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USAID deployed an elite Disaster Assistance Response Team on November 17 to lead the U.S. response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Photo credit: USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance

On November 16, Hurricane Iota made landfall as a category 5 storm with sustained winds of nearly 155 mph. This comes just two weeks after Hurricane Eta brought heavy rains, severe flooding, and landslides to many of the same areas. An estimated 4.9 million people were affected by Hurricane Eta alone and more than 260,000 people across Latin America have sought the safety of evacuation shelters.

Here are four ways USAID is helping communities affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota:

1. Deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team


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USAID is responding to Tropical Storm Eta which caused severe flooding and landslides in Central America after it made landfall on November 3. Photo credit: Johan ORDONEZ / AFP

On November 3, Eta — the 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season — made landfall in Central America, unleashing heavy winds, rain, and severe flooding and landslides across the region. Thousands of people have been evacuated, and tens of thousands have been affected by the devastation.

Here are three ways we are responding to help communities across Central America affected by Tropical Storm Eta:

1. Activating disaster specialists across Central America


After the 2010 Haiti earthquake struck, not only did USAID help put a roof over the heads of people affected, we also worked with communities to build a new, more durable vision for their neighborhoods to withstand future disasters.

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After the 2010 Haiti earthquake devastated the Ravine Pintade neighborhood near Port-au-Prince, USAID worked with partners to use community input to meet immediate humanitarian needs and help locals recover. Photo credit: Project Concern International

The word home conjures all sorts of meaning: family, friends, warmth, comfort. We think that the word shelter should mean more, too. After a disaster hits, shelter is typically identified as an immediate humanitarian need. But to us, shelter is more than four walls and a roof.

For years, USAID has worked with people affected by disasters to help them through the immediate aftermath. However, USAID also helps neighborhoods and larger settlements think of their future and partners with communities to work through longer-term issues and find better ways to integrate other types of assistance — such as water, sanitation, health, and protection — so that these settlements can be better and stronger than they were before. We call this a “neighborhood approach.” On World Cities Day, we celebrate how this approach helped a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti build back safer. …


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With its networks of rivers, canals, extensive flood plains and small islands, large areas of Bangladesh are flooded each year. Building tall mounds of earth — called plinths — has proven to be an effective community response to protecting lives and livelihoods. Photo credit: CARE

Most of us will experience a devastating torrent once in our lifetime, or at worst only once a decade. But the odds are much greater in Bangladesh, where almost every year floods, cyclones, and landslides put vulnerable people at risk and force tens of thousands of people to flee to safety. This year was no exception, as historic floods covered over 40 percent of the country.

How do people cope when houses, livestock, and livelihoods are relentlessly and tragically swept away?


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In Sudan, a young boy sits in flood waters. Photo credit: UNICEF Sudan

Unusually heavy rains have pounded Sudan in recent weeks, resulting in widespread flooding that has killed more than 100 people, forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, and affected more than 800,000 people across the country.

The waters of the mighty Nile — so famous for its seasonal flooding — swelled to the highest level in decades, washing out homes and neighborhoods. Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum, was especially hit hard.

Satellite images of Khartoum from September 23, 2016 and September 2, 2020 show the Nile and its tributaries flooding surrounding areas. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

As images of flooded homes and children wading down city streets knee-deep in water hit the headlines, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance sprang into action. …


This World Humanitarian Day, we recognize the real-life heroes who are overcoming Herculean challenges to save lives and help those in need.

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USAID is working with partners in 50 countries to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Photos courtesy: Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, ACTED, International Medical Corps, Malteser International, and Action Against Hunger

August 19 marks World Humanitarian Day, a time to honor the brave women and men who risk everything to help others.

Never has the generosity, courage, and sacrifice of aid workers been more evident — or more needed — than it is today. On top of the millions of people who are in need of humanitarian aid due to conflicts or natural disasters, the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States is leading the global response efforts to this unprecedented outbreak, providing more than $1.6 billion in health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance in more than 120 countries. Of this, $558 million is for USAID’s humanitarian assistance programs, carried out by hundreds of real-life heroes working for our partners on the ground. …


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The USAID DART supported assessments of local hospitals to evaluate damage, operational status, and patient needs. Photo Credit: Mike Zeltakalns, U.S. Embassy Beirut

On August 4, 2020, catastrophic explosions rocked Beirut, Lebanon, killing at least 170 people, injuring thousands more, and causing widespread damage in Lebanon’s capital city.


Over the last year and a half, USAID Health Advisors Dr. Jolene Nakao, Sonia Walia, and Kathleen Myer deployed 11 times to the DRC and spent months working on our Response Management Team in Washington, D.C. Working alongside our UN and NGO partners, their technical expertise and guidance helped bring an end to the outbreak. Today, they weigh in on some of the challenges they faced and lessons learned from the response.

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USAID Health Advisors Dr. Jolene Nakao, Sonia Walia, and Kathleen Myer each spent much of the last year and a half on USAID’s DRC Ebola response, providing technical guidance and working with UN and NGO partners. Photo credits: USAID

Q: What in particular made this response so challenging?

Dr. Jolene Nakao: This response was challenging in many different ways. Linguistically, there were multiple language barriers. Geographically, our teams had limited ability to travel to the areas that were hit hardest by the outbreak because of the ongoing violence that has plagued these communities for decades. There were also cultural barriers, as well as complicated dynamics between the communities in the affected regions and the Government of the DRC.


By Trey Hicks, Assistant to the Administrator, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance

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This is an exciting time for USAID — and personally for me. I have been at the helm of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace for the past two years and have experienced firsthand how U.S. humanitarian assistance is making a difference around the world. I worked alongside the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and together, we responded to 66 disasters in 57 countries last year, saving tens of millions of lives.

Our combined legacy — nearly 66 years in responding to hunger emergencies and 56 years of leading the U.S. …


Cuando los huracanes se aproximan a las comunidades, el primer instinto de muchas personas es protegerse de los fuertes vientos que amenazan con arrasar las casas y partir los árboles por la mitad. Pero, de hecho, las marejadas de tormenta — o las aguas crecientes creadas por la tormenta — representan una amenaza mucho más peligrosa y mortal.

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Después de que un puente fuera arrastrado por las fuertes lluvias y vientos del huracán Matthew en octubre de 2016, personas en Haití cruzan el río inundado con la ayuda de una cuerda. Fotografía: Logan Abassi ONU/MINUSTAH

¿Qué es una marejada ciclónica?

En septiembre de 2019, el huracán Dorian tocó tierra en las Bahamas como categoría 5, lo que lo convirtió en el huracán más fuerte de la historia actual que ha azotado a la nación insular, y en solamente el quinto huracán del Atlántico del que se tiene constancia que haya alcanzado tal intensidad. La tormenta destruyó la infraestructura local afectandoa a más de 76.000 personas.

A pesar de que los vientos de más de 180 millas por hora causaron daños, fue la marejada , o la crecida de las aguas con elevaron de más de 20 pies sobre el nivel del mar que devastó la mayoría de las comunidades. ¡Esto equivale a llegar a la parte alta de una casa de dos pisos! El huracán Irma en 2017 también provocó devastadoras mareas de tempestad en el Caribe, llegando a unos ocho pies sobre el nivel medio del mar en Antigua y Barbuda y hasta 20 pies en Cuba. …

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USAID Saves Lives

USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance saves lives on behalf of the American people. http://www.usaid.gov/privacy-policy

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