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Hurricane Eta Ravages Honduras

Seth Berry

 
 

A recently displaced family walks past the Chamelecon River, which flooded and destroyed their home. Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta has displaced hundreds of thousands in Honduras. There are many missing people, and the death toll is expected to rise.
 
A recently displaced family walks past the Chamelecon River, which flooded and destroyed their home. Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta has displaced hundreds of thousands in Honduras. There are many missing people, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Hurricane Eta’s initial strike on the Nicaraguan coast as a category 4 storm was not its lethal blow. In the days after landfall, the hurricane settled into a tropical depression that hovered over Honduras’s valleyed terrain and poured out rain for days, watershedding into rivers that overflowed their banks and engulfed entire communities. In the San Pedro Sula valley, major rivers—Ulua, Chemelecon, Blanco—broke their banks and destroyed thousands of homes, stranding hundreds of thousands of people. Most recent numbers claim nearly 2 million people have been affected by the flooding in Honduras alone. The death toll, currently 57, is expected to rise.

Makeshift refugee camps of displaced people have popped up all over San Pedro Sula—some underneath overpasses, on sidewalks, and even taking over entire lanes of the major highway outside of La Lima, the community hit the hardest by flooding. The government response has been slow, dogged by the strain of the pandemic, but also by lack of action and corruption. No preventative measures had been taken, and an evacuation order wasn’t given until the day after the flooding began. Rumors of embezzlement of aid packages are circulating.

Independent organizations, individual Hondurans, and the U.S. military have assumed the brunt of the relief work, from helicopter and boat rescue work to handing out food and hygiene products to the newly homeless.

The people that lived along these banks were already some of the country’s poorest. During the Covid19 pandemic, their situation worsened. With Hurricane Eta, now everything is gone.

Flooded cars along a highway in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, days after Hurricane Eta hit the region.
 
Flooded cars along a highway in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, days after Hurricane Eta hit the region.

 

A woman walks through her flooded home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras after the Chemelecon River flooded in the wake of Hurricane Eta. Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta has displaced hundreds of thousands in Honduras. There are many missing people and the death toll is expected to rise.
 
A woman walks through her flooded home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras after the Chemelecon River flooded in the wake of Hurricane Eta. Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta has displaced hundreds of thousands in Honduras. There are many missing people and the death toll is expected to rise.

 

A displaced woman with all of her belongings sits underneath an overpass in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Without enough shelters, many have had to seek refuge in makeshift camps underneath overpasses in the area of Calpules and Chemelecon.
 
A displaced woman with all of her belongings sits underneath an overpass in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Without enough shelters, many have had to seek refuge in makeshift camps underneath overpasses in the area of Calpules and Chemelecon.

 

People evacuate on the day of major flooding, leaving the lower San Pedro Sula Valley in Honduras to seek shelter elsewhere.
 
People evacuate on the day of major flooding, leaving the lower San Pedro Sula Valley in Honduras to seek shelter elsewhere.

 

A destroyed home on the banks of the Chemelecon river. In the aftermath of Hurricane Eta flooding and mudslides have left hundres of thousands homeless.
 
A destroyed home on the banks of the Chemelecon river. In the aftermath of Hurricane Eta flooding and mudslides have left hundres of thousands homeless.

Seth Berry is an award-winning photographer focused on documenting threats to the human condition in Central America and beyond. You can follow his work here.


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