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Hurricanes Eta and Iota destroyed homes all across Honduras including Karina’s (41) Credit: Trocaire

Climate change

Hope for Karina and Honduran communities following devastation of Hurricane’s Eta and Iota

Just three weeks after Hurricane Eta ripped through Honduras Hurricane Iota hit, leaving families and communities - including mother of four Karina - devastated.

Karina, a forty-one-year-old mother of four, was at home in Quebrachitos in western Honduras with her family when Hurricane Iota hit.

Gail force winds tore through the town as the hurricane approached. Karina’s partner, sister, son, daughter, son-in-law and five-month-old granddaughter were all in the house.  Together they braved the violent storms that shook the small wooden house.

Doors and windows were flung open due to the force of the winds. Karina’s daughter and son-in-law desperately shovelled mud to try keep  the door closed. But when two of the house walls collapsed, Karina felt like her world had caved in.

With the help of neighbours, the family managed to safely evacuate their dilapidated home and took refuge in a nearby shelter.The house was destroyed beyond repair.

According to World Bank figures, Hurricanes Eta and Iota caused $2.2 billion in damages in Honduras and impacted more than four million people. According to official figures, more than 368,901 people were displaced and over 100 people died because of the floods.

Before the Hurricane struck Karina’s family were already struggling financially, as they were forced to permanently close their sweet shop because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Karina has four children, aged between 15 and 25 years, and her partner, who works 12 hours a day in a warehouse, is the main family breadwinner. He earns only €107 per month, from which €72 is deducted to pay a loan to buy land where they are building a new house. The family ration what they spend on food to € 0.71 per day as this is all they can afford but daily food costs in Honduras are higher.

From an early age, Karina experienced many traumatic life events. At the age of 20 she was widowed with three young children, before marrying her current partner and father of her fourth child. She was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 28, and was also undergoing treatment for depression. But she was forced to abandon both treatments because her medical documents were destroyed during the hurricane, and she couldn’t afford to replace them.

To add to this, Karina developed osteoarthritis and post-traumatic stress as a result of the hurricane and Covid 19 stresses.

However, Karina and her family are turning their lives around thanks to support  from the ‘Act Now in Times of Eta and Iota’ project, financed by Trōcaire and implemented by our partner Association Calidad de Vida (ACV). , Karina and other victims of the hurricanes have been  provided with wood and zinc sheets to rebuild their homes as well as clothing, food and training on domestic violence.

Four months after arriving at the shelter, Karina and her family who worked hard to build a new home were ready to move in. So far, the house consists of only one room, with high walls and two windows but Karina feels safe in her community and describes it as very nice and cosy.

Karina is grateful for the support provided by Trócaire and ACV to her and other women in similar circumstances.

“I can say that I have a home. Now I feel safe. I have faith and I know that little by my life will improve,” Karina says.

How climate change is worsening hurricane season in Honduras

As temperatures rise, countries like Honduras are experiencing stronger winds and record rainfalls during hurricane season — which is why storms are becoming more destructive and costly.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have shown that warming has increased the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds greater than 110 miles an hour, by about eight  percent a decade.

Tropical storms that make land are persisting far longer and doing more damage than in the past.

As the earth continues to warm, weather disasters like Eta and Iota will continue to impact the most vulnerable communities who contribute the least to climate change. The damage caused by catastrophic hurricanes shows the urgent need for World Leaders to act now on climate change before the damage becomes irreversible.

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