Latin America Storms - Fact Sheet #5 (FY) 2021

Speeches Shim

December 01, 2020

As the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end, floodwaters remain in areas of Guatemala and Honduras affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

Storm damage to health care facilities in Honduras risks increased spread of COVID-19, PAHO reports.

USAID/BHA is providing emergency shelter materials to assist communities to repair damaged structures in Honduras.

USAID/BHA supports UNICEF to scale up protection and WASH assistance in Nicaragua.

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 Official and Unofficial Emergency Shelters in Guatemala and Honduras


Estimated People Isolated From Humanitarian Access in Honduras



For the Latin America Storms Response in FY 2021

USAID/BHA $14,833,073
DoD $6,060,000
TOTAL $20,893,073


Floods, Landsl ides Chal lenge Humanitarian Response, Early Recovery Ef forts in Central America

While national emergency authorities and relief organizations continue to address immediate humanitarian needs among storm-affected populations across Latin America, plans for early recovery efforts and longer-term humanitarian programs are underway, according to the UN. However, although the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is coming to a close, countries heavily affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota—including Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—face the effects of a seasonal cold front, likely to trigger precipitation in the coming days, along with possible flooding and landslides in some areas, the UN reports. While floodwaters have receded in some parts of Honduras, enabling debris removal from major roadways, water levels remain high in many low-lying areas, preventing debris clearance efforts along some roads. Municipal authorities in Cortés Department report that the floodwaters could take up to 60 days to fully recede, slowing the departure of many households from collective centers and informal shelters. In addition, as of November 30, authorities in Copán, El Paraíso and Santa Bárbara departments continued to report landslides blocking roads and cutting off humanitarian access to rural communities. Similarly, approximately 20 towns in Guatemala remained inundated with floodwaters as of November 30, preventing storm-affected populations from returning home and prompting relief actors’ concern over extended stays in shelters and long-term displacement, the UN reports.

Storm Damage to Health Care Facilities Risks Increased COVID-19 Spread in Honduras

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) continues to conduct a rapid assessment of the status of health facilities in Honduras. Preliminary results indicate major losses in equipment, medicines, and other supplies due to storm-related flooding and damage to facilities, with many facilities reporting damage to water supplies. PAHO estimates that a large percentage of the population in storm-affected areas does not currently have access to health care and warned of major damages to primary care facilities in Cortés, where thousands of people are currently sheltering without access to health services. Loss of functioning health facilities is particularly significant in Atlántida, Colon, Cortés, and Santa Bárbara departments, which are home to areas with relatively high coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caseloads. PAHO is working with the Government of Honduras (GoH) Ministry of Health (MoH) to improve testing capacity and support other activities necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. PAHO continues to support the MoH with technical assistance to improve surveillance, health promotion, and information management activities for COVID-19 prevention and response. PAHO has also deployed five emergency medical teams to Cortés to provide services at static facilities and mobile medical clinics.

USAID/BHA Provides Emergency Shelter Materials in Honduras to Support More Than 17,000 People

To address ongoing shelter needs in Honduras, USAID/BHA has sent 280 rolls of heavy-duty plastic sheeting from its warehouse in Miami, Florida, which will assist with early efforts to repair damaged houses and buildings in areas where floodwaters are beginning to recede; the materials are scheduled to arrive in the north Caribbean coast of Honduras in the coming days. USAID/BHA is also mobilizing relief supplies that were pre-positioned in Honduras, including nearly 950 water containers to enable access to safe drinking water and 61 additional rolls of plastic sheeting. USAID/BHA partner Global Communities will distribute the supplies to communities in need in the country. In total, the plastic sheeting will support more than 17,000 people affected by Eta and Iota.

