Hurricane Iota kills at least 26 after devastating Central America and the Caribbean

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At least 26 dead and devastation left in Central America and the Caribbean by tropical storm Iota, which dissipated this Wednesday after attacking part of the region as a powerful hurricane, the second in two weeks.

Floods, mudslides and thousands of evacuees They occurred because of Iota in a fragile Central America, with soils saturated with water after the passage of Eta two weeks ago, which caused at least 144 deaths, 120 disappeared, three million people affected, thousands still in shelters, as well as destruction of infrastructure and crops.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the United States indicated that the remnants of Iota can produce, until Thursday, additional accumulations of rain of up to about 20 centimeters in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and southern Belize.

Military evacuate residents in the Nicaraguan town of Riva, during the floods caused by Hurricane Iota.
NICARAGUA ARMY / EFE

Iota came to Nicaragua Monday night as a Category 5 hurricane, the highest possible, and caused the death of 16 people, 4 missing and devastation in the Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACN), the same one in which Eta made landfall on November 3 as a category 4 hurricane, leaving three dead, according to the Nicaraguan Red Cross, which are not recognized by government.

Although the extent of Iota’s destruction is still unknown, the devastation is evident in cities such as Bilwi or in the community of Haulover, both in the remote RACN and whose inhabitants were just beginning to rise from the hard onslaught Eta.

The hurricane reached Honduras already degraded to tropical depression but its onslaught left at least 6 dead, floods and ravages in crops and infrastructure, thousands of victims and dozens of people waiting for a rescue.

Flooded streets and destroyed houses in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, after the passage of Tropical Storm Iota.
Flooded streets and destroyed houses in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, after the passage of Tropical Storm Iota.
JOSÉ VALLE / EFE

An aquatic rescue group has traveled to the sectors of Ciudad Planeta and Rivera Hernández, in northern Honduras, to “evacuate families” that were trapped on the roofs of their homes and at other high points due to flooding.

Losses in Honduras from damage caused by Eta, which left at least 74 dead, and Iota, could exceed 10 billion dollars, according to estimates by the non-governmental Social Forum of the External Debt of Honduras.

Aerial view of the city of Villanueva, in Honduras, flooded by the overflow of the Chamelecón River after the passage of Storm Iota.
Aerial view of the city of Villanueva, in Honduras, flooded by the overflow of the Chamelecón River after the passage of Storm Iota.
JOSÉ VALLE / EFE

Iota, who went into The Savior Before dissipating, it caused rains and winds in this country that caused the death of a person and forced the evacuation of 880 people.

In Panama, the rains associated with Iota left a dead person, At least one other disappeared, roadblocks and the eviction of some communities, especially in the west of the country, where Eta’s influence caused 19 deaths, 12 disappearances and material damage that the Government will face with an investment of more than 100 million dollars.

A destroyed street in San Andrés (Colombia), after the passage of Hurricane Iota.
A destroyed street in San Andrés (Colombia), after the passage of Hurricane Iota.
JUAN DAVID SUÁREZ CORPAS / EFE

Before reaching Central America, Hurricane Iota struck the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, in the Colombian Caribbean, where it caused at least 2 dead, one missing, several injured and thousands of victims.

The Government of Colombia declared this Wednesday the situation of disaster in the archipelago, where the destruction is almost on the island of Providencia.

Streamline aid

It is too early to specify the total cost of the destruction of the two hurricanes in Central America, but both governments and humanitarian agencies have asked to speed up aid for this region of about 50 million inhabitants, many of them poor, and one of the most vulnerable to the onslaught of the climate crisis.

The global NGO Oxfam Intermón has made an “urgent” appeal to the international community to “make effective” aid to Central America in the face of the disaster of still unknown magnitude due to the passage of two hurricanes that further aggravates the health and economic emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hurricanes are aggravating “the complicated situation of these countries, with economies already strangled by the pandemic,” said Oxfam, which also warned that overcrowding in shelters could trigger cases of the new coronavirus.

A man tries to cross a river flooded by Tropical Storm Iota, in the community of Redondo del Águila, Honduras.
A man tries to cross a river overflowed by Tropical Storm Iota, in the community of Redondo del Águila, Honduras.
GUSTAVO AMADOR / EFE

The International Red Cross for its part warned that the death and destruction caused by Eta and Iota in Central America show that the climate disaster risk financing “It is not assigned where it is most needed.”

He also stressed that the Central American countries are suffering the impact of three crises: extreme weather, mass migration caused by economic instability and violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi, proposed this week “a joint plan of action” for reconstruction of areas devastated by inclement weather.

“We have emergency aid and we can coordinate with other donors and countries that are friends of CABEI,” added Mossi.

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