Central America: USAID Sends Aid to Countries Devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota

Central America: USAID Sends Aid to Countries Devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota

By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo
November 20, 2020

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to the destruction caused by two consecutive hurricanes in Central America.

Hurricane Iota made landfall in Nicaragua on November 17 with winds of 250 km/h, less than two weeks after Tropical Storm Eta left at least 200 people dead and missing in the region, in addition to displacing thousands.

“The United States, through USAID, was already providing assistance after Hurricane Eta made landfall, and is now allocating an additional $17 million in vital aid for people affected by both hurricanes in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua,” USAID said in a statement.

The Guatemalan Army’s 6th Infantry Brigade supported the evacuation of families affected by the constant rains caused by Hurricane Iota. (Photo: Guatemalan Army)

This new funding includes up to $8.5 million for Honduras, $7 million for Guatemala, and $1.5 million for Nicaragua to provide shelter, food, hygiene supplies, relief items, and protection for the most vulnerable people, USAID said.

In Honduras, the Armed Forces’ Peacekeeping Operations Unit (UOMP, in Spanish) distributed more than 25,000 gallons of water to citizens affected by the hurricanes.

“The UOMP has also led preventive evacuations, street cleaning, and damage assessment,” the Honduran Armed Forces reported.

For its part, the Guatemalan Army intensified assistance in devastated and at-risk areas.

“We have approximately 7,000 men and women members of the Army involved in response tasks that include searching for people, evacuation, and logistics to move humanitarian aid to the affected communities,” Rubén Téllez, spokesman for the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, told Agencia Guatemalteca de Noticias.

The United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned of the catastrophic consequences of Hurricane Iota, this year’s 13th tropical storm in Central America.

“We are running out of superlatives for this Atlantic hurricane season. It’s a record in every sense of the word,” WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis said in a statement.

According to Nullis, the number and strength of hurricanes in 2020 are due to several causes, such as the absence of an El Niño event, ocean temperature, and atmospheric patterns — all factors that occur in an era of climate change.

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