On Tuesday November 3, the Nicaraguan government released the seven cargo containers that had been impounded for 3-4 months. This gave the Quest/Institute of John XXIII 140 tons of relief supplies including 25 tons of rice, 20,000 pairs of shoes and 50 tons of clothing. Also $10,000 in Quest emergency funds enabled the Institute to purchase 25 tons of beans, plus stocks of sugar, cooking oil, plastic sheeting, and other critical products in Managua.
Amazing devastation in the northwest. Bridges out, sinkholes in the roads, people trudging to and fro carrying supplies and seeking relatives. The mud slide area near the Casitas Volcano where 2,000+ people died, was one of "awesome devastation".
Access to northern Nicaragua, cut off at North highway at Tipitapa (the two lakes have merged) is opened today, Thursday Nov. 12. In Sebaco the Rio Grande de Matagalpa, cut a new channel through the Pan Am Highway. The bridge in la Trinidad was heavily damaged.
Helicopters in the early going have been in very sort supply. The Institute spent the weekend negotiating for a helicopter. On Tuesday afternoon, 9th a trip was scheduled.
Although the communities of Ocotal and Esteli were cut off by the storm, the Institute used funds already in place in local banks to purchase local goods to mount relief efforts to nearby communities.
The national relief effort is going quite slowly but gathering momentum as more helicopters arrive and relief coordination improves. Completion of the temporary bridge at Tipitapa is crucial for the relief of northern and eastern communities. It is still too early to judge reports of political use of aid but it is clear that many people in Nicaragua believe that their government was slow to recognize the severity of the damaged and slow to organize a response.
Since Nicaragua and Honduras are entering their "dry" season, there will not be a new national crop harvest until July of 1999. Long term food aid is obviously crucial. others press for suspension of deportations.
Overall Long Term