In the final weeks of October, 1998, one of the most recent catastrophes in the Western Hemisphere was taking place as Hurricane Mitch, the most powerful Atlantic Hurricane ever during the month of October stalled out just off the coast of Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America.
Even though, Mitch's winds were as high as 190 mph, the real effects that were being felt were in the inner mountain regions of Honduras and Nicaragua, where tremendous amounts of rainfall were being reported. Mitch brought to light a serious problem in third world countries to not only hurricanes, but also other severe storms. The folks at Hurricaneville plan to look in-depth at this problem, and look at some solutions.
Over the course of 48 to 72 hours, approximately 3 to 6 feet, not inches, feet of rain fell within the mountainous terrain of this region, and that led to tremendous flooding, raging rivers, and mudslides that ultimately killed about 11,000 people in both Honduras and Nicaragua. Many attributed the devastating storm to the phenomena known as global warming.
However, in places such as those countries in Central America such as Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize, which has been hit hard by two Category Four Hurricanes over the past two years, there are more obvious problems such as poor living conditions, land management, and poverty. In other words, these underdeveloped third-world countries lack the essential infrastructure to handle such disasters.
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This is not to say that the roads, bridges and some buildings in parts of the United States would be able to withstand some 75 inches of rain in 72 hours. But, countries such as Honduras don't have the support mechanisms in place for relief efforts, emergency management, and hazard mitigation to better prepare and equip itself for the smallest of storms let alone the monster that was Hurricane Mitch in October, 1998.
For example, a year later in October, 1999, the remnants of what was Tropical Depression Eleven made landfall in Southeastern Mexico, and the Yucatan Peninsula. What resulted were heavy rains and flooding that cost the lives of some 400 people.
Now that death toll wasn't as high as that suffered in Honduras and Nicaragua during Mitch, but it is certainly higher than it would have been if it happened in the United States, and the conditions were no where nearly as bad as with Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
There have been similar problems in other parts of the world. Especially in the months following the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in Central America. For example, about a year or so later, heavy rains in the Northeastern coastal region of Venezuela caused raging waters, flooding, and mudslides that took the lives of approximately 20,000 people.
Several months later, a series of cyclones moved over the Southeastern African country of Mozambique, and dumped a large amount of rain over that region, which caused several rivers to crest above flood level and ruin much of the land there as well as leaving hundreds dead.
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What the folks at Hurricaneville plan to do is bring to light the plight of these countries, and how they are trying to cope in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. This powerful hurricane still has a tremendous impact on these countries some three and a half years later as the countries of Honduras and Nicaragua decades behind where they were before the disaster.
We will analyze what happened in Hurricane Mitch that brought about the heavy rains, and look at what is currently being done today to help Central America better prepare for when the next disaster. We will also propose some solutions to the problem as well.
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