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Perspective view of Hurricane Mitch on Oct. 26, 1998 (image one) and Hurricane Mitch approaching Honduras on Oct. 26, 1998 (image two)



Hurricane Mitch was one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. At the time of the disaster, Mitch was the strongest Atlantic hurricane recorded in the month of October. Hurricane Mitch also became the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. Now you can imagine the impact this hurricane had. The intense hurricane was formed in the Western Caribbean Sea on the 22nd of October. Mitch drifted through conditions that quickly strengthened the hurricane to a category 5 status, which is the highest possible rating given to a hurricane. The hurricane continued in the SW direction, hitting Honduras, but fortunately was much weaker. Hurricane Mitch finally ceased in Florida where it became categorized as a powerful tropical storm.

On October 22nd through November 4th, 1998 Hurricane Mitch hit Central America. Hurricane Mitch affected many countries in Central America but Honduras and Nicaragua were the ones affected the most. Based on the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) there were 11,000 people killed by Mitch with thousands of people missing and more than five billion dollars in damage. This hurricane was a category five storm which Central America. In Honduras hurricane Mitch lasted for more than 24 hours with winds of about 180 miles per hour. As the storm slowed down and headed toward inland, hurricane Mitch still hit Honduras with heavy rains and created mudslides and floods based on USA today. Based on the U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S) hurricane Mitch produced torrential rain which reached about 4 inches per hour as described on the article. The rain caused many mudslides and floods all over Honduras which led to the destruction and caused 1.4 million people to be homeless.
Central America before Hurricane Mitch was described in the Oxfam International Briefing Paper states, “Prior to Hurricane Mitch, the countries of Central America were already among the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. In 1997, 2.6 million Hondurans and 2.1 million Nicaraguans lived below the poverty line. This represented 50% and 47% of the countries’ respective populations. In Guatemala, 53% of the population lives on less than $1 per day.” Hurricane Mitch had a drastic change in the economy of these countries and made the losses even greater because most of the victims of Hurricane Mitch lost everything they once had. The countries which Hurricane Mitch hit are the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere as described in Oxfam International Briefing Paper. The victims of Hurricane Mitch lost their homes, their crops, their land, and most important their families.
The aftermath of hurricane Mitch is still visible today. There was significant damage that was done in the agriculture in Honduras, based on the Foreign Agriculture Service there were more than 150,000 crops that were lost due to the hurricane. Many of the produce were lost because of the mudslides and the floods which occurred and the changes of the flows in the Aguan River. This affected the crops because the water was harder to reach to the crops. These were some of the damages that were reported which affected the crops and productivity of Honduras as well in El Salvador and Nicaragua. In the other hand there were thousands of homes that were lost because of the rains and the floods which needed to be rebuilt for those families in need.
The impact that Hurricane Mitch had in Central America was very catastrophic. The memories and destruction that were behind by this category five storm was in the billions and the deaths were in the thousands. Hurricane Mitch affected all Central America and demonstrated that nature is a powerful being which can not be stopped and can take everything along its way. Hurricane Mitch it is a mark that has left on many people affected by this hurricane and still after ten years people remember this catastrophic event as if were like yester based on USA Today. Hurricane Mitch will always be part of the biggest hit in the Western Hemisphere, which created destruction and deaths along the way.
Hurricane Mitch left a lot of victims along its way but the most affected by the Hurricane were the children. In the article, “The Street Children of Mitch” by U.S.A. Latino there are interviews that were done a year after the tragic event. The article consists of three interviewees which talk about their experiences ever since hurricane Mitch. Mitch has become one of the major factors which have made the population of street children grow rapidly. One of the interviewee’s named Marvin he is from the capital of Honduras but he came to Guatemala because he is there to help his family. Marvin talks about how hard this has been to his family because they have lost everything of “value” as Marvin states. He talks about were he lives in a cardboard box which was stolen recently by another “street kid” as he says. Marvin is one of thousands of cases which has left homeless by hurricane Mitch.
Street children from Honduras and Guatemala are found everywhere without their families and any adult supervision. As stated in “In an effort to escape hardship, children leave what served as home and walk, hitchhike, or hop trains in the unrealistic hope of reaching the United States. Most of them make it only to Guatemala, ending up in situations as poor as those they left. Far fewer may reach Mexico, and fewer still may get to the United States and Canada,” according to Bruce Harris of Casa Alianza in Population Reference Bureau. The street children of Mitch also received help from the Casa Alianza which a Covenant House that provides food, shelter, and other services to homeless children in Mexico and Central America. Many of the children lose their lives along the destination which they want to reach since they are not well fed and they do not have any form of support on their journey.
Hurricane Mitch has also split many families apart. Not only have there been a lot of deaths but many of the parents have to ask for help to other families members and have no other choice but to leave the children behind since they can not afford to take them along. In efforts for their families to find a place to live these children are willing to go into the streets. The street children population has increased as stated by Bruce Harris “The growing population of street children throughout Latin America, the population has grown to about over forty million homeless children.” Hurricane Mitch was a great devastating natural disaster which destroyed almost everything along its way. Hurricane Mitch changed the lives of many people and destroyed a lot of families by leaving them hurt or homeless. Hurricane Mitch was a great tragedy which left a scar in the Western Hemisphere that will never be heal, nor forgotten.


