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Daily News - 28 September 1998

Fund raising television show collects RD$18 million
Dominican business and individuals committed RD$18 million during a telemarathon organized by Telecentro, Channel 13. The biggest contribution in pesos was RD$2 million made by Codetel, the principal telephone company. During the event, Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta and businessman Octavio Cisneros made a US$250,000 (about RD$3,750,000). The money is being deposited in an account opened by the Episcopado Dominicano (the Roman Catholic Church) in the Banco Intercontinental. The phones of the telemarathon were manned by leading Dominican businessman, including Celso Marranzini, president of the Private Business Council (CONEP); José Miguel Bonetti, the president of the Sociedad Industrial Dominicana; and Pepín Corripio, president of the Grupo Corripio. Other Dominican leading businessmen, such as Luís Augusto Ginebra of Seguros America; Enrique Armenteros, of the Banco Gerencial y Fiduciario took calls. Likewise Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez and Monsignor Agripino Núñez manned the phones receiving donations.

Nation is not devastated
Christine Herridge, director of the Dominican Committee for the Mitigation of Disasters said in an interview for Listin Diario's Sunday, 27 September issue that the country was not prepared to receive the hurricane because the people did not believe it would hit. She said, nevertheless, that the country is not devastated, as has been reported.
The Committee is an entity of the Organization of American States that is sponsored by the Agency for International Development. After a four hour flight on Thursday over the DR she feels that the situation is not that critical. She said there are many houses with their zinc on, and that given the conditions of Dominican soil, the country fared relatively well. She said many more roads and bridges could have collapsed. She explained that the downing of so many trees has caused most of the chaos.
The most affected zones are in the East and South, as well as slightly north and areas of Barahona and San Juan de la Maguana where flooding of rivers affected towns that over the years of drought had been build along where rivers formally passed. It is estimated that the overflowing of the Yaque del Sur River has affected the homes of more than 15,000 families. She estimated the death count could reach 1,000-2,000 persons. The government count so far is 201 dead persons.
Regarding the dams, she feels that prevention measures were taken and thus the damages are less than what they could have been. She said that more than a technical problem, what the nation has before it is a political one. "One cannot allow human settlements in the routes of the waters of the rivers," she said. She said that areas near the rivers cannot be allowed to be inhabited again.
She said that the Civil Defense evacuated the people to the shelters. She recommended that prior to be given the category of shelter, a crew of engineers should certify these places. During Hurricane David a church toppled killing around 400 persons. This time around an inadequate school shelter was destroyed causing the death of around 20 people.
She said that better coordination is necessary. She feels the worst mistake was the lack of information. As of Monday afternoon, the hurricane was thought to follow a northern route, which had been the usual for hurricanes crossing the DR throughout the past 20 years. When it changed course in the evening and took a route that brought it to smash into Santo Domingo, it took every one by surprise. She said the rains that followed were not as devastating, with the exception of the flooding they caused.
She explained that the country was not prepared for a hurricane because so many years had passed since David. There was much skepticism. For many years, the hurricane warnings were issued, people would prepare and the hurricanes would not come.
She feels that the director of the Defensa Civil should be a person with experience and training in preparing for disaster, evaluation of damages, and great inter institutional coordination capacity and leadership. She was not critical of the new director of Civil Defense, saying his main problem was that he had been on the job for only 15 days.

Worst tragedy of Georges
The worst tragedy brought by the hurricane occurred hours after the storm had passed. They resulted from the flooding in the area of Mesopotamia, in the southwestern province of San Juan de la Maguana. According to the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidraulicos, the government department in charge of dams, the destruction of this area could only have been avoided if this area were not inhabited. The INDHRI reports that the residents of the area, a population of 12,000, were warned 72 hours by radio and television by the Governor of the province, Juan de Dios Ogando and by government officials. The INDHRI used 52 pick ups, 40 trucks and other vehicles of volunteers and 300 employees that helped the firemen, the Civil Defense, the National Army and the Police. Most of the persons evacuated the area, those that stayed were the heads of families that stayed to guard their belongings.
The Sabaneta Dam overflows naturally, and the passage of water through the dam when it is full cannot be stopped. INDHRI said that the flooding would have been worse if the dam were not there.

Official death toll
As of the Sunday government update, some 201 persons had died in the hurricane. This toll includes 130 deaths in the South, 20 in the National District, 24 in the East and 27 in the Central Cibao.
Following the passing of the hurricane, 181,908 persons were homeless, 551 injured and 75 missing. There are no persons in shelters in six provinces - Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde, Peravia, Elias Piña and Pedernales.

