Latin America Storms - Fact Sheet #3, (FY) 2021

Speeches Shim

November 24, 2020

USAID/BHA supports humanitarian air bridge to transport relief commodities between Colombia’s storm-affected islands of San Andrés and Providencia.

Persistent rain and flooding continue to hinder response and isolate communities in Guatemala, while JTF-Bravo supports delivery of humanitarian supplies across the country.

CABEI, IDB, and the World Bank announce financial support plan for early recovery and reconstruction efforts across Latin American countries impacted by Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

Situation At A Glance


Reported Deaths in Latin America due to Eta and Iota

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 $1,106,872
DoD $2,061,618
TOTAL $3,168,490


USAID Supports Humanitarian Air Bridge to Transport Supplies Between Colombia’s Storm-Affected Islands

Relief organizations continue to assess the extent of damages from Hurricanes Eta and Iota on Colombia’s San Andrés and Providencia islands, where approximately 9,100 people were affected by the storms, according to the UN. To support Colombia’s National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) and other actors responding to humanitarian needs on the islands, on November 23, USAID/BHA established a humanitarian air bridge to shuttle relief supplies from San Andrés to Providencia—the more heavily impacted of the two islands. Through partnership with a commercial airline for an initial period of 10 days, the flights will transport critical relief supplies, including emergency shelter and construction materials. In addition, on November 24, USAID/BHA completed support for the air transport of approximately 100 metric tons (MT) of Government of Colombia (GoC)-provided relief supplies to the affected islands.

USAID/BHA staff also recently met with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) specialists from UNGRD in Providencia to review damages to potable water networks on the island, determining that the most effective way to deliver safe drinking water for communities is to treat freshwater in a water treatment unit and transport it to nine points throughout the island. As of November 22, local authorities were cleaning sediments from Providencia’s freshwater reservoir and installing a power generator to start operating the main water treatment plant on the island. The Colombian Red Cross (CRC) recently delivered a water treatment unit to Providencia that can process 175,000 liters of water per day, sufficient to cover all water needs for the island. CRC engineers are restoring damaged water infrastructure and plan to begin operating the plant once the repairs are complete, USAID/BHA staff report.

Weather Conditions Hinder Response Efforts in HardHit Areas of Guatemala, Communities Remain Isolated

More than a week since Hurricane Iota triggered heavy rainfall and widespread flooding in Guatemala, weather conditions in some parts of the country are improving; however, rainfall and flooding persist in heavily affected Alta Verapaz Department, while landslides and flooding in Quiché Department continue to restrict humanitarian access to several communities, USAID/BHA staff report. A recent non-governmental organization (NGO) assessment of approximately 10,000 people in rural villages across Alta Verapaz indicated emergency medical and WASH needs, as well as food scarcity resulting from insufficient local resources and stormrelated transportation difficulties. Despite initial delays due to inclement weather, the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-Bravo) is supporting the transport of Government of Guatemala (GoG)-provided relief commodities to hard-to-reach areas across the country, and delivered more than 4 MT of food assistance to Izabal Department on November 23.

The combined impacts of Eta and Iota had resulted in 59 deaths in Guatemala, with 99 people missing and nearly 1.3 million people displaced, as of late November 22, according to the GoG National Emergency Commission (CONRED). More than 31,600 people remain in official shelters, with nearly 202,800 more residing in unofficial sites; many displaced or evacuated individuals lost food reserves and crops due to flood damage, and face severe food insecurity upon leaving shelters and returning to their homes, the UN reports. Further, local authorities and the USAID-supported U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program have issued warnings that heavy rain and flooding from Iota may trigger destructive lahars—or volcanic mudslides—from volcanic debris surrounding Fuego Volcano, threatening populations in Escuintla Department. To support the response to populations in need in Guatemala, the GoG requested a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team on November 23. In response, the UN has identified a team of disaster management specialists to meet this GoG request.

