Last week, a major hurricane slammed into the northeast corner of Nicaragua. The Bilwi (or Puerto Cabezas) region is the most remote, least developed population center in the country, where a large percentage of people live alongside rivers, swamps, or the Caribbean, all of which were whipped into a fury when an 18-foot storm surge struck the coast amid 160-mph winds. Now incessant rains are raising the rivers and threatening new damage. As the daily body counts continue to rise, a few other numbers are being thrown around: “17,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged,” President Ortega said, and an estimated 50,000 people have lost everything they owned.
On the positive side, here is a report from a friend in Bluefields, just down the coast from ground zero:
“There has been an outpouring of financial and material support to the government and to the Red Cross, people bringing rice, beans, zinc, sugar, and making small little donations that are really adding up. It is so heartwarming and so inspiring to me because it really proves that if we all work together, each one even doing his/her very small part, we can make it through and progress. In fact it reminds me of a Nicaraguan saying which is that all you have to do is contribute your small grain of sand.”
I was struck by the same response, nine years ago when I was trapped in Managua during Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest storm in history to hit Central America. People with virtually nothing were contributing to the effort; a real feeling of national solidarity. But that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, here’s
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