Central America: Between tropical storms and corona pandemic

There have never been so many tropical storms as this year. Central America is particularly hard hit. The region has already reached its limits due to the corona pandemic.

By Anne Herrberg, ARD Studio Buenos Aires

The water is still just below the roofs of the houses, and isolated electricity pylons protrude from the mud-brown floods – the municipality of Pimienta looks like a ghost town on the TV pictures. Here, in the northwest of Honduras, the hurricane “Eta” raged brutally, massive rains caused the rivers to overflow their banks, tore down bridges, roads, entire villages, destroyed fields and plantations, hundreds of thousands lost everything within hours.

“At first I thought there was still hope because people said the roof of your house can still be seen there, but the next morning they said your house no longer exists. That tore my heart apart. What should I do now Do? I’m on the street, “this young man from the Playón settlement told CNN.

Millions are homeless and more than 200 people have died

Thousands have been camping under plastic sheeting on the side of the road for days. The tropical storm “Eta”, which first hit the coast of Nicaragua on November 3rd, left a trail of devastation throughout Central America: Millions are homeless, more than 200 people have died, many are still missing.

In Guatemala, landslides buried entire villages and in Honduras almost two million, or a fifth of the entire population, are affected by the storm damage, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández confirmed to the TV broadcaster Telemundo. “The clean-up is in progress, but many roads and auxiliary routes that we have set up have been destroyed. One of our four international airports is completely under water.”

The next storm is already looming

Meanwhile, the next tropical storm “Iota” is brewing over the Caribbean, reports the US hurricane center. And that even though the season is actually over. Honduras declared the highest level of alert, Guatemala and Nicaragua also ordered evacuations.

Jorge Galeano, regional director of the World Vision relief organization, says: “To know that the next hurricane is already around the corner fills us with great concern. If it gets here with its current strength, it would be devastating, because here there is still major floods, still not all victims could be rescued, many are defenseless and would be doubly affected. “

“You reach your limits here”

The storms hit a largely poor region that has already been weakened by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic effects. Miguel Gracía from Aktion Hungerhilfe also fears a new surge of infections. “You reach your limits here: the emergency shelters are overcrowded. There is a lack of fresh water, hygiene, and protective masks. Everything comes together so that the number of infections increases again.”

In this year’s hurricane season in the Atlantic, which lasts from June to November, more strong storms have formed this year than in 15 years. According to World Vision, one and a half million people are in dire need of humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei called for the industrialized countries, as the main culprits for climate change, to pay for the damage caused. Together with the Honduran head of state, he announced that he would apply for aid from the World Bank, among others.


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