Amauro Flores Archila looks tired. He didn’t sleep the previous night. Instead he stayed up listening to the rain and worrying that another flood would drown his children.
“Yesterday it started raining again and the water rose,” he says. “I was up all night. I couldn’t sleep because I was watching to check that the water wasn’t coming inside. I have three young children, so I needed to be on alert all night.”
Two days earlier, Amauro a single father, came home from work to find his house flooded to chest level. Heavy rains flooded his neighbourhood, Colonia Victoria. The slum on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula sits on a flood plain.
Luckily Amauro’s children were with him at the mechanics where he works. “The children were scared when they saw the state of the house. The door was falling off, so I brought them to a neighbor,” he says. The youngest still remembers being in her mother’s arms during a previous flood, when they had a bad fall on the slippery floor and hurt themselves.
Just 45 minutes of rain destroyed everything Amauro and his family owns - their furniture, TV, shoes, clothes, food, the electric cooker, the kids toys, even the old Christmas tree sits decayed in a corner. Thankfully the break switch had activated, so at least the risk of electric shock was gone.
“Everything was damaged by the water. You can see where the water came half way up the wall,” he says. “The house was full of garbage from the water. It was full of sewage water. All the water coming from the toilets was flowing into the house.”
Amauro doesn’t know how they will afford to buy these items again. There’s no such thing as insurance in the slums.
“I was shoveling the water out of the house all night. I used a shovel and tried to push it into the sewage system. It was really tiring. The mattress was wet, so I slept on a bench.”
Amauro’s house sits at the end of the road in a dip, so it is particularly at risk of flooding. If he could afford it he would build a higher wall around the garden to stop the floods coming in. It’s a problem that is only getting worse.
“I’ve been in the house for six years and 35 years in this neighbourhood,” he says. “I think the problem always existed but it seems to be worse. Small rains are causing lots of damage.
“Since they allowed construction of more houses, the water runs faster down the hill and the problem is much worse. And there are also more people in the area and lots of people throw the garbage in the sewage system, so the drains are overrun.
“I am afraid that there will be many more rains that are forecasted and I’m afraid the problem will get worse.”
The local disaster committee, supported by Trócaire, has been lobbying the council for years to build better drainage in the slum to allow rain water to drain away from the houses.
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