Siham Handal was killed and killed inside his home in the city of San Pedro Sula last week when Hurricane Etah ripped through Honduras and other Central American nations with powerful winds that brought torrential rains, devastating floods and devastating landslides .
After Eta’s landfall in Nicaragua last Tuesday, she had to cover her windows with towels underwater from a Category 4 hurricane and worked in Honduras and Guatemala on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Handel said in Spanish, “We felt strong rains and winds, but we did not see the kind of flood that others in the city center saw.”
After the storm, Handal lost communication with his grandmother about 20 miles southeast of El Progreso. He said that his grandmother is fine, but there are no surrounding areas in his community.
“Many areas of El Progreso were flooded, causing great damage, especially in the municipality of La Lima. It was devastating, “Handel said.” Many were on their roofs waiting to be saved. Some of them even spent days without food, waiting to be saved. “
Eta is the strongest storm to devastate the region since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, when approximately 7,000 people died in Honduras. Preliminary figures show that Eta has killed at least 58 people in Honduras. Local officials said they expect the death toll to increase as the flood waters recede and cleaning efforts will continue. It is estimated that Eta suffered $ 5 billion in damages compared to $ 2 billion from Hurricane Mitch.
“Even more painful” with Kovid-19
Roberto Contreras was 38 when Mitch devastated Honduras. He said he remembers that about 15 percent of the country’s population is close to 150,000 people.
“Etah is affecting 25 percent of the population; We are talking about one and a half million people. Kovid-19 makes it even more painful, “Contreras, now 60, told NBC News in Spanish. “Many lost their jobs, and everything that was in their homes was the product of more than 10 years of work and they lost it all.”
“It’s worse because we didn’t have an epidemic with Mitch,” he said. “How should people recover when they can’t go to work?”
La Lima resident Albania Lopez took two of her dogs and sought refuge with her aunt and uncle in San Pedro Sula last Tuesday when she heard heavy rain already sweeping the rivers around her home. Before leaving, she stored everything that was important in high places around the house to protect her from potential floodwaters. But the efforts went in vain.
She returned four days later, to find that Eta’s floodwaters had gone into the house where she had grown up and destroyed everything in sight, leaving a pile of mud and debris.
“My heart broke into a thousand pieces because it was really a total disaster. I am very sure that there is no house left in this area, ”Lopez, 26, told NBC News in Spanish. “It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”
Lopez lost her job while selling with an airline in September after being on vacation for a few months due to an epidemic. She is trying to get back on her feet with the help of family, friends and a GoFundMe that her cousin started for her.
Communities such as La Libertad in the center of Honduras are still submerged in floodwaters, causing most residents to take shelter in the shelter. The land where the house of Gabino Velczak once stood is now completely empty, almost like it never was.
“There is not even a pair of shoes here. The river took everything away, ”he told Telemundo News in Spanish.
Contreras, owner of the Honduran family’s franchise Power Chicken and a former mayor candidate, has been visiting some of the most affected communities and setting up mobile kitchens with the help of volunteers to feed them.
Contreras said it has also helped run the Kovid-19 test at some shelters faster. “In one of the shelters it was 50–50, which means that if 50 percent remain infected, they will infect everyone. We should start thinking about what we can do to move people. “
Contreras said mats, bed sheets and pillows are in great need so that people have a place to sleep “after all is lost”. But the need is even deeper.
American Hondurans send help
Hondurans are in Miami to send help. (Florida has the second largest Honduran population after Texas.)
Sandy Vega is one of them. She is using her online shop La Yasu boutique as a platform to raise money through Facebook Lives and purchase basic items such as canned food, clothing, diapers and medicines to send to Honduras.
“Organizations in Honduras are asking for therapy,” said Vega, who is using her own funds to cover the shipping costs of sending aid to Honduras. “They have small children with fever, stomach disease and rashes in their body.”
She has also partnered with other Hondurans in Texas and North Florida to help her connect with local organizations in Honduras that receive shipments and distribute aid.
Regarding some families seeking refuge under the chameleon bridge, Vega said, “There are women with newborns who don’t have any clothes for their babies.”
Hondurans, who live in Puerto Rico, who survived Hurricane Maria in 2017, who were suffering more than $ 90 billion in damage and killed at least 2,975 people, said the news coming out of their country was very bad Was looking
Maria Inés Gamez, a Honduran who lives in Utuado, Puerto Rico, said that small homes near the rivers were washed away by floods, while others were submerged by mudslides, making them more dangerous than what they had already experienced. went.
“I saw children carrying children and all the terror,” she said.
The Gamez organization is part of the Circulo Hondureno de Puerto Rico, Spanish for Puerto Rico’s Honduran Circle, which continues to collect donations for Etah’s survivors. According to the group’s president, Lilianna Casco, the charity goes to a church that works with other organizations to distribute aid.
In Honduras, other storm survivors such as Handal are desperately helping others.
He started a GoFundMe with the help of his aunt, who lives in New Jersey and with other family members. In partnership with Quetglas Foundation and Fundación OSOVI, they are able to purchase refrigerators, kitchen appliances and cleaning supplies to be able to help 100 families.
Handal said she is eyeing the tropical storm Iota is expected to hit Honduras on Tuesday, “because I can’t think of anything worse than giving people this help and then having to lose everything again.” “
“So, we’re going to continue fundraising to see if we can help more families and wait until next week to see when we can start distributing this aid,” Handel he said.
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