Monday, December 17, 2007

Tropical storm “Olga”

Six weeks after Tropical Storm “Noel” the country got hit again by Storm “Olga” with 145 mm precipitation in 24 hrs! Our huricane season ends in November and nobody expected such a late storm, barely have the main highways, bridges and canal systems provisionally been repaired which now need to be tackled again.

On can try to be objective about such natural desasters, especially when one hears at the same time about the tremendous floods in Mexico and Bangladesh with much greater devastations. However seeing such reports on television and experiencing yourself in your neighbourhood is a different reality!
Thousands of mainly poor people are homeless, many havel lost family members, lost all their meager possesions with little expectations of economic recovery. For such people there are no insurances, and governement or NGO support is minimal.
One of the major problems for the population is the widespread destruction of the already in normal times precarious water supply systems, and in many towns water is only sporadically supplied by tanker trucks.

Although the quantities of rainfall of “Olga” do not seem as high as “Noel” the damge especially in the North of the Island is tremendous, suposedly caused by mismanagement of the dam systems, where overflow gates have been opened causing a never experienced flood in Santiago where whole neighbourhoods have been washed away and causing widespread damage in the main agricultural zones of the country. The expectation is that there will be at least a reduction of 60% in Export (mainly Organic) Bananas for the next 6 to 10 Months, a loss of over US$20 million of income for the country. This obviously has deep repercussions as producers from central america will fill the void, a lost marketposition is allways hard to recuperate.
Our own export of Bananas has presently been reduced by 50% , so we are facing difficult times ahead in order to keep our heads over water until we recuperate volumes by April 2008.