By Associated Press
Panama reported that one person was killed and another missing in its western indigenous autonomous Ngabe Bugle area near the border with Costa Rica.
As the storm moved westward, flooding became a top concern. The Tola River topped its banks, and western Nicaragua, along the Pacific coast, was forecast to receive the most rain. Nicaragua’s meteorology director, Marcio Baca, said areas where the soil was already saturated would receive 6 to 7 inches of additional rain.
Eta triggered flash floods and mudslides in parts of Central America and Mexico and killed more than 130 people.
“This hurricane is definitely worse” than Eta, Jason Bermúdez, a university student from Bilwi, said as high winds preceded Iota’s arrival. Many houses lost roofs, fences and fruit trees.
“We will never forget this year,” Bermúdez said.
Even before Iota hit Nicaragua, it scraped over the tiny Colombian island of Providencia, more than 155 miles off Nicaragua’s coast. Colombian President Ivan Duque said one person was killed and 98% of the island’s infrastructure was “affected.”
Providencia is inhabited almost exclusively by the descendants of African slaves and British colonizers, who speak an English version of Creole as their native language. The island has no direct flights to the continent, but it has become an increasingly popular tourist destination thanks to its quiet beaches and rich marine life. On Tuesday, Colombian officials said they were sending a ship with 15 tons of aid to the island.
In the aftermath of Eta, tens of thousands of Hondurans were homeless. The country reported 74 deaths and nearly 57,000 people in shelters, mostly in the north.
One of the hardest hit areas was La Lima, a San Pedro Sula suburb that flooded when the Chamelecon river topped its banks. Many people whose homes flooded moved to shelters or stayed with relatives. Some stayed behind in an attempt to protect what few possessions remained. Authorities tried to force most of them to move to shelters ahead of Iota’s arrival.
On Monday, Wendy Guadalupe Contreras Paz, 34, was living under a tarp with her four children and seven other relatives along a main boulevard in La Lima.
“I lost everything, I couldn’t take anything,” Contreras said. “But my mom and my grandmother have some things, and that’s why we’re living here, to be closer to the house and keep them from stealing the few little things they have left.”
Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year’s historically busy Atlantic hurricane season. It’s also the ninth storm to rapidly intensify this season, a dangerous phenomenon that is happening more often. Such activity has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say causes wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.
Iota developed later in the season than any other Category 5 storm on record, beating a Nov. 8, 1932, Cuba hurricane, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
The hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30.