June 13, 2008

Remembering Hurricane Fifi

The following article is a guest blog from "Deena." Deena is a Hondureña who was born in Potrerillos, Cortés, Honduras. When the banana business started to go bad for her father, they moved and she grew up in the San Pedro Sula area with her six brothers and four sisters.

Deena left Honduras in 1989 and settled near Los Angeles, California. She has a 3 year old son. She says that she came to the states like many do with no papers, but was able to get a permit as a political asylee. Deena says that La Gringa's Blogicito is the closest she can get to Honduras, because she can only go if a family emergency arises. Two years ago her brother died and Deena visited Honduras for 9 days.

FiFi was a catastrophic hurricane which struck Honduras on Sept 18-19, 1974. Whole villages were swept away in landslides. Official estimates were that 8,000 people died. The majority of the country's banana crops were destroyed and approximately 40% of Honduras' cattle were drowned. One source states that Hurricane Fifi is considered the fourth deadliest hurricane in history.

North coast of Honduras, showing the areas mentioned in this article

I love rain, which used to be the soothing sound of my every day naps as a kid. Rainy days in Honduras are an inconvenience for others. It rains for days at a time and then it stops like nothing happened.

Back then, in the seventies, San Pedro Sula was just a small city. La Avenida Juan Pablo II did not existed the way we know it now, and all the colonias that were located down the avenida were not paved. When the rainy season was at its best, the streets would get flooded. For us kids, those were fun times to play in the water and the worse times to go to school. We had to carry our shoes (if you had any) and put them on when we got to school.

When Hurricane Fifi was announced, people just shrugged. As you readers know, Hondurans do not prepare for anything and the government can't care less. The reason is that there is nothing to prepare for, most Hondurans live day by day and payday to payday. So it rained for days and when the storm finally hit San Pedro, we woke up to a bare montaña Del Merendon.

The news had reported over the day that many people were homeless among other things, and that the city of Choloma had been wiped out. For weeks to come the topic of Choloma buried by mud populated the newspapers. People were not allowed to go past a certain point and rescue teams, merely volunteers, would go and dig in search of bodies. People talk about how a big hole was dug up and as the bodies were found they were piled up in this hole. The local authorities were afraid of an epidemic, so bodies were lit on fire. Only in Honduras you might think, and I will say yep!

To date things have not changed. As to the help Honduras got, you guessed it: it all went to the “corruptos”: Los militares, government officials, and the people with connections. That anyone got something, sure, if you bought it later in the flea market. I remember getting one shoe from the pair because things were thrown from the air by a helicopter. What happened to the other one, the world may never know.

There was a huge food shortage; my mom would take us with her in search of bananas. We used to walk all the way to la Lima, behind the airport of San Pedro sometimes we were lucky and others we came home with nothing. Many times we went to sleep with nothing in our stomachs and countless times we did not make it to school for the same reason.

That was then, now when I hear about catastrophes happening somewhere in the world I would rather give to the Red Cross. My reason is that someone, somewhere, will at least get an aspirin, a band aid or even a hug from one of these dedicated workers.

Thank you so much, Deena, for sharing this story with the Blogicito readers. I think that readers will enjoy reading more about the life of Catrachas and Catrachos if any of you Hondurans would like to share more stories!

If you would like to submit
a guest blog article, it will be greatly appreciated by me and my two bum fingers. Send it to me at my email address in the "About me" section at the top of the page. Photos are welcomed, too. Don't worry about formatting or spelling. You can send it as a text file or just include the text in your email.

Newer posts Older posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...