Guatemala: Tropical Storm Agatha Leaves Trail Of Hunger

Ambrosio Lopez and Lorena Gonzalez lost their home, their harvest and all their livestock in the floods unleashed by Tropical Storm Agatha. Copyright:WFP/Hugo Rodgriguez & Mahomed Vasquez

Thousands of families lost their homes last month when Tropical Storm Agatha struck Central America and unleashed a rash of floods. Farmers Ambrosio Lopez and his wife Lorena Gonzalez are among those now threatened with hunger. WFP is currently assisting over 50,000 in Guatemala in the wake of the disaster.

By WFP Field Monitors Hugo Rodriguez and Mahomed Vasquez

Ambrosio Lopez (38), his wife Lorena Gonzalez (25) and their four children Jairo (7), Ingrid (6), Jessica (5) and Marco Antonio (2) spent two days on a small hill surrounded by a torrent of water from the flooded Motagua River together with other families from their community.

“At 5:00 am on Sunday 30 May, we had water up to our knees. Women and children were screaming and crying in despair and we all ran to a small hill near our house,” recounted Ambrosio. The Lopez family lives about 800 metres from the river in the community of Los Limones in the municipality of Gualan, Zacapa province, about 167 kilometres from Guatemala City.

“Around 10 a.m., we saw that all our belongings had been washed away: our house, our chickens and the corn and beans that was to last us for the next four months until the harvest," said Lorena.

Bitter irony

The irony is that the Lopez family was already affected by another emergency: the prolonged drought in Guatemala’s dry corridor. They had received WFP assistance in order to guarantee their food security until they were able to plant a new crop, but now Tropical Storm Agatha has worsened their situation. "We will not be able to plant since our small piece of land is completely destroyed," said Lorena.

After 48 hours of isolation from the rest of the country, finally the waters began to recede and the Lopez family moved to the nearest shelter with other 500 families that have all been affected by Tropical Storm Agatha. For the moment these families cannot go back to their homes because they are destroyed, underwater or severely damaged.

To address this emergency, WFP is currently assisting more than 50,000 families housed in more that 200 temporary shelters all over the country. The six members of the Lopez family are among those beneficiaries receiving WFP food emergency rations.