Emergency Assistance Underway to Support Communities Impacted by Catastrophic Storms ETA and IOTA
SILVER SPRING, MD (November 18, 2020) – The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has scaled up disaster operations in Central America to help families impacted by Hurricanes Eta and Iota.
Within less than two weeks, the two Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the same northern coastline of Nicaragua, turning into destructive tropical storms and affecting more than 3.6 million people in Central America. The catastrophic storms delivered dangerous winds, heavy rains, life-threatening flooding and landslides wiping out entire communities, leaving thousands of families homeless and killing more than 200 people.
“We must keep the people of Central America in our prayers as ADRA continues its relief operations in the region. The impact of Eta and Iota is considered greater than the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. There are whole communities where families have not been able to get out of their houses due to floods and mudslides, and many people remain missing,” says Luis Trundle, ADRA Honduras country director. “The distribution of humanitarian aid is very challenging. People are sitting on the side of the road desperate for food, water, basic supplies and shelter.”
Despite blocked roads and cut off communities, ADRA’s rapid response teams are on the ground assessing the current crisis and coordinating humanitarian efforts with municipalities, Adventist church leaders, and local partners. Disaster operations are responding to diverse needs in affected countries.
In Honduras, ADRA mobilized more than 1,500 hygiene kits with food, clothing and washing supplies with the help of church volunteers and in-kind donations to assist nearly 2,000 families. It’s also providing food rations to needy farming communities already facing dire economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Government reports estimate the storms destroyed over 153,000 hectares of basic grains, banana, sugar cane, beans and other crops, worsening food insecurity in the region.
In El Salvador, Adventist young people from the country’s Pathfinder club helped ADRA distribute hundreds of meals, blankets clothes, and water to children and adults in shelters. More than 40 pallets of food and water were also provided to police and rescue teams.
In Guatemala, ADRA is working with church volunteers to help people in the hardest hit neighborhoods. In Panama, ADRA and church donations supplied several truckloads of food, clothes and personal hygiene to displaced families.
Nicaragua, Belize and Costa Rica
In Nicaragua, Belize and Costa Rica, ADRA will supply emergency food to survivors in dozens of impacted communities. ADRA is also responding in South America, namely the Antoquia, Bolivar and Choco departments of Colombia, preparing food and hygiene items, and in the southern region of Mexico, ADRA has been supplying cash vouchers to the most vulnerable people.
ADRA’s emergency operations are also preventing the spread of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of infection in disaster areas. It has already mobilized more than 7,000 hygiene emergency kits with surgical masks, antibacterial gel, and cleaning and hand washing supplies for over 60 shelters. In addition, ADRA is disseminating coronavirus prevention messages in the region. Authorities fear COVID-19 cases will likely rise due to the challenges of keeping social distancing and lack of sanitizing supplies in overcrowded shelters. This year more than 227,000 people have contracted coronavirus in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize, and nearly 7,000 have died (*numbers subject to change daily).