Making life easier for people who have lost everything in Honduras

Published: 2 November 2011 16:26 CET

By Orfa Mejia in Honduras

Thousands of people in Honduras are facing the prospect of rebuilding their communities following extensive floods which caused landslides. The floods, caused by heavy rains in the south of the country, has left some houses buried in up to two meters of mud. The cleanup operation will take serious time and effort, and may pose its own dangers.

At the edge of the road, families have piled up whatever could be rescued and cleaned – sofas, beds, refridgerators, stoves and mattresses – not realising that these can cause serious health problems in the future.

Floods and landslides, which tend to hit the poorest hardest, don’t just devastate homes, they can also lead to problems with the basics of life such as food, education, health, and clothing, and the waters left by floods can harbour serious diseases.

Rolando Jose Giron lives along the road opposite the cemetery in Los Llanitos, Marcovia. He is a welder and lives with his wife and their four children. While his family is not able to help with the dangerous cleanup, Rolando, with the assistance of a friend, has spent four days digging thier possesions out of the mud that engulfed the family home.

It is the second time he’s had to deal with effects of a landslide and, he says, he is scared for the future. The first burial was caused by hurricane Mitch in 1998. This time he managed to save their belongings, this time there was only time to evacuate the family.

“The most important thing was to get out with my family, my children,” he says. “The Red Cross has made life easier. They have provided medicine, clothes and food.”

Jose Cabrera, president of the Honduran Red Cross in the city of San Lorenzo, says that for many communities, water is becoming a problem. Water is being brought in from rivers or wells, and no one knows if it contaminated. “People do not have basic services. Many have lost their jobs and, those who had them, crops. They also lack drinking water,” he says.

The Honduran Red Cross has mobilized to attend to those in need, working with municipal and governmental authorities, as well as civil society organizations in the evacuation of people who are at risk and in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the area.