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'Worse Than Mitch.' Tropical Storm Eta's Flooding Leaves Tens Of Thousands Homeless in Honduras

EtaHonduras.jpeg
Delmer Martinez
/
AP
A pregnant woman is carried out of flood waters near San Pedro Sula last week after Tropical Storm Eta battered Honduras.

With whole towns under water in Honduras, aid workers compare Eta to the epic flooding Hurricane Mitch dumped on the Central American nation in 1998.

Tropical storm Eta caused bad flooding in Florida — but nowhere near as bad as it did in Central America, especially in Honduras, where aid workers and tens of thousands of displaced residents are comparing the disaster to catastrophic Hurricane Mitch two decades ago.

“Many people say this storm is worse," said Nohelia Palou, a project manager for the nonprofit National Foundation for Honduran Development (FUNADEH), based in hard-hit San Pedro Sula.

"It caught us really unprepared. I was at [the northern Honduran town of] La Lima this week, which is destroyed," Palou said. "Bridges fell down, so many communities are not connected right now. They cannot have access to help.”

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Eta poured heavy rain on northern Honduras last week for more than two days. Images show whole towns like La Lima underwater. In large cities like San Pedro Sula, hordes of people driven from their inundated homes are huddling on any dry patch they can find with no food or water.

As many as 100,000 Hondurans may be displaced. The Honduran government is being criticized for slow warnings about, and response to, the storm — especially the fact that it encouraged Hondurans to go on holiday last week to stimulate the economy when it was apparent a powerful tempest was approaching.

Palou said Hondurans need mostly food, clean water, electricity and especially water pumps.

She also warns this could make Honduras’ already heavy COVID-19 pandemic caseload even worse.

“Right now many people are in shelters that do not have access to biosecurity equipment," she says.

Eta also battered Guatemala, where a mudslide is thought to have killed scores of villagers.

In South Florida, shipping companies like SerCargo Express in Doral and the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth are working to aid Eta victims with aid donations and communications outreach.