DART Conducts Assessments in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua; USAID/BHA Supports UNICEF to Address Protection, WASH Needs

USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) personnel traveled to Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region from November 25 to 28 to gather information on humanitarian needs and response activities in Puerto Cabezas Municipality and nearby areas, including Tuapi, a community near the coast. Storm surges from Eta and Iota heavily damaged parts of the city closest to the coast, and the DART observed that many trees in Puerto Cabezas were destroyed by the storms, reducing the availability of fruits and leaving the city more vulnerable to future flooding and storm impacts. In Tuapi, most households experienced significant livelihoods impacts as the storms devastated crops and damaged fishing vessels and equipment, and community leaders in noted very little humanitarian assistance had arrived to the area to date. To address livelihoods needs, on November 29, the Government of Nicaragua (GoN) announced plans to distribute 60,000 agricultural kits—comprising seeds, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs—to affected households in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, while the Nicaraguan Forestry Institute plans to deliver 30,000 fruit plants to affected households on the Caribbean Coast in December.

With $1.5 million in FY 2021 funding, USAID/BHA is supporting the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide protection and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance in Prinzapolka, Puerto Cabezas, and Waspan municipalities. The UN agency aims to reach 34,000 people in communities and in evacuation shelters with WASH services, including purification of contaminated water, provision of family hygiene kits, assessment and early rehabilitation of WASH infrastructure, and training of community health workers to engage in public health messaging and ensure appropriate operation and maintenance of WASH facilities. In addition, UNICEF is targeting approximately 13,000 people—including 8,000 children and adolescents—with protection programs, including providing mental health and psychosocial support services, establishing child friendly spaces in shelters and communities, and engaging with local authorities and other relief actors to reduce risks of gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children.

UNDP and USAID/BHA Staff Assess Shelter Needs on Colombia’s Affected Islands, DoD Ship Transport s GoC Equipment for Relief Operations

USAID/BHA staff continue to coordinate with the Government of Colombia (GoC) National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) and other international relief actors to assess shelter and WASH needs on Colombia’s storm-affected islands of San Andrés and Providencia. Alongside representatives from UNGRD, the UN Development Program (UNDP), and local engineers, USAID/BHA personnel have been conducting housing and building repair assessments to inform the development of a plan to address immediate and longer-term shelter needs. Initial reports from UNGRD indicate at least 1,400 houses on San Andrés were impacted—the majority with minor to moderate damage—and the GoC has indicated plans to provide prefabricated houses, as well as reconstructing 1,000 homes on the islands.

USAID/BHA is coordinating with DoD to facilitate transport of approximately 130 metric tons (MT) of GoC-provided heavy machinery—including dump trucks, utility vehicles, and other equipment—from Colombia’s mainland to San Andrés and Providencia on a U.S. army vessel. The ship departed the port city of Cartagena on November 29 and arrived on December 1 to Providencia; the transported equipment will be utilized by the GoC to support efforts to clear debris and enable the initiation of additional humanitarian activities, such as emergency shelter repair, in affected areas.


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 at its height 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 Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala and Honduras, U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-Bravo) rapidly mobilized to rescue people from isolated areas in Guatemala and Honduras. JTF-B also supported USAID/BHA-validated requests for unique DoD capabilities by conducting aerial damage assessments and transporting food rations and relief items on behalf of host governments and humanitarian organizations. JTF-B concluded operations in Guatemala on November 27, and continues missions in Honduras; as of November 30, air crews had transported more than 215 MT total of humanitarian cargo and transported 26 humanitarian personnel in the two countries. Additionally, through a regional mechanism, USAID/BHA is supporting the local procurement emergency food items 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 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. UN agencies and humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are coordinating to support populations in collective shelters with emergency food assistance, relief items, and other humanitarian assistance, as well as providing life-saving assistance to communities isolated by flooding. As of November 30, nearly 60 organizations were implementing more than 1,000 multi-sector humanitarian activities across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, according to the UN.


