An emergency airlift of food aid from WFP has arrived in the Nicaraguan coastal town of Bilwi (formerly Puerto Cabezas) for distribution to hungry residents who bore some of the worst of Hurricane Felix’s punishing Tuesday landfall.
Because WFP has food stocks for its long-term projects in the area, we were able to respond with unusual speed
WFP Deputy Director Gordana Jerger
Preliminary estimates by WFP indicate as many as 60,000 people were directly affected in the northern Nicaraguan region where high winds destroyed or damaged homes and commercial buildings.
Despite these losses and the hardship, humanitarian officials were relieved that Hurricane Felix did not cause more damage during its trajectory through Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
“Hurricane Felix had the potential to create enormous devastation and suffering for millions of people,” said WFP Deputy Director Gordana Jerger.
“We are extremely fortunate. However, there is still a lot of urgent work to be done in helping those who were affected and we will need immediate financial assistance from our donors who have proven repeatedly that they are prepared to help,” she said.
The airlift consisted of 4.5 metric tonnes of beans, rice, oil, fortified corn-soya blended food and cooking oil, delivered by an airplane belonging to the Nicaraguan Air Force.
The food is enough to feed almost 900 people for ten days. Road transport has been halted after a key bridge was washed away by the rain-swollen river.
“We are only able to deliver assistance to the affected areas by air, sea or river,” said WFP Country Director William Hart.
The airlift marked the second emergency distribution of WFP food in the coastal region since Hurricane Felix struck early Tuesday.
An additional 70 metric tonnes of WFP food were distributed on Tuesday in Bilwi and Waspam, just hours after Hurricane Felix struck the area.
Also on Tuesday in Honduras, WFP staff in the capital city Tegucigalpa distributed food to thousands of people who had gathered in shelters. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, WFP is still assessing Felix’s impact, especially in geographically vulnerable areas.
“Because WFP has food stocks for its long-term projects in the area, we were able to respond with unusual speed,” Jerger said.
“However, not only will these stocks have to be replenished, we will need international support for our operation in Nicaragua where people require assistance, not just in the short term, but also to rebuild their lives and homes in the coming months,” she said.