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'Just Water and Rooftops.' Aid Groups Look To Giving Tuesday For Epic Post-Storm Needs In Honduras

Special to Food For The Poor/Cepudo Staff
Courtesy Food For The Poor, Inc
An aerial view of the northern Honduras town of Choloma submerged under floodwaters left by Hurricanes Eta and Iota this month.

Honduras needs millions of donor dollars to rebuild its decimated housing and agriculture after a month of major hurricanes and catastrophic flooding.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that after three weeks of powerful and relentless storms, Central American countries including Honduras are still underwater. Relief organizations in South Florida are already pivoting from immediate needs to long-term rebuilding efforts.

Honduras was hardest hit by Hurricanes Eta and Iota and other rainstorms in Central America this month. The epic flooding has forced several hundred thousand people from their homes — many if not most of which need to be rebuilt.

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“It’s just something unprecedented and catastrophic," said Antonio Abufele, vice president of CEPUDO, a housing and social outreach organization in Honduras. Abufele spent part of this week surveying the country's tragedy from a helicopter.

"All you see is water and rooftops," he told WLRN. "We’ve been to places where they just tell you the house used to stand there, because there’s not even ruins of what the house was. Entire communities are still without communication, so we still don’t even know the magnitude.”

One of CEPUDO’s U.S. partners is the nonprofit Food for the Poor, based in Coconut Creek. It and groups like it hope next week’s worldwide Giving Tuesday event will bring enough donations to help start Honduras’ rebuilding process.

Food for the Poor can build simple but durable concrete-block houses there for under $10,000.

“We’re hoping for several million dollars," Food for the Poor President and CEO Ed Raine said. "Not only to help in the immediate crisis, but to sort of graduate from relief to the development projects that provide the long-term sustainability these people are going to need.”

Raine said those projects also include desperately needed water filtration and financing for farmers whose crops were destroyed in the storms.

This month's Category 4 hurricanes — which hit Central America within two weeks of each other and made landfall at almost the same location on Nicaragua's Miskito Coast — pounded the isthmus from Guatemala to Panama and dumped 30 inches of rain in some areas. More than 200 people are feared dead, and many believe the damage will reach that caused in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch, which was Central America's deadliest hurricane in more than two centuries.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.