Scenes of flooding, devastation lie in wake of monstrous Hurricane Iota

Eta slammed the Nicaraguan coast on Nov. 3 with winds in its eyewall of 140 mph, striking just south of the community of Puerto Cabezas. Ten thousand people sought shelter as the system’s winds lashed the area. On Nov. 15, Hurricane Iota reached Category 5 status off the shore of Central America, making landfall as a Category 4 near Haulover, Nicaragua.

Both storms moved inland for several days, Eta eventually curving north while Iota breezed due west. That meant places like Honduras endured a torrential 20-to-30-inch rainfall twice. Some places saw a year’s worth of rainfall in two weeks’ time.

When Hurricane Iota approached Nicaragua early in the week, its outer eyewall carved through Providencia Island, Colombia, about 150 miles offshore of Nicaragua. Winds there probably gusted between 90 and 120 mph, leaving 98 percent to 99 percent of the island destroyed. Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez toured the damage on Tuesday morning, emphasizing the need to evacuate the injured and begin emergency response.

Márquez said that the government is mobilizing hygiene kits, tents, field hospitals, doctors and nurses and other necessities to the afflicted area, according to the Colombian news organization El Tiempo. The Colombian Chamber of Cement and Concrete vowed to donate 100 tons of cement to aid in reconstruction efforts, El Tiempo reported.

The president aims to have debris cleared and restore critical services during the next week, according to Infobae, a news website from Argentina.

In Nicaragua, at least a dozen people perished in a landslide in Macizo Peñas Blancas, part of the Matagalpa state in west central Nicaragua. Today Nicaragua news site reported that the government had proposed to relocate families years ago, knowing they were in a risk zone.

Rosario Murillo, the vice president of the nation and wife of Nicaraguan President , expressed disdain that the victims had not heeded the advice of local officials when asked to evacuate, Today Nicaragua reported.

In Honduras, some roadways were washed out, covered in mud or otherwise impassible to vehicles, according to La Tribuna, a Honduran newspaper. Highway CA-11 was inaccessible in Tierra Fría, Copán, the roadway having collapsed.

Meanwhile, Honduras’s main transportation lifeline to the outside world, Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport, will remain closed until mid-December after being inundated by floodwaters. Officials said that the passenger terminal had severe damage and would take more than a month to repair.

Flights were being canceled and rerouted to other airports across Honduras.

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