QCOSTARICA – Central American countries prepared for a new hurricane on Saturday, days after Hurrican Eta, dissipating to a tropical storm, killed more than 200 people in the region.
Tropical storm Iota was in the Caribbean on Saturday, moving slowly towards Central America, which could begin to feel its effects as of this Sunday.
“Until Thursday, heavy rains from Iota could cause flash floods and flooding of rivers that threaten life in portions of northern Colombia and Central America,” warned this Saturday the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The NHC added that “floods and landslides in Honduras and Nicaragua could be exacerbated by the recent effects of Eta, resulting in significant impacts.”
Honduran authorities began to evacuate thousands of residents from the Sula Valley, in the surroundings of San Pedro Sula, 180 km north of the capital, the area hardest hit by Eta.
At the same time, the government ordered the discharge of water from the main hydroelectric dam in Honduras due to the danger of it overflowing with the rains in Iota and flooding San Pedro Sula and neighboring towns.
If it maintains its course, the new cyclone will make landfall near Cabo Gracias a Dios, between Honduras and Nicaragua, just like Eta, which sowed death and destruction from Guatemala to Panama.
“We are preparing for different scenarios. Floods, rains, high tides, winds and landslides on saturated soils are expected”, warned the director of the National System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention of Disasters (Sinapred) of Nicaragua, Guillermo González.
“Some 80,000 families are going to be at risk” in Nicaragua, according to the first estimates, he added.
Authorities began evacuating areas of Cabo Gracias a Dios and the Coco River communities on Friday, and Saturday they continued with the inhabitants of the Caribbean Sea coast and the Miskitos Cays.
After the passage of Eta, the evacuees were given shelter in the cities of Waspam, Prinzapolka and Bilwi, in Nicaragua’s North Caribbean, and conditions are now being prepared to receive those displaced by Iota, González said.
Eta caused floods and mudslides that affected 2.5 million people and left more than 200 dead, according to Central American civil protection organizations.
In Guatemala, which registered more than a hundred deaths from Eta, President Alejandro Giammattei said this Saturday that the country will have greater rains in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Petén (north), Izabal (northeast), Quiché , Huehuetenango (west) and Zacapa (east), already hit by Eta.
The Guatemalan president asked the population to avoid going to those provinces during the rainiest due to possible landslides and collapses on the roads.
Climate change produces an increase in temperature in the surface layers of the oceans, which generates more powerful hurricanes and storms and with greater amount of water, constituting a more dangerous threat for coastal communities, according to studies of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on the Climate Change (IPCC).