MANAGUA – Plan International is closely monitoring the situation in Nicaragua after Hurricane Otto made landfall along the southern coast of the country on Thursday.
The Category 2 hurricane caused less damage than expected, but the rain that continues to fall is expected to cause severe flooding and dangerous mudslides.
Nicaragua is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters. As the hurricane hit, a powerful earthquake also shook the country, triggering a tsunami warning. The epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake was about 75 miles off the coast of El Salvador.
Although the tsunami alert was later lifted, Hurricane Otto has now moved south, where its center has passed over parts of northwestern Costa Rica – a country that has not been directly hit by a hurricane since records began in 1851.
Matthew Carlson, Country Director for Plan International in Nicaragua, said: “Hurricane Otto is the southernmost hurricane on record to hit Central America. However, its impact on communities was minimized by its landfall location, as it passed across the sparsely populated area encompassed by the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve and the Punta Gorda Natural Reserve.
“Maximum sustained winds reached 85mph and it brought a large amount of rain that is expected to continue to fall over the next few days. As it has been a wet rainy season, the land is already saturated and the rivers are full, which means there is likely to be widespread flooding over the coming days along with dangerous mudslides.
“Our most immediate concern is for the safety of children in the affected areas. Children, and particularly girls, are the most vulnerable during disasters and emergencies, so we will be working hard to ensure that they get the help they need. We will be assessing needs over the next couple days and are ready to respond where needed.”
Over 10,000 people were evacuated from coastal regions by the government, and Plan International is in close contact with local partners and the communities in which it works, ready to respond.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Spokespersons from Plan International are available for comment.
About Plan International Nicaragua
Plan International has been working in Nicaragua since 1994 where it focuses its programmes on education and empowering girls and boys to gain an understanding of their sexual and reproductive rights.
About Plan International USA
Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty. Everything Plan does – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time. For more information, please visit http://www.PlanUSA.org.