USAID/BHA provided immediate funding to the American Red Cross to support the distribution of urgently needed relief commodities on San Andrés and Providencia. In late November, USAID/BHA also supported the delivery of approximately 100 MT of GoC relief supplies, including communications equipment, generators, food, medical supplies, and potable water, from Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá to San Andrés. In addition, USAID/BHA has established a humanitarian air bridge between San Andrés and Providencia islands, through which a commercial airline is transporting emergency relief supplies. USAID/BHA also provided 88 tool kits, including hammers, handsaws and screwdrivers; nearly 1 MT of nails; and 80,000 roof tiles to help remove debris and repair roofs on San Andrés. On December 1, a DoD vessel also transported GoC-provided heavy duty equipment from Colombia’s mainland to affected islands to assist with GoC-implemented debris clean up and initial early recovery efforts.

The GoC has delivered food, tents, critical household items, and safe drinking water to affected households in Providencia via boat, and the Colombian Red Cross provided a water treatment unit that can process 175,000 liters of water per day, sufficient to cover all water needs on the island. UNGRD recently allocated nearly $600,000 to support local authorities’ relief efforts to rebuild houses and repair damaged WASH infrastructure on the affected islands.


With USAID/BHA funding, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is providing food assistance and hygiene kits with items to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to affected households in Alta Verapaz and Izabal departments. CRS is also targeting 11,150 storm-affected people with multipurpose cash assistance, WASH support, and shelter assistance in the two heavily affected departments. USAID/BHA partner Save the Children has also pivoted existing programming to provide emergency food assistance, household items, and emergency cash transfers to nearly 620 households in collective shelters. Additionally, with USAID/BHA support, IFRC is providing hygiene items, delivering hygiene promotion messaging, and supporting improved access to safe drinking water.

GoG response operations—supported by the GoG National Emergency Commission (CONRED)—had delivered nearly 1,200 MT of relief commodities and food assistance across the country as of November 26. The UN deployed a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to assist with response coordination and information management, focused on Alta Verapaz and Izabal. At least 14 relief organizations are conducting response activities across the country, and humanitarian partners had delivered 323,700 liters of safe drinking water to affected people as of November 24, the UN reports. To address needs in Guatemala’s shelters, where overcrowding and the risk of COVID-19 transmission remain a concern, the International Organization for Migration 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 distributing blankets, hygiene items, and kitchen sets to individuals residing in collective shelters. USAID/BHA partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) is delivering emergency food assistance to an initial 20,000 households, while several partners, including UNICEF, Global Communities, GOAL, and IFRC, are providing WASH support to people in shelters and affected communities. To meet immediate health needs, IFRC is providing health services, including first aid, psychosocial support, and support to improve community-based surveillance for diseases. UNICEF is also providing services to prevent GBV and violence against children and support other protection needs. In addition, Global Communities, which has been implementing COVID-19 prevention and response activities in Honduras since July, is undertaking COVID-19 mitigation interventions in 59 shelters across Cortés. USAID/BHA partner GOAL is also providing technical assistance in emergency shelter management, as well as support for shelter repair.

The GoH deployed more than 50,000 first response staff and volunteers to conduct search and rescue operations and provide immediate relief assistance to affected populations, and the GoH National Emergency Commission (COPECO) worked with WFP to deliver pre-positioned emergency food assistance to the most affected communities on the coast of Honduras. An UNDAC team in Honduras is supporting coordination among various international relief actors, with assistance from the USAID/BHA-supported Americas Support Team—a group of urban search and rescue technical advisors from the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire and Rescue Department. At least 29 different humanitarian organizations have reported multi-sector response activities across the country, reaching nearly 296,000 people with WASH assistance and nearly 217,000 people with food security and nutrition assistance as of November 30, according to the UN.


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. In addition, USAID/BHA is supporting UNICEF to reach 34,000 people in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region’s Prinzapolka, Puerto Cabezas, and Waspan municipalities with emergency and early recovery WASH assistance, as well as protection services—including psychosocial support, child-friendly spaces, and technical assistance to local authorities to address GBV risks—targeting 13,000 people.

Following Hurricane Eta’s landfall, the 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. As of November 27, the GoN had distributed nearly 350,600 sheets of zinc roofing material in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region to assist communities with emergency shelter. In Prinzapolka, 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.