1998 NCC News Archives

National Council of Churches logo represents the church 
as ecumenical ship, serving the world

CWS Responds to Catastrophic Hurricane Mitch in Latin America

How to Help

Send Funds to CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, Attn. Hurricane Mitch, #LAHD82, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-762-0968.

Who We Are

CWS works in more than 80 countries, including the U.S., in disaster relief, human development and refugee assistance. It is a ministry of the National Council of Churches, the nation’s preeminent ecumenical organization, which includes 34 Protestant and Orthodox member communions with a combined membership of nearly 52 million.

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 1998 ---- Church World Service (CWS) is providing blankets and emergency shipments to Honduras in support of an international appeal responding to Hurricane Mitch, one of the most catastrophic disasters to strike Latin America this century.

CWS has sent $40,000 in Blanket Fund monies directly to the Honduras-based Christian Commission for Development (CCD – Comision Christiana de Desarollo), a long-time CWS partner, and is supporting a $250,000 appeal by Action by Churches Together (ACT) International to assist CCD in relief efforts.

At the request of CCD, CWS is organizing a shipment of commodities valued at $45,000 that will include tents, rice, beans, powdered milk and health and layette kits. ACT International is supporting a CCD project to provide for the short-term needs of 12,000 of the most vulnerable families affected by the hurricane who live in the coastal regions of Honduras, including La Moskitia, Quimistan, and Santa Barbara. This relief program is expected to last through the end of February 1999.

In Nicaragua, CWS will be sending $20,000 from the CWS Director’s Advance Fund to Centro Intereclesial de Estudios Teologicos y Sociales (CIEETS).

Flooding and mudslides have killed at least 9,000 in Honduras and Nicaragua. In northern Nicaragua near Posoltega, between 1,000 to 1,500 people who lived in four villages at the foot of the Casitas volcano are presumed dead after a crater lake collapsed, causing a massive mudslide.

Noemi Espinoza of CCD said in a telephone interview by Joseph Moran of the North Carolina CROP office that the disaster was too horrible to describe. "The devastation won’t be felt just this week and next, but will be with us for a long time to come," she said. Some have estimated it might take a full 40 years to recover from this disaster, which has destroyed more than half of Honduras’ infrastructure and uprooted some 300,000 people.

Luis F. Bueso, an eyewitness to the disaster in Honduras who has been in contact with the CWS office in Elkhart, said the disaster was "unimaginable."

"In Honduras we don’t have the necessary structure to withstand a calamity of this nature," Mr. Bueso explained. "The houses of the lower class in Honduras are built of cardboard, clay, plastic bags, mud, adobe, stones and wood, and were located on high-risk zones like hills or riversides."

"Among the population of developed countries it will be hard to conceive of our situation, but here in Honduras almost nobody can afford to pay an insurance policy," he said. "Therefore people who lost their possessions have lost them for good."

There is also a severe lack of medical supplies and physicians. Mr. Bueso reported a heartbreaking story. "I just saw a man here in Tegucigalpa carrying his dead, two-year-old daughter on his shoulder, who said she had died 10 hours earlier because of the lack of medical attention."

In addition to the shipment of commodities, CWS will assist efforts to transport a volunteer medical team from Cuba to Honduras to provide needed medical assistance.

Based on further assessments elsewhere in the Caribbean area, other agencies may seek funding from ACT.

Areas of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico were also affected by Hurricane Mitch.

-end-

Contact: NCC News Department

NCC Home Page
NCC News Service Index