Hurricane Mitch - Aftermath

Aftermath

See also: List of retired Atlantic hurricane names

Because of the hurricane's destruction in Central America and elsewhere in North America, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Mitch in the spring of 1999; it will never again be used for an Atlantic hurricane. The name was replaced with Matthew in the 2004 season.

After the disaster caused by Hurricane Mitch, countries around the world donated significant aid, totaling $6.3 billion (1998 USD, $8.6 billion 2011 USD). Throughout Central America, which was recovering from an economic crisis that occurred in 1996, many wished to continue the growth of the infrastructure and economy. In addition, after witnessing the vulnerability to hurricanes, the affected governments endeavored to prevent such a disaster from occurring again.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes, but many took this as an opportunity to rebuild stronger houses. With a new, structurally improved foundation, homes were redesigned to be able to withstand another hurricane. However, lack of arable crop land took away the jobs from many, decreasing an already low income even lower.

Following the passage of Mitch, disease outbreaks occurred throughout Central America, including cholera, leptospirosis, and dengue fever. Over 2,328 cases of cholera were reported, killing 34 people. Guatemala was most affected by the bacterium, where most of the deaths occurred from contaminated food. 450 cases of leptospirosis were reported in Nicaragua, killing seven people. There were over 1,357 cases of dengue reported, though no deaths were reported from the disease.

While stalling over the western Caribbean Sea, Mitch's strong winds produced strong waves, damaging local coral reefs. Later, the storm's immense rainfall led to runoff polluted with debris and fresh water. This resulted in diseases occurring within the coral. However, the hurricane's upwelling cooled the warm water temperatures, preventing significant bleaching and destruction of the coral reef.

Honduras, the country most affected by the hurricane, received significant aid for the millions impacted by the hurricane. Mexico quickly gave help, sending 700 tons of food, 11 tons of medicine, four rescue planes, rescue personnel, and trained search dogs. Cuba also volunteered, sending a contingent of physicians to the country. The U.S. administration offered at first troops stationed in Honduras, and then withdrew them a few days after the storm. They also at first offered only $2 million (1998 USD, $2.7 million 2011 USD) in aid, which came as a shock to residents, and president Carlos Roberto Flores alike. The U.S. later increased their offer to $70 million (1998 USD, $95 million 2011 USD). The Honduran government distributed food, water, and medical services to the hurricane victims, including the more than 4 million without water. President Flores turned the administration of the relief efforts to the church, both Protestant and Catholic. The relief effort was carried out with virtually no incidents; only one truck was discovered to be re-routed for personal use, and the person responsible for this was subsequently punished. In addition, the country initially experienced a sharp increase in the unemployment rate, largely due to the destruction of crop lands. However, rebuilding provided jobs in the following years. In Costa Rica, reconstruction after the hurricane increased the number of jobs by 5.9%, lowering the unemployment rate slightly.

Read more about this topic:  Hurricane Mitch

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