2020 has been a dangerous and destructive Hurricane season and poor Central America has been especially hit hard. On November 5th, Hurricane Eta hit Honduras and less than 2 weeks later Hurricane Iota crossed almost the same path arriving over Honduras on November 17th. The eye of both storms hit first in Nicaragua only 15 miles apart and Iota is now considered the strongest storm to hit Nicaragua ever. While destruction is particularly bad on the coasts, there is also massive flooding throughout the region.
Since our family is in Honduras, many of you have been asking how they are doing. We very much appreciate the concern and care and this blog post is our attempt to provide a family update while also sharing some of the things we have been seeing and learning from across the country. Since the situation is still evolving, we plan to update this page as we have more information.
Here is our status update as of November 30, 2020
Everyone is Safe. First of all, we want to reassure you that all of our family members are alive and well and for that we are very grateful!
There has been flooding in the Comayagua region where most of our family lives damaging the water system. Some bridges on the roads to the coffee farms are washed out, and there have been some mudslides on our family's coffee farms. Guillermo's brother Sabel reports that he lost about 1 acre of coffee but otherwise there wasn't wide spread damage to their coffee plantations. Shortly after the first Hurricane Eta, Guillermo's brother Avilio and his wife Bertilia walked around their farm and sent us a couple of short videos of some of the mudslides in their area that you can see here and here. In Rio Negro, the recently installed rural electrical system was washed out after Eta, was quickly repaired, and then was washed out again after Iota. The mountain water system was also damaged because the overflowing rivers washed away the pipes that normally bring water to the community. In addition, the road to the farm was impassable for several weeks. Now that the storm has passed, things are beginning to be repaired.
Fire in Rio Negro. All of our many family members' houses throughout the country are all just fine with one major exception. During the evening of November 16 as Hurricane Iota was dumping rain over the region and in the midst of strong winds, a fire started in the home of Avilio and Bertilia. Thankfully their dog woke them up and they were able to get out a window safely. Neighbors arrived almost immediately to help put out the fire, but sadly most of their living space - kitchen, dining and living room - has been destroyed. Bertilia's sister lives close so they had an immediate place to stay and the old farm house where Guillermo's parents used to live is also close and so now they have moved in there while they work to rebuild. We are incredibly grateful no one was hurt and yet this is a difficult loss to the family coming as it does just as the coffee harvest season gets underway.
Our extended family has come together to support them during this tragedy. We have pledged our own support and have created a GoFundMe Account to match our family's donations. So many people have received warm hospitality at Avilio and Bertilia's table over the years and we are sure there are many who would like to help them in their recovery. Here too are a few photos and a short video of the damage. Rio Negro Fire
Updates from beyond the family.
Beyond our family, the region is experiencing incredible destruction. Here are a few articles with photos and videos that we have found of interest.
- In pictures: Hurricanes leave Hondurans homeless and destitute (BBC News)
- Record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season ends (NBC News)
- 'This was worse than Eta': Hurricane Iota brings repeat destruction to Honduras (The Guardian)
- In storm-hit Honduras, a climate crisis drives needs and fuels migration (The New Humanitarian)
- Deaths, destruction reported in aftermath of Hurricane Iota (Yale Climate Connections)
- Río Humuya inunda barrios y colonias en Comayagua (Criterio.hn) - news and images from Comayagua where most of our family lives.
- Los ríos Ulúa y Chamelecón sumergen de nuevo a Cortés (La Tribuna) - video from Cortez, La Lima and San Pedro Sula, including images of the San Pedro Airport, where we usually land, underwater
- Obstruida la carretera CA-5 a la altura de Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Cortés (La Tribuna) - video of the road near Lago de Yojoa that we usually pass on our way from San Pedro Sula to Comayagua
- Updates from the New York Times: Nov 17, 2020, Nov 15, 2020
- Latest AP News about Honduras
Ideas for places to make donations:
- How you can help those providing aid in Central America following Iota and Eta (AccuWeather) an initial list of organizations providing support in Central America.
- Doctors Without Borders: steps up Honduran response
- World Vision: Central American Hurricane Emergency Response
- World Food Program: Central American Response
- United Methodists in Honduras Face Tragedy with Solidarity
- Catholic Relief Services: Hurricanes Eta and Iota Batter Central America
- Sustainable Harvest International addresses environmental devastation and rural poverty in Honduras, Belize and Panama.
- Our Family's GoFundMe Page for the Rio Negro House Fire
We'll continue to add to this status update and list of articles and resources as we can. If you discover any helpful articles or updates from the region please pass them along to us so we can share them as well.