Peace Corps Volunteers Safe in Central America; Nearly All Volunteers Have Been Contacted
November 3, 1998Washington, D.C., November 3, 1998—Nearly all of the more than 600 Peace Corps volunteers serving in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize are safe and accounted for in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan said today.
"Before the storm hit, we were in touch with every volunteer in the region and each country implemented its emergency action plan," Gearan said. "The safety and health of our volunteers is our highest priority. Over the last several days, we have made every effort to contact all volunteers in the region, and we will continue to do so until we reach every single volunteer."
In Honduras, most of the nearly 200 Peace Corps volunteers and staff have been contacted, and some volunteers have been pulled into Tegucigalpa, the capital, until further notice. All Peace Corps volunteers in El Salvador are safe, and some who were in potential flood areas of the country have been waiting out the storm in the capital city of San Salvador. All volunteers in Nicaragua have been contacted and are safe. Most of the more than 160 volunteers in Guatemala have been contacted and are safe. Communication remains difficult, but every effort is being made to reach those few who have not been contacted. Peace Corps staff members are also talking regularly with families of Peace Corps volunteers who are serving in Central America, and are working full-time to ensure emergency procedures are followed. Last Tuesday, the Peace Corps took precautionary measures and temporarily evacuated Peace Corps volunteers and staff from Belize to Miami because of the expected arrival of Hurricane Mitch. Following evaluations of the weather conditions there, the volunteers returned to Belize today. Three senior Peace Corps staff members from the agency's headquarters traveled to the region today to assess the damage and determine what the Peace Corps will do next.