads blocked by mudslides. We heard that the costal route from San Lucas to Guatemala City is closed indefinitely because a bridge was washed away. Other routes in and out are also blocked by mud, rocks and trees. I don’t think it’s possible to get to Guatemala City from San Lucas at this time.

Related links:
Read more about the storm.

Sponsors and others wishing to help may donate to CFCAís Disaster Assistance Fund. One hundred percent of donations to this fund are sent to CFCA projects to help individuals and families affected by disasters. Funds donated are used where they are most needed, and CFCA retains discretion as to the use of the funds. In addition to emergency relief, contributions may be used for long-term assistance.