By: Sydney Morton, American Red Cross
Lava, ash and mudflows spewed in to communities for several days after the initial eruption of Fuego Volcano. More than one month later, Red Cross teams are still providing aid and comfort to survivors in the Guatemala City area.
The more than 1,600 volunteers on the ground “are exhausted, but their resolve is unwavering,” said Francesca Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). He added, “These families are our priority”.
Understanding the impact
The facts are both staggering and heartbreaking: over 100 lives lost, more than 200 reported missing, and as many as 1.7 million affected.
And yet, the total impact of this tragic disaster may not be fully understood. Fine ash, which fell across half of the country, contaminated water sources. Areas critical to crops and livestock—which families rely on for their livelihoods—are impacted. In addition to the immediate medical needs of survivors with burns and respiratory issues, longer-term care is needed including for psychosocial support. Damage to medical facilities and critical infrastructure has also made accessibility more challenging.
Lifesaving aid for survivors
While the long-term impact of this devastating disaster may still be unknown, one thing is certain: “we will be with the survivors for as long as they need us”, says Walter Cotte, IFRC’s Regional Director the Americas.
Over 130 tons of lifesaving relief supplies including food, breathing masks and hygiene kits have been distributed. Immediately following the eruption, emergency responders from the Guatemala Red Cross provided medical care and set up blood services, in addition to relief donation centers.
Red Cross teams are continuing to provide community members with shelter and psychosocial care. The global Red Cross Red Crescent network is also focused on the individual economic impact of this disaster. Cash-based assistance is being provided to help families restore their livelihoods.
Global partners stand with local communities
The American Red Cross pledged $525,000 to the Guatemalan Red Cross to support the most vulnerable volcano-affected people. This contribution will “move the needle and empower affected people to jumpstart their own recovery”, says Noé Hatchuel, Sr. International Emergency Field Operations Officer at the American Red Cross.
Partners from around the globe are contributing to relief efforts. “This is exactly what the global Red Cross Red Crescent network is about. Response starts local—and as needs grow, so does support from regional and global partners”, Hatchuel added.
As the ash clears and recovery begins, the Red Cross will continue standing with communities impacted by Fuego Volcano.
For more updates:
Follow @CRGuatemalteca on Twitter or @CruzRojaGT on Facebook.
Are you looking for a loved one?
The Guatemalan Red Cross is accepting tracing requests for cases in which family contact has been lost due to the Fuego volcano eruption. If you are looking for a missing relative, you can speak to a caseworker at your local American Red Cross office. Please find your nearest chapter by clicking this link and entering your zip code.
For inquiries concerning U.S. citizens missing in Guatemala, please contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 and http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/overseas-citizens-services.shtml.
Media inquiries only:
In Panama: Diana Medina, IFRC, diana.medina[at]ifrc.org
In Washington DC: American Red Cross, media[at]redcross.org