04 de diciembre de 2020
ÚLTIMAS NOTICIAS:
 1300x90
Hispanic World

Iota homeless in Colombia: between exodus and nights in the open

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Providencia, Colombia, Nov 22 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of residents of the Colombian island of Providencia who lost everything when Hurricane Iota swept away their homes are fleeing each day to the nearby island of San Andres, while those who cannot do so are seeking shelter in the main church, one of the few buildings remaining standing after the storm.

The Providencians, whose lives changed radically last Monday morning when the powerful hurricane blasted the second largest island in the archipelago - also comprising San Andres and Santa Catalina - are being evacuated on humanitarian flights operated by the Colombian air force that depart daily from the El Embrujo airport and land at the international Gustavo Rojas Pinilla terminal.

After Iota left them homeless, local residents have been asking to be put up in the homes of friends and relatives living on San Andres, which the storm did not devastate to the same degree.

"My daughter is 16 and has a problem with curvature of the spine. It's been two years since she had spinal surgery and she has to be (monitored). I had to send her to San Andres because she can't do anything for herself and we don't have a doctor, we don't have a hospital. My daughter can't be here," Angela Contreras told EFE.

The Contreras home collapsed when the Category 5 hurricane passed over Colombia's only island province, and Angela, her husband and daughter managed to take refuge in the bathroom, the safest spot in the house because it has a concrete roof.

"I sent my daughter to San Andres with another relative who's taking care of her for me while we try to rebuild the house. The people who have young children have to try and evacuate them to the other nearby island so the kids can have everything like medicine and food, and also mental support because the truth is that they've been psychologically affected" by the storm, Angela said.

The islanders who began the exodus to San Andres and other parts of Colombia packed up the few belongings they could rescue from the ruins of their homes in suitcases.

Jenny Garcia came to El Embrujo airport to say goodbye to her daughter, but she is remaining on Providencia to try and rebuild "at least a room" in which she can spend the night without getting wet when it rains.

"I'm moving my daughter in with her other sisters who are on San Andres because it's up to me to handle everything about the house because if you leave there's nobody to take care of what's yours. My house collapsed. I lost everything, absolutely everything. Nothing was left," she told EFE.

The islanders wait in lines outside the small airport where they await the arrival of the airplanes that are coming in from San Andres loaded with humanitarian aid and then are flying back filled with refugees or people who are ill.

The people who remain on the island don't have many options. They can either spend the night under tents distributed by the government, stay with a neighbor whose home was less damaged than theirs or sleep with only the sky for their roof.

Sleeping under a tent is a luxury that not many have right now. Some of them were set up inside the Our Lady of Sorrows church in the center of the island, which although its roof was torn off, was not knocked down by the storm.

More than 100 people were being housed in a communal room in the parish but they had to be relocated to other spots to avoid becoming super-spreader sites for the coronavirus, and that was how the church became transformed into a shelter.

"The church has become a shelter and we have families housed there. They brought us some tents and we managed to set up about 10 here in the church to socially distance from others," Father Benito Huffington, who with the help of local residents built the church 25 years ago, told EFE.

The priest said he believed that the complete reconstruction of the church, which can seat some 500 worshippers, could take several years because the government's priority is to help get the homes reestablished, along with electricity and communications services, in the wake of the storm.

"I've been working with this community, with the islanders, for 31 years, and this disaster came to us and laid everybody low because the destruction is complete. It's not partial. Ninety-nine percent of the houses are collapsed and roofless, so that nobody can help anyone," Huffington said.

Those who were able to find refuge in the church go to the ruins of their homes during the day to continue cleaning up after the disaster and return at night to sleep at the church, some of them with their babies in their arms.

The priest said he understands the needs of the community because he himself saw how the hurricane took off the church's roof and knocked down part of his own home, a tragedy that he said "spared no-one."

"I was with three nuns and when the whole roof came off we took shelter in a bathroom from 11 pm until 1 pm the next day. The hurricane passed and now we have to live in the bathrooms because there's no place for us to sleep, the (rain) comes and we get wet. The only (protected) places are the bathrooms and we sleep there every night," he said.

Histórico de noticias
Tension growing between Trump, Barr after AG denied finding election fraud

By Lucia Leal

IDB urges international, private involvement to halt human trafficking

Washington, Dec 3 (efe-epa).- The Inter-American Development Bank on Thursday urged greater cooperation among international actors and the private sector to...

Mexican army to take part in Covid-19 vaccination plan

Mexico City, Dec 3 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday confirmed that the Mexican army and the Navy Secretariat will be...

US exceeds 3,000 Covid-19 deaths per day on threshold of winter

By Jairo Mejia

Biden confirms he won't remove tariffs on China immediately

New York, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden said Wednesday that he will not remove the tariffs on China imposed by President Donald Trump and will...

US resumes talks on new fiscal stimulus package

Washington, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- The seriousness of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the US and the election victory of Democratic...

UN urges world to mount rescue operation for planet, nature

New York, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that humanity is waging a suicidal "war" against nature...

Reality contradicts Mexico's claim Covid-19 pandemic is under control

By Pedro Pablo Cortes

Biden urges more fiscal support to ensure recovery for all

By Alfonso Fernandez

Bipartisan group of lawmakers presents new stimulus proposal

Washington, Dec 1 (efe-epa).- A group of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday presented a proposal for a new stimulus package valued at $908...

The collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope, chronicle of a death foretold

San Juan, Dec 1 (efe-epa).- The collapse on Tuesday morning of the world renowned radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in northwestern Puerto Rico was...

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon at highest level since 2008

Sao Paulo, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region is getting worse under the Jair Bolsonaro administration. Between August 2019 and July...

Republican Arizona certifies Biden win

Tucson, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- The state of Arizona on Monday certified the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election there and officially declared Joe Biden...

Biden announces economic team, taps Yellen for treasury secretary

By Susana Samhan

Pro-government Cubans demonstrate vs. artists' movement in Havana

Havana, Nov 29 (efe-epa).- Several hundred people convened by government-backing Cuban youth organizations gathered in a Havana park on Sunday to express...

Iota deals another blow to Colombian archipelago's tourism amid pandemic

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Trump administration gives OK for Biden transition to formally begin

Washington, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Monday that he had given the green light to the government to formally allow the transition to...

Pandemic worsens gender violence against women in Ecuador

By Daniela Brik

Trump appeals case tossed in Pennsylvania, hoping to get it to Supreme Court

Washington, Nov 22 (efe-epa).- The reelection campaign of President Donald Trump on Sunday appealed a court decision to throw out his most important...

Iota homeless in Colombia: between exodus and nights in the open

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Pentagon confirms large troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in January

Washington, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- US Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller on Tuesday officially announced a partial withdrawal of US troops from...

Out-of-control Covid puts Trump up against urgent need to admit his election defeat

By Jairo Mejia

Obama's memoirs, a critical and optimistic look at a divided US

By Lucia Leal

Colombian island of Providencia devastated by Iota

Bogotá, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- The Colombian island of Providencia, a 17-square-kilometer paradise in the Caribbean Sea, has been almost entirely devastated by...