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Latin America and Caribbean

Storms hit Caribbean countries and Mexico

© Reuters
Hurricane Wilma pounded Mexico and Cuba last weekend, causing widespread damage.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, 24 October 2005 – Hurricane Wilma and tropical storm Alpha pounded Mexico, Cuba and Haiti over the weekend, causing widespread damage in all countries. The storms’ effects add to the destruction already inflicted by Hurricane Stan, which forced nearly half a million people across Central America and Mexico to flee their homes earlier this month.

In Haiti, 27 people were reported dead in the town of St Marc as a result of tropical storm Alpha. The city of Leogane, west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, is flooded after a nearby river overflowed its banks. In Port-au-Prince itself, another three people were killed.

In Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, many hotels were heavily damaged by Hurricane Wilma. In the resort city of Cancun, downed trees, power lines and other debris have blocked many roads. “In Mexico, it’s mainly the tourist areas that are affected by the hurricane,” said Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean.

In Havana, Cuba, scuba diving teams pulled nearly 250 people from their flooded homes early Monday, as reported by Associated Press. Early and widespread evacuations have probably saved many lives - more than 625,000 people were evacuated into temporary shelters, particularly in the western part of the island.

© Reuters
A mother and child seeking refugee at a temporary shelter after Hurricane Wilma hit Mexico.

Year of disasters

“We have been in full speed purchasing and stockpiling supplies following Hurricane Stan, so that we can be ready to provide further support,” said Mr. Kastberg. “So far, Wilma hasn’t impacted children directly in countries like Cuba and Mexico. We are gearing up in Haiti and Dominican Republic for Alpha, and what’s coming next.”

Mr. Kastberg said that the impact of this year’s disasters on children in the region has been unprecedented. “We have half a million people affected by Hurricane Stan, nearly one third children. In Grenada, all but three schools are lost in the storms. In Guyana, some 100 schools are forced to close due to floods,” he said.

UNICEF is seeking close to $9 million for the humanitarian effort and has already diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from its regular development programmes in the affected countries to help respond to the crisis.

“We are pleased with the rapid response by donors. After Hurricane Stan, half of the resources we need have been met, which enables us to continue with emergency supplies and save children’s lives,” said Mr. Kastberg.




24 October 2005:
UNICEF Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, says the organization is making a special effort to help countries affected by Hurricane Wilma.

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