Latin America Storms - Fact Sheet #2, (FY) 2021

Speeches Shim

November 22, 2020

Government authorities deliver assistance to storm-affected populations in Colombia’s Providencia and San Andrés islands.

Landslides in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua result in several deaths, with some individuals still missing as of November 20.

The UN issues a $69.2 million appeal for the Honduras humanitarian response to Hurricane Eta’s impacts, while PAHO appeals for $9.9 million to conduct response activities in three countries.

Situation At A Glance


Reported Deaths in Latin America due to Eta

5.2 million

Estimated People Affected by Eta and Iota in Central America


Estimated People in Emergency Shelters in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua

69.2 million

Funding Requested for Response to Eta in Honduras



For the Latin America Storms Response in FY 2021

USAID/BHA $1,004,808
DoD $2,542,541
TOTAL $3,066,426


Relief Actors Respond to Needs in Colombia’s Providencia and San Andrés Islands

Hurricanes Eta and Iota caused widespread damage and destruction in Colombia’s Providencia and San Andrés islands, including to houses and health facilities, as well as electricity, telecommunications, and water supply infrastructure. More than 2,800 people in San Andrés and approximately 6,300 people in Providencia—the entire population of the island—were estimated to have been affected by the storms, the UN reports. Emergency food assistance, health services, hygiene kits, shelter, and potable water were among the most urgent needs identified as of November 19, according to the UN.

Two USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) personnel traveled to Providencia on November 20 to conduct a damage and needs assessment, evaluate the viability of water sources, and determine options for the U.S. Government (USG) to support the Government of Colombia (GoC) to provide shelter and water assistance to populations on the island. In partnership with the GoC, USAID/BHA is also providing air transportation support to deliver urgently needed GoC relief supplies from Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá to San Andrés, and has transported 70 metric tons (MTs) of food, water, medical supplies, emergency communications equipment, generators, and tools for debris removal to the island. On November 20, the GoC began delivering food, tents, and safe drinking water to affected households in Providencia via boat.

Landslides Result in Several Deaths in Central America

Hurricane Iota brought significant levels of rainfall to areas of Central America where soils were heavily saturated with water due to the passage of Hurricane Eta two weeks prior, destabilizing slopes in several areas. Between November 17 and 19, three landslides occurred in Honduras, two landslides occurred in Nicaragua, and one took place in Guatemala, resulting in at least 28 deaths, according to local media estimates from November 20. At the site of one of the landslides, which occurred on November 17 in Matagalpa Department’s Tuma-La Dalia Municipality, Nicaragua, 15 people remained missing as of November 20, with nine reported deaths and 19 people injured. Local authorities continue search and rescue efforts.

UN Launches Appeal for Response in Honduras, as Many Households Remain Isolated by Floods

The UN, in coordination with Government of Honduras (GoH) National Emergency Commission (COPECO) and humanitarian agencies, released a flash appeal on November 19 requesting $69.2 million to support relief activities in Honduras in response to the effects of Eta. According to the appeal, 2.3 million people were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance due to Eta, and the humanitarian community is seeking to assist the 450,000 most vulnerable individuals. The storm generated the most severe damage in Atlántida, Cortés, Santa Bárbara and Yoro departments, including the Sula Valley, where an estimated 30 percent of the country’s population resides, the UN reports. Eta’s passage over Honduras has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, significantly increasing humanitarian needs. Food security is the most significant humanitarian concern; relief agencies have also identified needs for additional water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), protection, shelter, health, and education, support, as well as continued assistance to mitigate and respond to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Communities along the Caribbean coast of Honduras were already experiencing some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the country prior to Eta, and the passage of storms Eta and Iota has created conditions that could worsen the spread of the disease. An estimated 2.5 million people countrywide had limited or no access to health services as of November 20 due to damages to health facilities, according to the GoH Ministry of Health and partners. Additionally, humanitarian actors report that the total number of people in need of assistance in Honduras, as well as required funding, is expected to increase greatly after relief agencies complete assessments of Iota’s impacts.

Rainfall from Iota has flooded much of northern Honduras, according to COPECO, which continues to gather data on impacts. The floodwaters inundated collective shelters, including in Cortés Department’s La Lima and San Pedro Sula municipalities. DART personnel report that Iota resulted in breakage of several levees in areas near the Ulúa River, including El Progreso, La Lima, and San Pedro Sula municipalities. In some areas of La Lima, high flood levels following Iota’s passing damaged or destroyed houses. COPECO is working with the Honduran Red Cross, police, other government institutions, and volunteers to coordinate rescues by boat in flood-affected areas.

Five personnel from the Americas Support Team (AST)—a group of urban search and rescue technical advisors from the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department—arrived in Honduras on November 19 to provide logistical and operational support to the storm response. AST personnel also delivered communications equipment for the San Pedro Sula On-Site Operations Coordination Center, which will further support the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team in Honduras to continue critical assessment, coordination, and information management activities. In addition, AST members are participating in ongoing UN-led multisector needs assessments to determine the extent of damage and unmet needs following Hurricane Iota.

