World Vision deploys disaster relief to Central America after 2 hurricanes hammer region

People walk around buildings flooded by the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Iota in Jinotega, north of Nicaragua, November 2020.
People walk around buildings flooded by the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Iota in Jinotega, north of Nicaragua, November 2020. | World Vision/Humberto Castillo

A Christian humanitarian organization is working to provide Central America with disaster relief as the region had its second direct hit from a major hurricane in the past two weeks.

World Vision has begun working to provide food and emergency aid to those affected by Hurricane Eta, which made landfall on Nov. 3 in Nicaragua as a category 4 storm. The storm brought heavy rains and mudslides to nearby Honduras. Hurricane Iota made landfall as a category 4 storm in Nicaragua Monday evening.

“There are a lot of people sleeping by the edge of the streets and most of them don’t even have a pad,” said Rafael Zaldivar, a World Vision staff member working out of the Central American country. “They are sleeping in nylon bags, which they use as a roof as well. The only clothes they have are the ones that they were wearing at the moment they had to leave.”

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Fifty Honduran families housed at shelters in the capital city of Tegucigalpa have already received emergency kits assembled by World Vision. The charity is offering food, basic supplies and logistical assistance and plans to distribute food to almost 11,000 people across five communities.

According to Joao Diniz, Latin America and the Caribbean regional leader for World Vision, “the initial estimate suggests 2,235,000 people may be impacted by the severe flooding. The flooding and winds have damaged roads, bridges, and communications infrastructure, isolating many communities.”

In Guatemala, heavy rain triggered landslides that buried homes in the Alta Verapaz region. According to the Associated Press, Hurricane Eta has caused at least 50 deaths in the country.

In Nicaragua, World Vision has distributed emergency aid to eight communities, with an additional 1,000 families expected to receive hygiene kits, food, blankets and mosquito nets.

Hurricane Iota made landfall around 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall two weeks earlier, according to the National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the NHC, described Iota as a “catastrophic situation unfolding for northern Honduras with an extreme storm surge of 15- to 20-foot forecast along with destructive winds and potentially 30 inches of rainfall.”

Jorge Galeano, national director of World Vision in Honduras and Guatemala, warned that the impact from Hurricane Iota will “worsen already extreme survival conditions.”

“The soil is already saturated, a mild increase in precipitations could be lethal and cause more flooding and landslides,” added Jose Nelson Chavez, World Vision’s regional adviser on emergencies. “World Vision is supporting temporary shelters and vulnerable communities in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.”

The humanitarian group has regional supplies in Panama, a central American country rarely hit by hurricanes. Supplies housed in Panama include “blankets, tarps, mosquito nets, water purification tablets, and Hygiene kits.”

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