Update of the situation in Honduras following Hurricanes Eta and Iota, Nov., 2020
Back to back, hurricanes rated as either level 4 or 5 when they hit landfall along the eastern coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua brought with them torrential rains that amounted to between 20 to 30 inches each. Regions along the northern coast and in the Sula Valley had not recovered from the first storm before being struck by the second. We have received reports of hurricane damage from many places out in the mountains, in rural areas as well. Honduras had already been greatly affected by the pandemic with official cases of over 100,000 and close to 3,000 deaths, unofficially these numbers are considered to be higher. The economic recession caused by the lockdown and the lack of government resources due to pandemic expenses will hinder the recovery of the country greatly in the face of the huge task of rebuilding multiple roads and bridges and for financing social infrastructure for the tens of thousands who have lost their homes. The economic impact of the storms is said to be between 20-40% of the GNP. The worst hurricane to hit Central America was Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the response to which was in the billions however this time the worldwide recession will most likely mean much less international aid coming to Honduras. After Hurricane Mitch immigration to the U.S. stared to rise significantly. Last year alone, 250,000 Hondurans were apprehended at the south-west US border. Against this broader background, we are focusing efforts in the specific areas of Trinidad, Copan and the villages of Copan Ruins where we have had an ongoing presence with housing projects.
In Trinidad, Copan Mayor Orlando Jimenez reported to us that 150 families have been directly affected in some way, although no deaths have been reported. 45 houses have been affected in 6 different regions of the municipality, some with structural damage especially of adobe houses, but others are threatened by mud slides and water saturation. Several of the access roads (17) to villages in the municipality have been affected with mudslides and wash outs.
Copan Ruins Municipality. We have received reports from several sources from Copan Ruins and some of the villages. The road from La Entrada to Copan Ruins was out in some areas rendering it impassible for the immediate period following the storms. This along with a similar occurrence from the Guatemalan side has meant that the municipality has been completely cut off with the supply chain. Food is scarce in Copan Ruins which also has been hit hard by covid-19 recently with 500 cases being reported. Villages in outlying areas like Chonco and Santa Cruz have felt the double blow of being cut off from Copan Ruins because their road was washed out as well and the loss of the bean crop which was said to be a week from harvest when the rains hit them for days. The bean crop in other communities has been affected. It was ready to be harvested when the rains came, the water caused it to start to sprout. People are very worried about food security now.
Eleuterio finally was able to walk out of the village through mud up to his knees to give us the report that the Catholic Church which was near the river was completely destroyed as well as one house in Chonco. We were able to get a small amount of funds to him for some immediate food purchases from several small stores in the area for 55 families in Chonco.
November 24, 2020 Community of Chonco
At this writing electricity had not been restored to many areas. When surveying the damage done to the church in Chonco some noticed that the parts built with crossed-blocked corners with rebar were still standing while the poured columns and walls were not. Their comment was, “See, Dona Gloria has been right all these years, the crossed-block corner construction is stronger. Now we believe it.” She had been communicating a different construction method recommended by North American experts.
The Canario housing project also felt the wrath of the storms with mudslides from the hillside above the top row of houses damaging several of those houses. The Rincon del Buey also suffered the consequences of the raging river along the river bottom where a coop of villagers cultivate crops and had recently installed an irrigation system.
Copan River, November 25, 2020
It is worth mentioning that no damage has been reported to any of the houses that have been part of our projects.
Plans are developing for responding to the immediate emergency situation in Copan Ruins with food relief purchases. Don Gustavo, the manager at Hotel Buena Vista, will help us coordinate that effort along with Eleuterio Martinez from the community of Chonco. We would like to facilitate the purchase of beans in the municipality of Trinidad for the communities of Chonco, Santa Cruz, Nueva Estanzuela and El Canario.
This initial period of emergency and pandemic relief centered on food security will be followed by going back to our normal community-centered housing program after a few weeks. Government and NGO support for food relief should be working by then. People will start picking coffee for supplemental income. We anticipate helping to start new housing projects in both Trinidad and the Copan Ruins area during the coming months.
Mayor Mauricio Arias is proposing a new municipal housing project in which the municipality would buy a tract of land to relocate families from danger areas. We are communicating with him about our next proposed project for 20 houses in the communities of Sinai and Quico Cueva. Mayor Orlando Jimenez may include some of the storm victims in a new housing proposal.
Donations for either food relief or housing can be channeled through your normal church channels or through Palmetto International Missions (PIM). https://www.palmettointernationalmissions.org/
Also checks can be sent to:
Palmetto International Missions
Attn: Jeff Taylor
622 Pelzer Drive
Mount Pleasant. SC 29464
“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear; and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.“ Isaiah 55: 11-14
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