PAHO Requests $9.9 Million to Address Health-Related Needs in Three Storm-Affected Countries

Eta and Iota heavily damaged several health facilities across Central America, including at least 55 in Honduras, 72 in Guatemala, and 11 in Nicaragua—limiting affected populations’ access to health care. Limited availability of potable water at health facilities, road blockages due to debris and flooding, and reduced capacity of health care personnel, many of whom were affected by the storms, have further stressed health care resources in the three countries and other affected countries in Central America. In response, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released an appeal on November 18 requesting $9.9 million in humanitarian funding to respond to health needs in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua during the next six months. PAHO activities will support improvements in health service delivery, availability of safe drinking water, and hygiene and sanitation conditions in storm-affected areas. The organization will work to improve epidemiological surveillance and disease control and prevention efforts, including for COVID-19.


Immediately following Hurricane Eta’s landfall over Central America, USAID/BHA staff in the region began coordinating response activities with national authorities and USAID/BHA partners. On November 17, USAID activated a DART—supported by 40 personnel across seven countries—to assess damages, identify priority needs, and work with partners to provide assistance to affected populations, and a Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team (RMT) to support the DART. In response to the effects of Hurricane Eta, the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo flew 24 missions, rescuing 187 people from isolated areas in Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama between November 6 and 13. DoD also provided air transport and logistics support to the Government of Guatemala (GoG) and the GoH for the delivery of emergency assistance, transporting nearly 47 MT of GoG- and GoH-provided emergency food assistance, hygiene items, and other commodities during the same period. Through a regional program, USAID/BHA is also supporting the local procurement and provision of supplies and emergency relief items for affected populations in Belize, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting national Red Cross societies across Central America to respond to immediate humanitarian needs resulting from Hurricane Eta. In Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the International Organization for Migration is distributing emergency supplies—including kitchen sets, mattresses, and hygiene items—to affected populations. UN agencies and humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are coordinating to support populations in collective shelters with emergency food assistance, relief items, and other forms of humanitarian assistance.


USAID/BHA is providing air transportation support to deliver urgently needed GoC relief supplies from Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá to San Andrés. The first USAID-supported commercial cargo flight, carrying emergency communications equipment, generators, and tools for debris removal, arrived on the island on November 20; in total, USAID-supported flights are facilitating the delivery of 70 MT of relief items, including communications equipment, generators, food, medical supplies, and potable water. In addition, on November 22, USAID/BHA provided 88 tool kits, including hammers, nails, handsaws and screwdrivers, to help remove debris and repair roofs on San Andrés. The GoC is also delivering food, tents, and safe drinking water to affected households in Providencia via boat.


With USAID/BHA funding, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is supporting 200 displaced households in Alta Verapaz with food assistance, as well as household items and hygiene kits. USAID/BHA partner Save the Children has also pivoted existing programming to provide emergency food assistance to nearly 620 households in collective shelters. As of November 22, DoD continued to provide aerial imagery of storm-affected areas of Guatemala to support damage assessments.

As of November 6, the UN had activated two additional clusters—coordinating bodies for sector-specific humanitarian activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—to coordinate shelter and WASH activities in Guatemala. Relief agencies had delivered 222,000 liters of safe drinking water to affected people as of November 20, the UN reports.


With USAID/BHA funding, ADRA and World Vision are procuring blankets, hygiene items, and kitchen sets to distribute to individuals residing in collective shelters. In addition, USAID/BHA partner Global Communities, which has been implementing COVID-19 prevention and response activities in Honduras since July, is implementing COVID-19 mitigation interventions—including infection prevention and control training, risk communication and hygiene promotion activities, and the distribution of hygiene and disinfectant kits—in 59 shelters across Cortés Department. USAID/BHA partner GOAL is also shifting existing programming to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts in parts of Guatemala and Honduras, reaching approximately 2,000 people with handwashing stations at shelters and hygiene promotion messaging.

The GoH has deployed more than 50,000 first response staff and volunteers to conduct search and rescue operations and provide immediate relief assistance to affected populations. Response teams are utilizing eight helicopters and 52 boats to access isolated communities.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) is coordinating with COPECO to deliver pre-positioned emergency food assistance to the most-affected communities on the coast of Honduras. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing mental health and psychosocial support services to approximately 2,000 people in collective shelters.


USAID/BHA is supporting UNICEF to provide emergency WASH services to approximately 13,500 people—including nearly 6,100 children—in heavily affected areas of the North Caribbean Autonomous Region and Jinotega and Nueva Segovia departments.

The Government of Nicaragua mobilized military personnel, fire brigades, and Nicaraguan Red Cross teams to evacuate populations, provide medical care, deliver emergency assistance, and remove debris from blocked transportation routes following Hurricane Eta’s landfall. In the North Caribbean Autonomous Region’s Prinzapolka Municipality, the Nicaraguan Red Cross provided food assistance, hygiene kits, and a water treatment plant and deployed a team to provide psychosocial support to affected populations.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietarily, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at:

  • USAID Center for International Disaster Information:
  • Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at