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News -> Gari-News

Hurricane Beta Causes Widespread damage on North Coast of Honduras

11/01/05
By: Wendy Griffin
By Wendy Griffin

TRUJIILO- Hurricane Beta caused extensive damage along the North Coast of Honduras due to copious rains October 28-30. These are similar dates when Mitch hit HOnduas in 1998 and Tropical Storm Katrina in 1999.

Damage was more extensive than during Hurricane Wilma less than two weeks before. Tela, La Ceiba, Tocoa, Sangrelaya, and Trujillo (Rio Negro) were some of the flooded communities. Monday morning there were 5 bridges out and the main road roads from Trujillo to La Ceiba and La Ceiba to San Pedro were not passable. This shows the importance of keeping up secondary roads like the one through Sonaguera that connects Trujillo to La Ceiba after storms.

Rains began Friday night while the hurricane was still off the coast of Nicaragua. Saturday morning the rain bands extended from the Nicaraguan border to La Ceiba. Torrential rains fell Saturday night and until late afternoon on Sunday. The forecast had been for as much as 20 inches of rain by Monday.

All day Sunday HRN radio accepted calls from village after village as they reported they had become inaccessible because of floods or mudslides. They called for help—send clothing, food, medicine, nails and zinc roofing sheets.

There were no helicopters and few boats or trucks to get help to affected areas. Honduran officials and the Armed forces worked really hard to prevent loss of life. There were a few deaths. Reportedly a Sonaguera man tried to rescue his chickens when the river threatened to wash them away and the river took him. A man in Sangrelaya died as well in the flooding.

There was significant material damage—houses destroyed, crops ruined, and cattle drowned. For example 21 families were “damnificado “ or had their houses damages in Irona Viejo. Drinking water projects were damaged in several places like Saba and Trujillo (Barrio San Martin). Telephone lines appear to be down to the Garifuna “Municipio” or County of Iriona. These hurricane have shown the importance of the “Telefonia para el Pueblo” (Telephones for the people) program of Maduro´s government, that people were able to communicate by cell phones, community phones, and even satellite Internet during the storm.

The danger has not yet passed. The rivers were still rising on Monday and various places like Chapagua and Santa Rosa de Aguan were expected to suffer serious flooding. Monday night the remnants of Hurricane Beta were raining on most Honduras. A cold front bringing more rains to already swollen rivers was expected to affect the North Coast the rest of the week.

The most critical problems are food and intransitable highways. The Garifunas of Colon and the Mosquitia lost over 90% of the yucca and most of the bananas and plantains that they planted between Wilma and the latter storm Beta. But getting food to these communities will be rough. The UN World Food Program supposedly has rations in Colon for affected communities, but the dirt highway that led to Iriona was intransitable after the storm.

Over 7,000 people in the Mosquitia had to be evacuated. Others could not even be reached due to a fuel shortage in the area. The seas were too rough to get gasoline to them right away. It is assume there is widespread damage.

The Garifunas watch on TV other tropical depressions make their way across the Caribbean. They call to me, “Doña Wendy, viene otro hurcán.” (Another hurricane is coming). The US Embassy sent to some registered Americans the website address of the National Hurricane Center in the US, so they could track storms that way. But these sites only tell where the eye is, and with both Wilma and Beta Honduras received serious blows even though the eye of the hurricane never touched land in Honduras.

The agency I volunteer with has exchanges with peasant groups around Central America and Mexico. Everyone we work with from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua have been struck by a serious hurricane this year. This could affect the amount of food available, as where will they import the food from if everyone is being affected?


Other Articles By Wendy Griffin
09/06/05 Hondurans Watch Hurricane Katrina From a Distance
04/17/05 Garifunas Celebrate with Joy Their Arrival in Honduras
03/04/05 Bilingual Intercultural Education in Classrooms--An Elusive Goal
02/24/04 Garifuna NGO Recognized for Protecting the Environment
01/30/04 Garifuna Land Struggles Increasingly Violent






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