When Hurricane Stan hit, hundreds died in Guatemala and southern Mexico, and hundreds more were missing and feared dead in a wave of mudslides that left entire villages buried in mud.
Our staff and volunteers were on hand to assist the Guatemalan government with aid distribution to severely hit areas. Due to incidents of random violence, our teams had to have army protection to travel into affected areas, as desperate people were raiding many aid convoys.
To add to the situation, when the hurricane first hit, a large part of our staff were stranded in Southern Mexico, which also took quite a beating. The good news was they were already on hand to help there, and thus did not return to Guatemala City for a month.
And even when they did return to base, there was still not a clear land passage through northern Guatemala and southern Mexico, just temporarily constructed bridges. Over 100 bridges in Mexico and 31 in Guatemala had been washed away.
Lightening had also struck our Casa de Corazones base and knocked out Internet and telephone connections, and power surges later damaged office computers. Gasoline was limited and thus rationed for travel. Despite these challenges, we were able to be a strength and help to others in this time of crisis.