U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) continues to support the Honduran communities that are still suffering the effects of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which struck the country in November 2020. In early April, this aid shifted to reconstruction efforts.
“Speaking directly to the experience of the JTF-Bravo Civil Affairs team assigned in northern Honduras, the focus was initially on ensuring Hondurans had needed food, water, and medical care in coordinated efforts with the local government, USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development], and nongovernmental organizations,” U.S. Army Captain Nathaniel Mullen, JTF-Bravo Civil Affairs officer, told Diálogo.
“Clean-up operations and ensuring that residents had shelter were also a priority. But as progress is made and normalcy returns, more focus is being put into providing assistance into reconstruction efforts,” the officer added.
According to Cap. Mullen, SOUTHCOM, through its Humanitarian Assistance Program, has contributed some $150,000 to the Cortés department to support infrastructure projects. In El Progreso, Yoro department, the force’s Civil Affairs teams began the construction of 600 houses for affected families.
Reopening critical locations, such as hospitals and schools, were among JTF-Bravo’s priorities. For example, in early April, force engineers completed repairs to a school in Santa Barbara, which included materials for a damaged roof, new toilets, a large water tank, and a new plumbing system.
In March, in La Lima municipality, Cortés department, the JTF-Bravo teams began reconstruction work on the Manuel Bonilla School. The project, which includes a kitchen, a dining room, a cafeteria, four classrooms, school furniture, and air conditioning, will end in June and is worth $11,000.
“Our eyes were filled with tears when we saw the great destruction, and now, with the effort and help of a friendly hand that SOUTHCOM has given to us, we are rebuilding. Limeños are resilient people,” La Lima’s mayor, José Santiago Motiño, told Diálogo.
Our eyes were filled with tears when we saw the great destruction, and now, with the effort and help of a friendly hand that SOUTHCOM has given to us, we are rebuilding. Limeños are resilient people,” La Lima’s mayor, José Santiago Motiño.
Motiño said that another donation of $40,000 was for reconstructing the new Limeños de Corazón Hospital, which was inaugurated in August 2020, and for delivering personal protective equipment for patients and health personnel.
In light of the devastation the two hurricanes have caused, SOUTHCOM responded with a support force, delivering more than 544,000 kilograms of humanitarian aid, carrying out more than 850 rescues, and contributing $6.6 million to devastated communities in Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and Colombia.
The response of Honduran communities, Capt. Mullen said, “has been incredible. Many were happy to see the [JTF-Bravo] Civil Affairs team out working in their department, and they even went out of their way to thank us. This was inspiring to see and definitely pushed the team to do as much as possible during their rotation in Honduras.”