The U.S. Agency for International Development is leading the U.S. response to back to back hurricanes in Central America. USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team is working alongside the U.S. military to help victims after the devastating storms.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit the region November 3rd and 16th killing a reported total of 189 people and affecting more than 6 million in Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Alison Lapp is a response manager for the Latin American and Caribbean Hurricane Response Management Team at USAID:
“In some places, the flooding was neck high or even higher. And so as a result, tens of thousands of people needed to flee their homes and go to collective evacuation centers."
Those evacuation centers are where USAID’s Teamis focusing on immediate “life-saving activities,” including the provision of food and clean drinking water as well as other basic needs:
“USAID has been providing, for example, mattresses, blankets, and hygiene kits in those shelters to make life there more manageable. We have also funded the installation of sanitation facilities and showers to help again meet the basic needs of these people.”
The United States government has allocated nearly $48 million to assist vulnerable populations affected by hurricanes in Latin America. In support of USAID’s response, the U.S. military delivered 1.2 million pounds of food, water, and other critical relief supplies to the hard-to-reach areas that needed it most.
Funds from existing COVID-19 response programs are being used to help prevent the spread of the disease in evacuation facilities.
All of this builds on years of USAID efforts to strengthen local disaster response capacity, enhance early warning systems, teach disaster preparedness to primary school children, develop community action plans, and train first responders.
In the longer term, the current aid will also lay the groundwork for people to return to their communities and help start early recovery efforts.
“The programs that we put in place will continue for up to 12 months. From there, we turn over to our USAID development colleagues in the missions in each of these countries who will work on reconstruction and then back to longer term development in support of these countries.”
“This is just the generosity of the American people on display,” said Lapp, “from the hearts of the American people straight to those who are most affected by disasters.”