Impoverished children still out of school
The Ministry of Education estimated that only a million of the two million public school children will be able to return to classes today. Schools were used as shelters and while many refugees have left the shelters, some shelters will need lots of work to be back into condition to receive the children. Several blackboards were used as beds by the refugees. The Ministry says that efforts are being made to relocate the refugees so that classes in public schools can start as soon as possible. Approximately two million students in private schools and universities went back to school on Monday. The number of persons in government shelters is rapidly declining as the government distributes construction materials for the repair of homes that is purchased locally and donated from abroad and by organizations in the DR.

Power gradually being restored
Electricity services and potable water had been restored in 70% of all National District areas as of Sunday. The service was also back up in 64% of the nation. La Romana continues to be the most affected area. Likewise, the government reported that land communication was restored with the western provinces of Barahona and San Juan de la Maguana, which will facilitate to a great degree aid to the communities affected by the flooding of the Yaque del Sur River.

US congressmen come to evaluate damages
US Congressmen Elton Calligy (California), Bill Redmond (New Mexico), Michael Billirakis (Florida) and Bob Menendez (New Jersey) arrived yesterday for a meeting with the government. The Congressmen said that it is possible to include a special aid to the DR in the new US government fiscal year budget. They visited a shelter in Santo Domingo and then met with President Leonel Fernandez.

Mexico sends help
President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico announced the shipment of roofing materials to assist victims of the hurricane. A C130 of the Mexican Air Force arrived with zinc roof covering.

Dominicans in Panama contribute
The Dominican community in Panama has sent a COPA charter loaded with medicines, potable water, blankets, clothes and other materials donated by the Dominican community in Panama.

French government offers to help
A mission of French experts arrived to evaluate damages. President Jacques Chirac sent a letter to President Fernández offering his assistance. Technicians from the Electricité de France company are also assisting the Dominican state utility to restore the Dominican electricity network.

Enron International sends help
Enron International sent an airplane with equipment to remove the tree trunks and branches that are delaying efforts of the Dominican Electricity Corporation in restoring power service throughout the DR. The CDE is using machetes to cut down branches and Enron sent several power saws. The Boeing 727 cargo jet also brought clothing, blankets, medicines, food, water purification tablets, disposable diapers, batteries, and mattresses for homeless Dominicans. Kevin Manning, executive director of the company's operations in the DR, said that the president of Enron International, Joseph Sutton, himself coordinated the efforts to help the DR. The flight arrived from Houston, Texas.

Casa de Campo losses
Losses at Casa de Campo are estimated in RD$1,000 thousand throughout the 22 square kilometers of the property. The hotel was the most affected with roofs, vegetation and windows blown away by the storm.
The Listín Diario reported that Dominican students at Altos de Chavón were sent home on Monday (many are residents of Santo Domingo), and foreigners were lodged in the refugee center that was set up at the Hotel Central Romana to ride out the hurricane. Employees were housed there also from 6 pm on the Monday prior to the storm. The storm hit La Romana with 110 mph winds and gusts with a force of up to 150 mph at dawn of Tuesday, 22 September. Of the 384 rooms of the resort, only 100 rooms were unharmed. The hotel lost its telephone and cellular communication with the world from 10 am of that Tuesday.
At present, a work force of 10,000 people is involved with the reconstructing. The management says they have plans to reopen with a golf tournament, Open Georges, that would commemorate the hurricane. The hotel has not yet announced a planned reopening date. Press reports have speculated it could be from the end of October to as late as early December.
The town of La Romana itself suffered losses estimated by the city government at RD$1,300 million, not taking into account the losses of the electricity system.
There were no deaths in Saona. The president of the provincial committee of the Civil Defense, engineer Hector Bienvenido Rosario said that the residents were alerted in time.
Eight persons are reported dead in La Romana.

Chicago Cubs get another chance at making it to playoffs
Dominican Neifi Pérez's ninth-inning home run gave the Chicago Cubs another chance at making into the Major League Playoffs. The Colorado team had incredibly bounced back from a seven-run deficit in Coors Field to beat the San Francisco Giants. Thus, the Cubs, despite a 4-3 loss will play tonight in Wrigley Field. Both teams are tied for the National League wild-card playoff berth at 89-73 and are set to play a one-game, winner-goes-to-Atlanta game tonight. Sosa gets another shot to add to his 66 home runs this season. See the Chicago Tribune story on Sunday's game at

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