With all that is going on in the news, the heavy sustained rain falling in Costa Rica and Panama is not getting much attention. It has been pouring non-stop for a week, like it can only in the tropics, and shows no sign of letting up. Bridges and roads are out, communities have been swept away, thousands are homeless and an unknown number have died.
Many of the most affected had very little to begin with, including subsistance farmers, indigenous people and those forced by poverty to seek their place in the least desirable locations: the riverbanks, the steep slopes, and the most remote areas.
The capital city, Panama, has largely been cut off from the Interior, by landslides and the closing of one bridge over the Canal and the extreme congestion on the other bridge.
Link to Videos via Panamanian TV station www.telemetro.com
The video above is of Bocas del Toro, on the border with Costa Rica.
I'm taking the unusual step of blockquoting an entire article, because the author gives permission to do so, and because it is the only info I've found on how to make donations, if you are so inclined. I'd appreciate any additional info in the comments. I lived for two and a half years in Panama, and traveled all over the country, visiting the most remote communities. Although Panama City is a world-class banking and commercial center, many Panamanians live an extremely precarious existence, especially in the Interior. Keep them in your prayers.
How To Donate Internationally To Help Panama's Flood Victims
Friday, November 28 2008 @ 09:42 AM EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - More than 130,000 people have been affected by severe flooding recently in the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro in the Republic of Panama. Over the past week an unusually strong storm system unleashed torrential turning normally calm streams and rivers into powerful torrents carrying huge boulders, rocks and mud downstream. At last count least eight people have been killed and another six are missing. Thousands of people have lost everything, the river sweeping their meager belongings and destroying their modest houses. Thousands more have been affected by widespread flooding, the water reaching as high as the roof and causing extensive water damage. While the Panamanian people are responding to this disaster to the best of their ability, and with the help of neighboring countries such as Colombia and the help of traditional friends such as the United States, more humanitarian assistance is required. Panama's Red Cross has established an account with the National Bank of Panama capable of accepting international wire transfers - now you can make a donation directly to the Panamanian Red Cross from anywhere in the world. (more)
Account Information: The Panamanian Red Cross established this account with Panama's National Bank for the expressed purpose of providing disaster relief to the flood victims in the devastated areas. The money you send will first go through an account in New York where it will then be transferred to the account in Panama. Use the following information to make a donation. You will notice some of the account information is in Spanish with regards to the account holder and the name of the bank. In order to ensure the transfer is routed correctly you should probably put the information down in both Spanish and English. In reality, the most important pieces of information are the routing number and the account number:
Bank Name: JP Morgan Chase Bank, One Chase Manhattan Plaza, New York, New York 10005
ABA Number: 021000021
Swift Number: CHASUS33
For Benefit Of (FBO)
Account Holder: Cruz Roja Panameña - Inundación (Panamanian Red Cross - Flood)
Name of Bank: Banco Nacional de Panamá (National Bank of Panama)
Account Number: 02080622-2
Swift Code: NAPAPAPA (Note: This is the Swift Code for the Banco Nacional in Panama)
Confirmation of Authenticity: Unfortunately during times of crisis there are always unscrupulous people who would take advantage of the situation for their own personal gain. Anytime anyone is asking for a charitable donation people are often willing to make a donation, but they want to be sure the information is correct and that the donations are actually going to reach the flood victims. If you would like further confirmation of the information presented in this article, consider the following:
Confirmed With The Red Cross: I called and spoke to the Chief of Communications for the Panamanian Red Cross, Sandra Luz Flores, to confirm these instructions for making an international donation to the disaster relief efforts. The Panamanian Red Cross issued a press release regarding the establishing of this special account which you can read at this link. Sandra's cell phone number in Panama is +011 (507) 6699-2162. She confirmed all of the above information with regards to the bank accounts, the process and procedures for making an international donation to the disaster flood relief efforts here in Panama. All of the information is correct and independently confirmed.
Checked With the Banco Nacional: I called and spoke to Sra. Mirna Villareal who works in the International Wire Transfer department of the Panamanian Banco Nacional. She confirmed all of the above information, including every digit in every account number and Swift code. In addition she explained that all international wire transfers coming into the Banco Nacional in Panama from anywhere in the world are first routed through the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. Her telephone number in the Banco Nacional in Panama City is +011 (507) 505-2912. In summary, the information and instructions are correct, and the funds should arrive in the Red Cross account with no problems.
Do A Google Search: Do a quick Google search on the account number (02080622-2). I just did this and got only 18 returns, every one of them a news article in Spanish from the local Panamanian press talking about how the Red Cross has established this account for flood relief.
Google Search the ABA: If you Google the ABA routing number 021000021 you will see that this is the code for the JP Morgan Chase Bank in New York.
Google Search the Swift Codes: You will see that CHASUS33 is for the JP Morgan Bank in New York and that NAPAPAPA is for the Banco Nacional in Panama. There are a whole lot of search returns for the CHASUS33 Swift Code because there are a lot of people who use this bank to receive funds and then have them routed overseas. If you check these hits carefully, you will see that all of the other information is the same, and what changes are the instructions with regards to the end recipient, in this case the Panamanian Red Cross and their account number here in Panama.
That's All I Can Think Of: If anyone has any better way of determining these wiring instructions are complete and correct and that this is the "real deal" then please let me know. As far as I can tell this information is correct, valid, and it should work just fine. If you use this information to make a donation, please let me know. In speaking to these people I got the distinct impression that the system is in place but they don't seem to have a whole lot of experience actually using it. I would like to hear about what happened and how it went just to get a little feedback. And, I know many people would like to make anonymous donations, but if you want me to just let me know how much you donated and when, and I can walk over to the Banco Nacional (which is just around the corner from my office) and I can confirm they have received your donation. I would like to do this for a couple (at least) just to make sure it's all wired together as advertised. Thank you all very much for taking the time and making the effort.
Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.