Surviving the worst hurricane of 2020

Maryuri's story

2020 will remain in history as the dark year of the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But it will be also remembered as the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season brewed a whopping 30 named storms – 14 of them hurricanes.

Eta and Iota, which battered parts of South America just two weeks apart in early November, were Category 4 storms.

In Honduras, Maryuri and her family experienced first-hand the wrath of these hurricanes. This is a story known and lived by many, just like Maryuri. Despite losing everything, the family managed to start again.

In partnership with Habitat for Humanity Honduras and the Rotary Club of San Pedro Sula, we provided families like Maryuri’s with emergency shelter and aid.

Read Maryuri’s story of survival here.

The worst hurricane of 2020


Hurricane Iota was the 30th named storm

For 28 years, Maryuri, her partner Irvin and their five children lived and worked on a banana field plantation in northern Honduras. During that time, they lived in a wooden house, which Maryuri’s mother helped them build.

That was until November 2020, when category 4 Hurricane Eta made landfall and caused extreme damage across Honduras. Heavy rains brought flooding and landslides. Just weeks later, Hurricane Iota followed a similar path, becoming the strongest hurricane of the year.

“That day I was working, and some people said it was going to flood the area. The night before it was heavy rain, I kept the hope that it was not going to happen, but it did. It was 7am and we went to see the water in the irrigation canals. The level was getting higher and was changing the course.”

A woman sitting down with her three children

At about 9 am we went to my house and the water was inside. My cooker was brand new, and I’d only bought it a day before. I was just able to cook a last supper, and then I moved some things to my mom’s house. Later someone with a big bus came to evacuate us. I encouraged my family to come with me. The bus was pretty full, and they took us to a shelter in a high school.

Losing everything in a day


A livelihood in pieces

A woman sat down with her daughter

Maryuri’s father had to stay on top of a tree to avoid the flooding. From there, he watched as his daughter’s home was washed away by the menacing hurricane.

That day, Maryuri lost everything, including her brand-new cooker. When the family were able to return home, they were shocked and devastated.

“There was nothing. With the second flood, the soil was not able to absorb all the water and remained high for long time after. We took shelter again beside the highway and that is when someone told us that we were going to get a tarp and other things donated.

“We stayed there with just very poor nylons and still it rained for three more months.”

On the road to recovery


With help from ShelterBox

On the day we provided Maryuri with emergency shelter aid, she explained, “They gave us instructive pages, and my brother-in-law who knew about building gave us some recommendations. We use all the items, the cooking set, dishes and utensils are very handy. We later obtained wood to raise the house. The bags you gave us were pretty useful as we used them to contain tools, saw, hammer, nails, well – everything.”

However, Hurricanes Eta and Iota were not the first extreme storms that the family had lived through. Maryuri reflected, “I remember hurricane Mitch, I was younger I used to live with my mom, that time we stayed at the roof top of the house for few days.

“We saw the cows and other animals trying to swim around us, it was a lot of suffering, I lost everything, I had to start from scratch. So many years of work to obtain things and we lost everything in a short while. These last storms [Eta and Iota] were the worse ones.”

Despite the recent devastation, Maryuri is looking towards the future and hopes to find work again.

“I trust in God, to get a new job, that’s my dream to obtain a job.” When asked about her thoughts for the future, she said: “I feel afraid, I haven’t even bought a new bed as I’m afraid to lose it again.”

"Storms are getting stronger"

Climate change is causing millions of people like Maryuri to lose their homes. Maryuri explained, “storms are more frequent and stronger, I never saw two big storms in less than a week.”

Read more about how climate change affects disasters, and how we help communities on the frontline of the climate crisis.

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