September 6, 2007

Putting Felix to bed - or trying to

Honduran President Mel Zelaya held a press conference regarding the status of the country this morning after Hurricane Felix. Reports were given by several heads of various business and government organizations, including COPECO (Honduran national emergency agency).

I'm going to relay what I can from that press conference as well as various other Honduran reports today. The sound of the press conference was cutting out and the questions being asked by reporters couldn't be heard. That, along with the difficulty of understanding very fast Spanish speakers and taking notes in English at the same time means that I only have the highlights.

President Zelaya stated that the red alert has been lifted for the entire country with the exception of low lying cities along the northern part of the Ulúa river. He said that the sun is shining all over Honduras right now.
He stressed that international businesses and investors have nothing to worry about. The country, including Puerto Cortés and all airports, are functioning as normal. An adequate supply of gasoline is available.

Tourist areas have no damage. The first chartered tourist flights will arrive on Monday and cruises will be arriving soon. Flooding around the Copán area was in agricultural areas. The Minister of Tourism reported losses of U.S.$5 million due to tourist and flight cancellations.

President Zelaya said that Nicaragua suffered much more damage than Honduras. Honduras air force and navy have been helping our neighbor Nicaragua. In fact, the first plane to arrive with aid for the La Mosquitia area of Nicaragua was a Honduran plane.

Hurricane Felix floodingThe most affected, as always, are the very poor with houses of clay and sticks and palm frond roofs which are often located in the high risk river border or low lying areas. No deaths or even injuries were mentioned, except for a police officer who died in a traffic accident.

Some small bridges have been damaged. The flooding yesterday has caused some road problems. Villanueva, Potrerillos, and Pimienta experienced damage to agricultural crops. Four schools are without roofs. Crews are working to restore electric and phone service to those areas that lost service yesterday.

rescue Hurricane FelixCOPECO was given congratulations for their organized work and given credit the lack of human casualties. Food and supplies are being sent to the shelters that need them.

In Cortés, Copán, Ocotepeque, and Santa Rita and El Progresso in Yoro, many of the schools are still being used as shelters so there will be no school tomorrow. In the rest of the country, classes started back today or will tomorrow.

Later, in an interview of a woman in a shelter in Villaneuva who was asked if they need food or supplies in the shelter, she loudly proclaimed, "We don't need food! We need the government to fix the bordos (riverbanks). They promised to do it after Hurricane Mitch (in 1998) and they still haven't done it!"

In La Ceiba, where flooding occurred for a short time, a newsperson complained, "For decades, these things have been happening to the same roads after a few minutes of rain! Shame on our mayor!"

Hurricane Felix floodingJapan has already donated US $6.7 million in emergency aid and President Zelaya will be meeting with the various embassies tomorrow, I'm sure to ask for more aid.

I plan for this to be my last Hurricane Felix weather report although I have some ideas about a couple of other related articles. I hope you have found the weather reports helpful. Thank you for all the nice comments and emails. I have passed along your thanks to all of those people who helped to compile the information from different parts of Honduras.

I guess the real thanks should go to Televicab for not losing my internet connection throughout the past few days. I was having tons of problems for two weeks before the hurricane and it has been out a few times already today, but it worked perfectly during the weather reporting period!

Oh, and just one reminder: Some areas of Honduras are still experiencing problems with electrical and phone service, as La Ceiba was last night. In many cases this has nothing to do with storms or flooding, so if you can't connect with your friends or relatives, stay calm, try not to worry, and try again in a day or two.

All photos from La Prensa, September 6, 2007 except this one of La Gringa's garden a few minutes ago:

No Hurricane Felix here

Yikes! Before I could get this optimistic article posted, it has started raining heavily in Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela is flooding at this moment. Rio Choluteca is overflowing its borders. The special TV report is showing vendors in the market in water up to their waists trying to remove their products to safety. One woman was drowned.

After the video finished, the announcer said, "Hmph! Como siempre." (Hmph! Like always.) and went back to what he was discussing previously.

Previous Hurricane Felix articles:

Flooding in Northwest Honduras

Felix doesn't live here anymore
Felix is no match for the Honduran mountains
3 p.m. Honduras weather update
Hurricane Felix afternoon update - Honduras
Lots of people looking for Hurricane Felix information
No problems yet from Hurricane Felix, 9 a.m. Tuesday
We are taking Hurricane Felix seriously now
Hurricane Felix heading for Honduras and Bay Islands

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