On November 3rd, 2020, Hurricane Eta, a category 4 hurricane, struck Nicaragua’s shore with torrential rainfall, causing widespread flooding and destructive landslides. Hurricane Eta had winds reaching speeds of 140 mph; the National Hurricane Center called it a “life-threatening storm surge.”
More than 30,000 people were evacuated on Monday, November 2nd, with at least 17 shelters opened in Puerto Cabezas to protect those fleeing the storm. The majority of people affected in the region were Miskito, whose houses are constructed of fragile wooden structures and metal roofs, in communities built near the rivers. Puerto Cabezas was one of the cities to receive the most extreme winds in the country (Cappucci, 2020).
Due to the extreme flooding, remote communities were left completely isolated. The municipalities of Bilwi and Waspam were left secluded due to flooding of the Wawa River. While other communities, some as far as 100 miles inland, were entirely uninformed of the Hurricane’s arrival until they found themselves in the middle of the storm. Rescue missions were sent out to help affected communities.
On Tuesday, November 3rd, two gold miners were killed in a landslide. A third miner escaped and sought help. The place was located 160 km west of where Eta made landfall (Tropical storm Eta kills, 2020). It has been reported that at least four people died in storm-related casualties.
Now that the Hurricane has passed, the main concern lies in delivering food and water to the remote communities affected, according to the country’s Catholic Relief Services.
After striking Nicaragua, Hurricane Eta degenerated into a tropical storm with 35 mph winds. However, the destruction didn’t cease, as the storm then drifted into Honduras. The neighboring country suffered from heavy rainfall and mudslides.
Honduras’ government reported a casualty of a 12-year-old girl who died in a landslide in San Pedro Sula. Around 560 people evacuated the area and moved to shelters due to flooding, and 25 others were rescued. The significant flooding caused more than $5 billion in damages.
The hurricane then struck Guatemala, causing significant damages. In the village of San Cristobal, Eta wreaked havoc with huge landslides that left mud 50 feet deep. As a result, dozens of people went missing.
As the storm continued its trajectory, it reached the U.S. south, releasing heavy rains upon Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
More than 3.6 million people in Central America were affected, an estimated 178 killed, and thousands left without a home. Hurricane Eta became the fifth major storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Currently, Nicaragua is expecting another storm, Hurricane Iota, a massive category 5 hurricane, as it approaches the country’s northeastern coast with winds reaching 155 mph, according to Miami’s National Hurricane Center.
Cappucci, M. (2020, November 4). Hurricane Eta brings disastrous flooding to Central America, with concern growing in southeastern U.S. The Washington Post; The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/11/04/hurricane-eta-nicaragua-florida/
Rivers, M. (2020, November 12). Dozens killed, thousands displaced in Central America. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/12/americas/hurricane-eta-guatemala-honduras-intl/index.html
Tropical storm Eta kills 4 as it pummels Nicaragua, Honduras. (2020, November 4). CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/hurricane-eta-nicaragua-rains-mudslides-1.5789155
Tropical Storm Eta Left at Least 3 Dead in Central America. (2020, November 4). The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/world/americas/Eta-hurricane-nicaragua.html