UPDATE: Nicaragua has been mostly dry for the last four days, as Hurricane Rina passed us by. Now comes the work of repair and reseeding.
We’ve had 10 days of nearly continuous rain in Nicaragua (and throughout Central America) as a result of first Hurricane Jova, then a succession of tropical depressions. In that time over 60 inches of rain has fallen in Central America, washing away bridges and roads and leaving entire communities without access to transportation or food supplies. For comparison, Hurricane Mitch, the last catastrophic weather event, dumped 34 inches of rain over the course of several days in 1998.
Today I finally reached my host family in La Pita, northern Nicaragua, by phone, since they do not have a cell signal in the house and weren’t able to leave during the heavy rains. They told me they’ve been without bus service since the road to the village was damaged in the first days of the storm. The government recently resupplied the tiny village store with basic goods that sold out immediately. My host sister Deyra said they had run out of food but were hoping their father would get to town to restock, via another road about an hour uphill on foot from La Pita. Worse, the Defensa Civil, government engineers, told them to evacuate their house because of the danger of a landslide from the steep hill above, but they chose to remain because there’s nowhere else to go. Deyra told me that the wind blew water into their adobe house via openings in the roof and all their clothes are wet, though she was remarkably hopeful, because a break from the rain today would allow them to dry some of their clothes.
In other communities around Nicaragua there has been severe flooding, forcing people to evacuate their homes, and critically for the future, leave behind crops and animals. The government reported yesterday that the country has lost hundreds of thousands of acres of crops, and that thousands more acres are in danger of total loss. The death toll in all of Central America has topped 100, with 16 deaths in Nicaragua.
The weather forecast is for at least another week of rain. Even if the rain stops, the rivers and lakes will continue to rise, and there are millions of dollars’ worth of road and bridge repairs to be made. The presidents of Central America recently issued a call for help from the international community but I have observed little coverage of the disaster in the American press. I’m still researching which international aid organizations are mobilizing aid and will post that info. when I get it.
In the meantime my friend Juanita (who I talked about in my last post, on her work with organic gardens) is collecting funds to bring supplies to Miraflor—she’s already delivered milk and children’s clothes to La Pita and sent out a request for donations which I am linking to below. I am also posting links to articles from the Nicaraguan newspapers because so far I have found little detail in the American press. I will update this post as I learn more.