In addition to homelessness, the children of countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch also suffer from malnutrition. According to Makiko Omitsu and Takashi Yamano who have done research in children's health in Nicaragua, nearly 50% percent of the bean crop was detroyed resulting in malnutrition or all Nicaraguans. Young children, however, were the most greatly affected. This was a result of the fact that younger children (0-2.5 years old) require more nutrients for their body weight compared to older children or adults. This lack of food has created growth stunting of this age group. Makiko Omitsu and Takashi Yamano believe that this lack of growth early in life will have a negative effect on the children's future health, education and well being creating further economic hardship for the country of Nicaragua.

Despite this, five years after Mitch hit, there have been relief efforts put in place. UNICEF has contributed to the disaster relief by helping to rebuild parts of the town miles away from the shore, they have also donated supplies to classrooms and their ultimate goal is to make sure that future generations are more secure if a disaster should happen again. The Plan organization has also contributed to the relief of the areas affected by Hurricane Mitch. Their efforts were focused on the psychological effects that the children faced after the hurricane. The organization is doing everything they can think of to make the children become part of the community and relieve them of any stress or anxiety about the event. Plan's way of doing this is to have the children be part of the rebuilding process so they don't feel isolated but instead feel like they are one with their friends and family. Plan also wants to make sure that the children have their own rooms to avoid abuse, a good education and "take account of the special needs and vulnerabilities of children, and also of their special capacities to be independent strong survivors capable of producing useful knowledge and actively contributing to disaster relief, recovery and preparedness efforts" in order to make sure that they have a bright future. Even though Hurricane Mitch did cause a substantial amount of destruction and devastation, help is on the way to make sure that if another hurricane should hit, the consequences will not be quite as traumatic.


References:
National Climate Data Center
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/reports/mitch/mitch.html
USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/huricane/1998/wmitch.htm
U.S. Geological Survey
http://landslides.usgs.gov/research/other/hurricanemitch/
Oxfam International Briefing Paper
www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/downloads/CENTRALA.rtf
Foreign Agriculture Service
http://www.fas.usda.gov/pecad2/highlights/99-04/mitch2.pdf
Population Reference Bureau
http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/MigrantStreetChildrenontheRiseinCentralAmerica.aspx
The Street Children of Mitch by U.S.A Latino
http://www.latinousa.org/mitch/streetchildren.html

UNICEF: Bringing relief to flooded Honduras

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49i1xm4A1Bg
Children in Disasters: 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Mitch
http://www.plan-international.org/wherewework/americas/honduras/ourwork/livelihood/mitch/

Contribution:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/277373/Hurricane-Mitch