In order to ensure that Honduras is prepared, and measure the ability to provide a coordinated response to an emergency, the Permanent Contingency Commission (Copeco – Comisión Permanente de Contingencias) and various agencies of the National System of Risk Management (SINAGER – Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgo) conducted an exercise simulating the impact of a category one hurricane on the country.
The hurricane season preparation exercise started in the early morning hours, with staff instructions given regarding the covering of shifts for the alleged emergency. At first, a bulletin was issued, a Green Alert for six departments, alerting of the presence in the Caribbean Sea of the alleged tropical depression 15 E.
The staff then interacted with the National Emergency Operations Center (COEN – Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia Nacional) of Tegucigalpa, as Copeco regional offices nationwide tracked the phenomenon that became the “Tropical Storm Sonia”. Tropical Storm Sonia affected the departments under Green Alert, and hours later, the alleged phenomenon reached hurricane status, located near 16.26 degrees North latitude and 84.30 degrees West longitude on the Honduran territory, with movement to the West at 35 km/h.
The alleged “Hurricane Sonia”, category one on the Saffir-Simpson scale, reached maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour on Honduran soil. During the exercise, Hurricane Sonia reported to have killed at least eight people, with 70 missing, but before this situation, Copeco had declared a Red Alert nationwide.
Only in the northern part of the country, in regional office number two based in San Pedro Sula, was humanitarian aid provided to one thousand three hundred families affected by the rains. The COEN of Tegucigalpa reported that nationally there were a total of 25 injured, 25 evacuated, 350 sheltered, and 4,690 deaths. 875 people were not in communication, and a total of 665 people were affected. Also reported were a total of 79 homes destroyed and 193 houses damaged.
This type of exercise was successful in measuring the coordination capacity between the Copeco and SINAGER agencies. The practice event provided insight into areas in which to improve, and solidified the steps and procedures to implement in case of a weather related emergency in the country.