“This also happened 22 years ago. Even the catholic church was flooded; a street was covered and after two weeks it went back to normal. It was not as big as what happened now”. The flood caused by the hurricanes Eta & Iota in Campur (San Pedro Carchá, Alta Verapaz) has no precedent in the minds of the residents.
Norma Azucena Xol Ché had lived her entire life there. Her grandfather was a foreman on a German family’s farm, her mother did community work with the Salesians, and she worked at school, but now everything is underwater.
“Mi house has been underwater for over 30 days, as well as my grandfather’s land. My mom lost her house. We were left with nothing, with no house, nothing”, she repeated.
Norma was part of a savings group, and that day she was with approximately 37 people. “I will never forget the date and time when one of the houses started to fall apart. I told the women to pray, then we talked about the need to evacuate, and they went to leave their belongings to my house, thinking that the water would not reach it”.
After what happened, people emigrated to a community 10 kilometers away, but it did not have electricity, bathrooms, nor potable water, so they had to move again.
“Now some of us are in Cobán and (San Pedro) Carchá. We are scattered along the entire route. Unfortunately, I have only heard once that CONRED came, but according to what they say, Campur will be uninhabitable, so only God knows if we will return to our house.”
The losses were not only material, as there were also psychological consequences affecting the population, especially the boys and girls.
“Our children cry and ask to go home every day. They cry because they can’t go back. My 6-year-old girl asks me: when are we going to return home? They don’t understand why they are in the shelters.”
The impact of Hurricanes Eta and Iota affected more than 700 families, and the recovery of the community will be a long-term process. It is necessary to ensure access to adequate food and safe water immediately. Later on, work must be done to recover their livelihoods and find them an appropriate place to live.