Since Hurricanes Iota and Eta tore through Central and South America in November, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated nearly $48 million in humanitarian assistance to help storm-affected families in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
“Our prayers are with the people of Central America and Colombia suffering from the impacts of Hurricanes Iota and Eta,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said on Twitter on November 21. “The people of the U.S. are behind you.”
Both hurricanes have affected more than 7 million people in Central America alone.
To lead the U.S. government response, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team that has been on the ground since November 17 in Central and South America. Team members have assessed damage, identified priority needs and coordinated with local authorities and humanitarian partners to provide aid.
In the beginning phases of the response, many communities in Guatemala and Honduras were isolated due to storm damage and became extremely difficult to reach.
USAID requested the special capabilities of the U.S. Department of Defense to transport supplies to communities in need. The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement office, in cooperation with Guatemala’s Aerial Task Force for Counter-narcotics and Counter-terrorism Interdiction, flew 99 helicopter missions delivering 46,000 kilograms of supplies to 30 communities.
In support of the USAID-led response efforts, U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force–Bravo flew 364 missions, delivering more than 257 metric tons of food, water, hygiene kits, and other relief supplies over the course of 28 days. The U.S. ship USAV Chickahominy transported heavy machinery provided by the government of Colombia to the hurricane-affected Colombian islands of Providencia and San Andrés.
USAID is providing immediate lifesaving aid to people in the affected countries, including food, hygiene kits, safe drinking water, sleeping mats and basic household items like blankets and kitchen sets.
USAID is also working with partners to lay the groundwork for people to return home and start early recovery efforts.
On December 2, USAID announced it was sending an additional 280 rolls of heavy-duty plastic sheeting to provide emergency shelter for 17,000 people in Honduras who are still without homes.
USAID has also focused efforts in:
- Colombia, where USAID flights helped the government of Colombia deliver 190 metric tons of relief supplies.
- Guatemala, where 11,150 people received cash assistance; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support; and shelter materials to help rebuild homes.
- Nicaragua, where 47,500 people received WASH assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a USAID partner.
“It is a core American value to help those in need,” senior USAID official John Barsa said in a December 3 statement, “and as the world’s humanitarian leader, the United States remains committed to providing lifesaving assistance to people affected by the hurricanes.”