Our lives typically aren’t impacted much by hurricane season down here in New Paltz. By impacted, I mean that except for rare occasions during the months of June through November, we don’t need to actively worry about a hurricane ripping through our towns leaving us homeless and hungry.
With that being said, there are other ways to feel impacted by the devastation of a hurricane even without being there yourself. Take fourth-year forward for the New Paltz men’s soccer team, Carlos Cueller, for example. When Cueller saw the damage hurricanes Eta and Iota caused to his hometown Santiago Pimienta in Honduras, he knew he wanted to help.
There are five categories of hurricanes, with category five being the worst. Hurricane Eta was a category four hurricane lasting from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14 and Hurricane Iota was a category five hurricane lasting from Nov. 13 to Nov. 18. According to BBC news, more than 200 people died across the Central America region with 94 of them being from Honduras.
“No country has been hit harder than Honduras, where at least 3.7 million people, or more than a third of the population, have been affected,” according to The Washington Post.
After seeing the destruction and hearing the devastation, Cueller called for help from the New Paltz campus community. From Wednesday, Nov. 18 to Friday, Nov. 20, Cueller asked for donations of shoes, clothes and basic necessities to be left outside of the Athletic & Wellness Center in a bin. He planned to ship the donations back to his hometown to help those in need.
“Days after Hurricane Eta I saw pictures of my town underwater, but what really motivated me was when I saw my old school flooded, almost underwater,” Cueller said. “I immediately thought about children that might have lost everything they had and that’s what made me want to give a hand by doing the hurricane relief effort.”
Cueller said initially the school was not involved in his hurricane relief efforts, but a few of his fellow student athletes encouraged him to tell his coach about what he was doing. After his coach was involved, he gained approval from the school to launch hurricane relief efforts through the College and the bins were set up at the AWC.
Cueller got a list of names of those who helped contribute and about 60 people helped him reach his goal. Collectively he filled 30 boxes of food, clothes and essentials. Cueller said he is still receiving emails from people asking how they can help.
He shipped his donations to a collection center in Virginia where a container is being filled to ship to Honduras. All donations are going to Santiago Pimienta, Cueller’s hometown.
A tragic story about a natural disaster has a bittersweet ending. Cueller and everyone who helped his cause go into motion has certainly made a difference on someone in desperate need.
“I’d like to thank my coach Kyle Clancy, [Athletic Communications Director] Monica D’lppolito [and interim Athletic Director and head women’s volleyball coach] Matt Giufre for helping me set everything up,” Cueller said. “And I can’t forget to say thank you to all the people who donated. Without them, I couldn’t have done it.”