SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) Shelters for people whose homes were flooded or damaged by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras are now so crowded that thousands of victims have been sheltered under highway overpasses or bridges.
The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that some 4.2 million people were affected by Category 4 hurricanes in November in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Several hundred thousand are in shelters or informal camps throughout the region.
But nowhere have the evacuated victims gathered more densely than in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, where some neighborhoods are still under water. The evacuees say they fear that even when they are eventually allowed to return to their flooded neighborhoods, they will find everything gone.
Orlando Antonio Linares oversees a municipal shelter at a school in San Pedro Sula, where nearly 500 hurricane victims are sheltered. There are about 84 shelters across the city, holding up to 100,000 people.
There is a lack of everything, Linares said, referring to water, food and medicine. There is a shortcoming because, after these two hurricanes, the need is so great.
The situation also reflects the difficulty of sheltering victims of natural disasters amid the coronavirus pandemic. There is no room for social distancing at school, and few people wear face masks.
We are working against COVID, said Linares, noting that we give people the material (masks) but then they do not use it. We need to educate people.
At the moment, the deportees are much more concerned about securing basic things and fearing what they will find when they return to their homes.
The couple Rebeca Daz and Jose Alberto Murillo and their five children have been in the shelter for about two weeks after Eta and then Iota flooded their neighborhood.
We’ve been sleeping on the floor for two weeks, the kids are sleeping on the floor, Murillo said. We are forgotten.
Daz is more concerned about their home than about the coronavirus. I need sheets, she said. I have no way of getting a roof over our heads.
Housewife Irma Sarmiento expressed similar concerns. Her home in the Colonia Nuevo San Juan neighborhood, she said, is still under water.
I feel that the future is uncertain. We have nothing left, said Sarmiento. You work your whole life to be left with nothing.
What will we have when we return? Nothing, she said.
There are still those who are worse off. Former maquilas factory worker Jarlin Antonio Lorenzo said he could not find a place even in a shelter; instead, he and almost 500 other people are stationed at a highway overpass on the outskirts of the city.
There are no bathrooms, people go to the hills to go to the bathroom, he said. People are starving to death here … the shelters are full.
Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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