Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Just 13 days after Category 4 Hurricane Eta battered Central America, causing landslides and flooding that forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, Hurricane Iota arrived. With maximum wind speeds of 155 miles per hour, Iota was a devastating blow to areas that were already suffering from the consequences of the first storm.
Iota made landfall in Nicaragua only 15 miles from where Eta struck, and where humanitarian efforts were already underway and struggling. The storms have left millions in need of urgent help.
According to Tim Grimble, Supply Chain Lead on Palladium’s Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT), the sudden onset of the second storm complicated the logistics of delivering relief supplies to the area. “The arrival of a second tropical storm brought further rain and flooding to the region and affected the ability of the Red Cross National Society (Cruz Roja Hondureña) to receive supplies directly into the worst affected areas around San Pedro Sula in Honduras,” he describes.
Vulnerable communities in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala as well as parts of Belize, El Salvador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Panama have been affected by the storms. Early reports indicate that over 5 million people have been affected across the region.
Over 160 are reported dead, flooding has further isolated remote villages, and many have been forced to leave their homes for reportedly overcrowded shelters.
UK Provides Urgent Relief
In response to the storms, the United Kingdom is providing support and vital humanitarian supplies, and GBP 1 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) emergency appeal which will provide shelter, livelihoods, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene products.
“The impact of these hurricanes has been devastating, especially as the same region has been hit twice in a matter of weeks,” says the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Wendy Morton.
HSOT, a UK Aid funded program, was called upon to procure urgently needed supplies for victims. The team procured 2,000 tarpaulins; 1,000 tool kits to help provide emergency shelter; 1,000 cooking sets, and 900 cleaning kits. The supplies will be delivered to the Red Cross to be distributed to 5,000 Honduran families desperately in need.
Grimble notes that the effects of the storms created significant obstacles for HSOT in delivering the supplies. “The regional airport in San Pedro Sula was closed following Eta as the whole area was submerged by flooding and the arrival of Iota affected the delivery plan from Panama. Sea vessel container services were cancelled or delayed, and road conditions in the northeast of Honduras meant certain areas were impassable.”
Thanks to a reassessment of the transport network in the affected areas, Grimble adds that HSOT rerouted the aid supplies and the first of three trucks has successfully arrived in Honduras. “We decided to transport the aid supplies by road from Panama to Honduras along the west coast, a journey that takes four to five days, crossing both Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”
Additional Support is on the Way
The UK is also supporting charities working in the region via the START fund, which provides rapid financing to underfunded crises, and has deployed the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus to assist the United States military relief efforts in Honduras.
According to Morton, additional support is on the way. “The UK is increasing support to help those in need through both our humanitarian and military assistance, providing life-saving shelter, clean water and medicine to people in desperate need,” she says.
Palladium manages the implementation of the Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team, a program funded with UK Aid from the British people. HSOT provides the UK government with capacity and specialist expertise to support effective responses to sudden-onset disasters, crises, and complex emergencies around the world. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.