They Survived Two Hurricanes in a Row, but Their Lives Came to a Halt

“The first hurricane took away the zinc roofing sheets, the second hurricane took everything, it left nothing at all” says a resident of Bilwi

The El Muelle neighborhood of the city of Bilwi was destroyed by the waves. Photo: Elmer Rivas | Confidencial

24 de noviembre 2020


In the area of Nicaragua that received the worst part of the impact of hurricanes Iota and Eta, people thank God that so far there have been no deaths. However, for some of the survivors, their lives continue on hold several days after the disaster.

This is the case of Hamlyn Avila Krik, a 27-year-old Miskito woman who. She has trouble expressing the situation in which her family find themselves in Spanish. The impact of two hurricanes with winds of up to 260 kph over a period of 13 days was devastating.

“My house was destroyed, everything, everything, everything, we have nothing to rebuild, nothing, nothing, nothing,” Avila Krik told EFE. Her maternal tongue is Miskitu, from one of the largest indigenous populations in the North Caribbean Region of Nicaragua. That’s where Eta made landfall on November 3, followed by Iota on the 16th. Both were powerful category 4 hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale, of a maximum of 5.

When the indigenous woman said “everything,” she referred to her house left in ruins. Her family couldn’t recover anything that was inside, either because the wind took it away or because it was destroyed.

“The first hurricane took away all the zinc roofing. The second one took away everything, everything, it left nothing at all,” explained Avila Krik. She spoke by phone from Bilwi, the most impacted city. The woman paused several times either from language constraints or because she was sobbing. It wasn’t easy to describe her feeling of helplessness.

Krik is part of a family of four women, two men, and two minors. They managed to overcome Eta’s blows by “patching up” the roof, but with Iota their lives came to a halt. Now they have no home, food, nor clothes, and the only one with a job, her father, must wait ten more days to get his monthly salary, 2,700 cordobas, equivalent to $77.74 dollars, which he earns as a security guard.

Condition is repeated

“We are staying with a neighbor; she shares food with us. My brother is a teacher, but he can’t find a job. Before he would go to the (Miskito) keys, but there is no work their either. We (the women) have nothing, we help others and they give us food. We have nothing, nothing, we are left…,” says the woman, before falling into a distressing silence. “We are alive thanks to God,” she adds.

Avila Krik and her family were saved because they ran out of their house a few hours before Iota destroyed it. After they were sheltered by their neighbor, they only heard how everything came down. “We only asked God that this wouldn’t happen, but what were we going to do? We cried for the house, but we were always praying to God, who saved our lives,” she said.

Avila Krik’s is not the only family in these conditions. According to data from the Ministry of Finance, Hurricane Eta alone destroyed 1,890 houses, and another 8,700 were partially damaged, adding up to losses of 15 million dollars.

Nonetheless, with Iota the cost of the damage caused by Eta could double or triple, said Finance Ivan Acosta. Basically, Iota knocked down what Eta left standing, and whose destruction has not yet been estimated.

The scope of the destruction is still being calculated. It is feared that indigenous communities such as Haulover, Prinzapolka, Wawa Bar or Karata, which were under reconstruction after being impacted by Eta, may have been almost devastated by Iota.

Community members survived because they evacuated their homes before each hurricane. However, time is running out for some 38,000 of them who found temporary shelter in Bilwi. Some have not received aid and neither do they know where to go when they leave the shelter. Their lives are on hold after losing “everything, everything, everything.”

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Agencia EFE

Agencia de noticias internacional con sede en Madrid, España. Fundada en Burgos durante la guerra civil española en enero de 1939.