Peace Corps Temporarily Evacuates Volunteers from Belize; Hurricane Mitch Expected to Hit Central America Later This Week

Washington, D.C., October 27, 1998—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan announced today that the agency has taken precautionary measures and temporarily evacuated Peace Corps volunteers from Belize due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Mitch. Volunteers and staff were safely evacuated to Miami this afternoon before Hurricane Mitch hits the Caribbean coast of Central America. The hurricane has been rated as a Category 5 storm, the highest, most dangerous rating for a storm.
"The health and safety of our volunteers is our top priority," Gearan said. "Therefore, we have decided to move coastal Peace Corps volunteers in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua to the capitals of their respective countries."
All 47 Peace Corps volunteers and the co-country directors in Belize traveled from Belize City to Miami, where they will wait out the storm, after which Peace Corps staff will determine when volunteers can return to their sites in Belize.
All Peace Corps volunteers serving in Central America have been placed on alert, following heavy rain and strong winds in some areas.
Volunteers in Belize have been working in community development, education, environmental education, health, and business advising.
Currently, about 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 80 countries to bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, help start new businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

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