Storm Iota threatens millions of Central Americans already devastated by Hurricane Eta

  • 1.5 million people need urgent humanitarian aid following hurricane Eta.
  • Race against time to prepare vulnerable communities against the threat of another tropical storm: Iota.
  • More than 91,000 people displaced in temporary shelters, hundreds missing, and massive loss of homes, crops and infrastructure.

Hurricane Eta has compounded the difficult conditions faced by millions of families in Central America amid the COVID-19 related economic devastation, hunger and unemployment.

And now the region is threatened by another storm – Iota.

A week into the aftermath of ETA, 3.4 million people have been directly affected, 1.5 million people need urgent humanitarian aid and more than 91,000 have been relocated in temporary shelters. The effects of Eta on the region’s infrastructure, crops, families and particularly on children are devastating, according to international aid agency, World Vision.

In co-ordination with civil protection, OCHA, and other humanitarian organisations, World Vision is prioritising the protection of vulnerable children from all forms of abuse during the emergency.

The child-focused NGO also is ensuring that protocols to prevent COVID-19, such as handwashing and the use of face masks, continue in order to prevent outbreaks in impacted communities and shelters.

“World Vision is supporting temporary shelters and vulnerable communities in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica,” said Jose Nelson Chavez, Regional Advisor on Emergencies for World Vision.

“Hurricane Eta affected more than 2 million people in Honduras. In the Sula Valley, as waters recede, the corpses of dozens of people who drowned are appearing. The loss and damage to the homes of vulnerable people is extensive. In Guatemala, more than 358,000 people have been impacted and hundreds have died, buried under massive landslides in San Cristobal Verapaz. Scenes are heartrending in Nicaragua, in the coastal area and in El Salvador, where thousands of families lost their belongings,” said Jorge Galeano, National Director of World Vision in Honduras and Guatemala.

In Nicaragua, 96,000 families are homeless, 84,000 people can’t access drinking water, 379 schools were destroyed and 18,000 wells are contaminated. This situation amid a pandemic is overwhelming.

“We do not have much time. Central America will be impacted again, in the coming days, by another storm – Iota, which will worsen already extreme survival conditions,” said Galeano.

Eta left a toll of 93 deaths and 143 missing; a count still rising, according to official estimates.

As another storm threatens Central America, World Vision is preparing and coordinating with humanitarian peers, churches and volunteers.

“The soil is already saturated, a mild increase in precipitations could be lethal and cause more flooding and landslides,” said Chavez.

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