Hurricane Mitch Article Part 2

Homework A: This is the second part of the article on Hurricane Mitch (from USA Today On-line).Do NOT use a dictionary. Use context clues to write a definition or synonym for each of the bold faced words.

The first official reports from northwestern Nicaragua the night of Oct. 31 were almost too fantastic to believe: several thousands were buried when a mammoth mudslide plunged down the side of the Casitas volcano.

"It is like a desert littered with buried bodies," said Felicita Zeledon, mayor of Posoltega, about 20 miles south of the mudslide area.

The mayor's reports were not confirmed until the next day, when the skies cleared and military helicopters could fly over. In subsequent days, rescue workers pulled hundreds upon hundreds of mud-caked corpses from the muck.

Many bodies were buried where they lay because of concerns about disease. Others were burned.

After the Saopin Bridge across the Cangrejal River was crushed, cutting the town of La Ceiba in two, families were separated. Those living on the east side couldn't get to the grocery stores or pharmacies on the west side.

The solution: a steel cable stretching across the span.

Locals suspended a metal basket from the cable, creating "the basket passage" - part thrill ride, part lifeline.

Volunteers used ropes to pull the basket, with five or six passengers aboard, across the 65-foot gap in the bridge. About 100 passengers crossed every hour, 13 hours a day.

Some passengers covered their eyes while the basket, just 3 feet wide, 3 feet long and 3 feet deep, swayed above the river.

Amid the smoke flowing from their newly erected lean-tos, about 500 people left homeless in El Salvador started reconstructing their lives after everything they owned was snatched away by surging floodwaters.

"We got out with our children as we could," when the Lempa River overflowed, said Francisca Iraheta. "And were helped by some horses that appeared from nowhere."

"Few people died, but a lot of animals were lost," said her husband, Santos. "And our agricultural crops are destroyed."

    Section Translation

  • Mammoth: very big
  • Corpses: dead bodies
  • A steel cable: a metal rope
  • Newly erected lean-tos: newly built shelters, each with a roof and one wall.

Hurricane Mitch: Reading Assignment from USA Today On-line

Here is a list of bold faced words from Homework A. For each word, write a definition or synonym and a brief description of the clues that help you understand the word.

Bold-faced Word

Definition or Synonym

Clues that Helped


the muck

the span






Go to Hurricane Mitch Article Part 3

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