CHURCHES in Honduras are being used as emergency shelters for thousands of people whose homes have been destroyed by the two hurricanes that caused catastrophic damage to the country last month.
Hurricane Iota made landfall only 13 days after Hurricane Eta had swept across Central American countries, affecting more than 4.5 million people (News, 13 November, 20 November).
The double hurricane came on top of the human and economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, which had already plunged Honduras — a country beset by poverty and violence — into recession, and left many unemployed.
Hurricane Iota was the strongest Atlantic storm of the year, reaching category 5, and Eta was category-4. Iota swept across some of the same areas, besides devastating others that had escaped Eta. Torrential rain also caused landslides, including one in neighbouring Guatemala which killed about 100 people.
At least 100 people are believed to have died from the hurricanes in Honduras, and tens of thousands have been left homeless. The US Episcopal Church’s emergency relief arm, Episcopal Relief and Development, is supplying emergency aid, including bedding and clothing.
Two-thirds of Hondurans were already living in poverty, according to the World Bank. The Bishop of Honduras, the Rt Revd Lloyd Allen, said: “This is the story of a poor country that suddenly got poorer.”
The hurricanes “wreaked devastation on a vast scale, leaving death, destruction and missing people everywhere, and over 3.5 million temporarily dependent on emergency aid”, he said.
There are fears that Covid-19 will now spread rapidly as those left homeless move into temporary shelters where socially distancing is impossible.