Water Mission

“I can stand a whole day without eating, but not without drinking water.” – Ramon

In November 2020, the northern coast of Honduras saw extended periods of catastrophic rainfall from Hurricane Eta. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s final report on Hurricane Eta, La Ceiba received 29.25 inches of rain while Tela received 31.63 inches, the highest amount of rainfall throughout the path of Eta. Between the rain, flash flooding, river flooding and deadly landslides, 74 lives were lost in Honduras.

Just one hour southeast of Tela in Urraco, Mayra, Ramon and their five children were trying to escape the rising waters caused by the hurricane. They recount walking hand-in-hand, praying as they sought refuge for their family once the rain began to come through their thatch-roofed, corrugated tin home. Ramon knew the principal of a school located on higher ground; he and Mayra went there to ask for the key and permission to shelter at the school.

Meanwhile, their adult daughter, Jenny, remained at home with her sleeping siblings. While she awaited her parents’ return, the waters began to rise within their home; she worried her parents wouldn’t arrive in time. Thankfully, they returned with the key in hand, and the whole family evacuated right away. Trudging through the muddy waters, the family of seven carried food and a small stove to help wait out the storm. A classroom at the school would become their temporary home.

Hurricane Eta destroyed their home, the house Ramon had built with this own two hands. When Hurricane Iota hit just two weeks after Eta, they were uncertain what more would happen.

“That time, water came up to the steps of the shelter, but no further,” Ramon said with relief in his voice. While staying at the school, access to clean water was limited. They rationed small, donated packets of safe water among the children while the adults drank small cups of boiled water.

“I can stand a whole day without eating, but not without drinking water,” said Ramon.

Mayra cooking rice using safe water from the emergency LWTS next door to their temporary shelter in a school. (Photo source: Water Mission)

As they work toward recovery, Mayra and Ramon no longer have to worry about access to clean water for their family. Water Mission, a Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund grantee partner, has worked within communities in Honduras for the past 20 years. Directly next to the shelter where Mayra and Ramon are staying, Water Mission installed an emergency Living Water Treatment System (LWTS). This system treats 10 gallons of water per minute and will provide sustainable access to clean and safe water for their family.

In Urracos and other communities, Water Mission is working to transition emergency access to water into more resilient, long-term, solar-powered community development projects which will provide permanent access to safe water, not just during a disaster. CDP is proud to support the work of Water Mission as they help families and communities develop sustainable access to clean water.

(Photo: Luis Enrique, 8. drinking safe water at a temporary shelter in Urraco. Source: Water Mission)