International aid agency World Vision is on the ground responding to the devastation caused by hurricane Iota which swept through Nicaragua last night.
More than 2 million people are in the path of the hurricane which grew into an overwhelming Category 5 storm with wind speeds of 160mph (260km/h). “We are on the ground across Central America responding to this disaster. Rapid response teams are assessing need. We have prepositioned materials ready for distribution, including food, clean water, mattresses and blankets,” said Yvan Castro, Deputy Director of World Vision in Guatemala.
Maximum alerts were issued in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
The storm, the strongest of the 2020 hurricane season in the Caribbean basin, wreaked havoc with heavy rains, surge floods, landslides and extreme waves in coastal areas.
Over 2 million people, whose lives have already been decimated by COVID-19 and by the massive destruction to homes, infrastructure, crops and livelihoods caused by hurricane Eta ten days ago, will now struggle to survive the impact of this even stronger hurricane.
“The number of natural disasters such as hurricane Eta and Iota are increasing. This is the impact that climate change is having on the lives of the world’s most vulnerable. Once again people who are least responsible for climate change are suffering the most.” said Jose Nelson Chavez, Regional Emergency Advisor for World Vision in Latin America and the Caribbean.
With evacuations taking place in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic, World Vision is providing guidance to limit the spread of the virus while working to get aid safely out to those in distress.
The NGO is also providing psychosocial assistance to families who are coping with the loss of their homes and their livelihoods due to hurricanes Eta and Iota.
“Central American countries are still in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency. The impact of Eta and now Iota bring further risk of COVID-19 spreading as families are forced to leave their homes. One of our main focuses will be to ensure that, even amid the chaos caused by these natural disasters, the people impacted are still protected against COVID-19. World Vision is preparing to assist 124,229 families with humanitarian aid, which includes COVID-19 protection kits for children and their families,” said Jose Nelson Chavez, Regional Advisor in Emergencies for World Vision in Latin America.
World Vision is concerned that Honduras is facing an unprecedented devastation, especially in the North of the country, as heavy rains pour onto already saturated land.
“We are readjusting our humanitarian aid and asking God for a miracle. Our population will not endure, physically, nor emotionally, more destruction,” said Jorge Galeano, National Director of World Vision Honduras.
“World Vision is calling governments, donors, businesses and international aid agencies to provide financial aid to respond to this emergency. Children are at risk of hunger while families face food insecurity, massive unemployment and the loss of livelihoods. We must prioritise their needs as we respond to the destruction caused by these devastating hurricanes,” said Mr Galeano.