Humanitarian Needs in Honduras Shelters Remain High, JTF-Bravo Coordinates Delivery of UK-Provided Assistance to Puerto Lempira

In Honduras, humanitarian needs generated by the Eta and Iota storms remain significant, particularly among individuals residing in collective shelters, where the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission remains high due to a lack of sufficient hygiene supplies and limited space preventing people from maintaining physical distancing, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and USAID/BHA partner Global Communities report. Protection and WASH support are also priority needs in many Honduras shelters, according to relief actors. UNICEF has emphasized that households in unofficial shelters set up in churches or other buildings are receiving limited assistance to meet humanitarian needs. As of November 23, approximately 88,700 people were sheltering in 969 sites, according to the Government of Honduras (GoH) National Emergency Commission (COPECO), which has urged people from communities still at high flood risk to remain in shelters until it is safe to return. In addition, an estimated 185,000 people in Honduras remain isolated due to access constraints, and COPECO reports approximately 30,500 people were still actively working in rescue and salvage operations as of November 23. To gather more data on the impact of both storms across the country and revise the existing $69.2 million appeal to include Hurricane Iota-related needs, the UN continues to conduct a multi-sector needs assessment, with participation from the USAID-supported Americas Support Team— a group of urban search and rescue technical advisors from the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department.

On November 22, JTF-Bravo coordinated the transportation of UK-provided food assistance and nonfood relief commodities from a UK vessel to Puerto Lempira, the capital of Honduras’ Gracias a Dios Department. In total, the UK provided 6,000 food rations, as well as hygiene kits, plastic sheeting, and water containers, to assist households in Gracias a Dios. USAID/BHA partner GOAL is scheduled to distribute the assistance to storm-affected populations in the coming days, and JTF-B is currently carrying out several other missions to transport GoH-provided relief commodities across the country.

CABEI, IDB, and World Bank Announce Financial Support for Early Recovery, Resilient Reconstruction Funding to Storm-Affected Countries

In response to the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, on November 23 the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the World Bank announced a joint action plan to increase financial assistance in support of humanitarian and early reconstruction activities in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, the plan will finance measures to rehabilitate affected infrastructure in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panama. The financial institutions have created a joint task force to coordinate with host governments, UN agencies, 4 and other relief actors to support immediate needs, develop recovery plans, and eventually carry out resilient reconstruction efforts in affected countries. The IDB will support resilient reconstruction in the most affected countries with new resources of up to $1.2 billion, as well as approximately $500 million reallocated from existing operations and additional resources mobilized from financial institutions that work in the region.


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 Disaster Assistance Response Team (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, JTF-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 GoG and the GoH for the delivery of emergency assistance, transporting nearly 47 MT of GoG- and GoHprovided emergency food assistance, hygiene items, and other commodities during the same period; additional DoD support in response to the effects of Hurricane Iota in Guatemala and Honduras is ongoing. 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 Hurricanes Eta and Iota, and had reached more than 102,000 people with emergency assistance Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama as of November 23. In Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is distributing emergency supplies—including kitchen sets, mattresses, and hygiene items— to affected populations. UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs are coordinating to support populations in collective shelters with emergency food assistance, relief items, and other 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 facilitated the delivery of approximately 100 MT of relief items, including communications equipment, generators, food, medical supplies, and potable water, by November 24. USAID/BHA also established a humanitarian air bridge between San Andrés and Providencia, through which a commercial airline is transporting emergency relief supplies. In addition, 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. Meanwhile, DoD is providing aerial imagery of storm-affected areas of Guatemala to support damage assessments. In addition, on November 23, JTF-Bravo transported more than 4 MT of food rations from Guatemala City to the heavily affected Izabal Department.

Relief agencies had delivered 222,000 liters of safe drinking water to affected people as of November 20, the UN reports. To address needs in Guatemala’s shelters, where overcrowding and the risk of COVID-19 transmission remain a concern, IOM has initiated an Integrated Shelter Registration System to coordinate with local authorities to assess conditions and develop appropriate response plans.


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 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. UNICEF is providing mental health and psychosocial support services to approximately 10,000 people in collective shelters, and the UNICEF-led WASH Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian WASH activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—had reached approximately 21,900 people with WASH supplies and services as of November 20.


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 (GoN) 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. As of November 23, GoN officials had also distributed approximately 100,000 sheets of zinc roofing material in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region to assist communities with emergency shelter. In the 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 Nicaraguan Red Cross also provided a water treatment plant to nearby Waspam Municipality. Additionally, public heath brigades had reached 120,000 people in affected areas with medical assistance as of November 23, the UN reports.