SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — Shelters for people whose homes were flooded or damaged by hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras are now so crowded that thousands of victims have taken refuge under highway overpasses or bridges.
The International Red Cross estimates that about 4.2 million people were affected by the back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes in November in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Several hundred thousand are in shelters or informal camps across the region.
But nowhere are the evacuated victims piled up more densely than in the northern Honduras city of San Pedro Sula, where some neighborhoods are still under water. The evacuees say they fear that even when they are eventually allowed to return to their flooded neighborhoods, they will find everything gone.
Orlando Antonio Linares oversees a municipal shelter at a school in San Pedro Sula, where almost 500 hurricane victims have taken refuge. There are about 84 shelters across the city, holding as many 100,000 people.
“I feel the future is uncertain. We have nothing left,” said Sarmiento. “You work your whole life to be left with nothing.”
“What will we have when we go back? Nothing,” she said.
Still, there are those who are worse off. Former maquila factory worker Jarlin Antonio Lorenzo said he couldn’t even find room at a shelter; instead, he and almost 500 other people have camped out under a highway overpass on the outskirts of the city.
“There are no bathrooms, people go up into the hills to go the bathroom,” he said. “People are dying of hunger here … the shelters are full.”