Sunday, December 06, 2009

Totaling the costs

It is beginning to be possible to total the cost of last month's flooding and landslides in El Salvador. Beyond the 199 lives lost (with 77 people still missing) and some 1900 houses destroyed or greatly damaged, there are economic costs from the destruction of bean and grain crops as well as damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure. From the Latin American Herald Tribune:

SAN SALVADOR – Full recovery from the early-November floods and mudslides that devastated much of El Salvador and left 199 people dead will require spending at least $343 million, an official with the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said on Friday.

That figure includes the cost of efforts to reduce the risk from future weather disasters, ECLAC regional councilor Ricardo Zapata told a press conference in San Salvador.

Reporting on the preliminary findings of an international commission named to survey the damage from last month’s storms, he said the floods and mudslides caused $239 million in losses.

While $135 million of that total was damage to homes and infrastructure, the remainder took the form of lost revenues due to the disruption of economic activities, Zapata said.

The economic impact of future natural emergencies “can be reduced through planning for disasters and investments in prevention,” the ECLAC official said.

Natural disasters, he told Efe, “don’t affect the entire population in the same way, they affect in a much more intense way the population that has fewer resources and less capacity for response.”

Zapata also cited El Salvador’s long history of suffering major economic losses from climate events, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

He urged the country to “invest appropriately” in reducing the physical and social vulnerability of the population.

For a more detailed report of the situation in the country, see the United Nations status report from November 26 at this link.

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