Iota slams catastrophic winds and intense rains against Central America

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Highlights

  • 4,339,887 people are affected by hurricane, now a tropical storm
  • 423,147 were evacuated and more than 73,000 are in shelters. World Vision advises caution to avoid overcrowding that could lead to risk of infections of COVID-19
  • 131 people dead due to Iota
Hurricane Iota survivors trudge through waist-high water in the street

SEATTLE (Nov. 17, 2020) Hurricane Iota swept violently through Caribbean communities in Honduras and Nicaragua flooding small communities and urban settings in both countries. A total of 4,339,887 million people are affected throughout Central America, while 423,147 were evacuated, according to the latest update from OCHA.

Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision, is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to almost 125,000 families. However, the available data of the damage caused by Iota is just preliminary. There are dozens of communities isolated due to the destruction of roads, the collapse of bridges and the high level of flooded water.

“Iota severely damaged productive infrastructure, health facilities, schools, and impacted tourism, a key source of income for many. We do not have yet reports on the impact on the indigenous populations in the Caribbean coast of Central America,” explained José Nelson Chavez, regional advisor on emergencies for World Vision in Latin America.

Chavez explained that out of the 4.3 million affected people in Central America, 3,011,760 are in Honduras, 1,198,117 in Guatemala and 130,000 in El Salvador, according to information from OCHA.

“All program areas of World Vision in Honduras, where we care for the wellbeing of vulnerable children and their families are affected by this devastating hurricane,” said Karen Ramos, public engagement director in Honduras.

“We are especially concerned by the situation of 73,158 people, including thousands of children, who are protected in temporary shelters. The massive evacuation of thousands, the limited availability of clean water and potential overcrowding threatens thousands of families of becoming infected with COVID-19 and is already causing abuse against children. The burden on thousands of families caused by the loss of their homes, crops and animals is heavier when considering the increased risk of becoming ill,” said Chavez.

“At this time, more than 50,000 families are in shelters in Bilwy (in the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua) many of them in overcrowded facilities,” said Vittoria Peñalba, sustainability director at World Vision Nicaragua. “We fear that this might increase the infections of COVID-19. Keep in mind that these families recently experienced the effects of hurricane Eta. They are in shock, very vulnerable and in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The Caribbean coast is without power, communications are very difficult. At this point, response teams are fatigued, as they are coping with the effects caused by Eta, less than two weeks ago, and now trying to alleviate the damage caused by Iota, which is still unaccounted for. The rain and wind are still very strong in many communities.”

World Vision is contributing to provide clean water, hygiene kits, food, blankets and other essentials, but mainly ensuring psychosocial support to children and their caregivers, amid this emergency.

Guatemala and El Salvador are starting to experience the initial impacts of Iota, which will cross from East to West vast areas of Central America. “It is starting to rain”, said Veronica Franco, a volunteer of WV in San Miguel, El Salvador.

“We are ready to provide humanitarian help to families affected by Iota, but we are mobilizing to increase financial and in-kind support. We are concerned by floods and potential landslides that could affect again the homes of thousands of people. We are praying and asking for God’s protection for the most vulnerable before Iota hits,” said Yvan Castro, Deputy Director of World Vision Guatemala.

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.