Hurricane Eta, an unusually strong storm, made landfall in Nicaragua, causing potentially catastrophic flooding in one of the poorest regions of the country.
News of the storm started moving inland on Tuesday, ripping up roofs of houses and causing rivers to overflow. In Puerto Cabezas on the Atlantic coast, trees collapsed and power lines were cut off, leaving much of the city in darkness. About 10,000 people have stayed in shelters in the city and an equivalent number is in smaller towns in the area, according to city officials.
Carmen Enríquez, a Puerto Cabezas resident, told Reuters: “We were really scared, there were electric poles falling, there was flooding, the roof was torn, some of the zinc on my house was falling off.
Hurricane Eta quickly strengthened on Monday to become a Category four hurricane, with winds of up to 145mph, according to the US National Hurricane Center. According to the NHC, the storm can cause rainfall up to 3ft, causing “flash floods and catastrophic, life-threatening floods, along with landslides in areas with higher terrain of Central America”.
After defeating Nicaragua, Eta is expected to pass through Honduras, where it will weaken in the mountains before moving to Belize. The natives in the north just on the road of Eta are some of Nicaragua’s poorest. Many people nearby who live in fragile homes have little chance of coping with such a strong storm.
“This city of 70,000 people is very vulnerable. We have houses made of wood and bricks. The infrastructure of residential homes is our major flaw, ”Javier Plat, a Catholic priest in Puerto Cabezas, told Reuters.
Authorities in Nicaragua and Honduras have moved people from outer islands and low-lying areas to shelters. Residents scrambled to build houses, but very few structures along Nicaragua’s remote Caribbean coast were built to withstand such force.
The Nicaraguan army moved the red-hat army specialized in search and rescue to Puerto Cabezas. Along Honduras’s northern Caribbean coast, torrential rains from Eta’s outer bands caused several rivers to overflow on Monday, forcibly evacuating.
At a shelter in Puerto Cabezas, farmer Pedro Down waited for Eta to arrive late on Monday. “When it comes, it can rip it all apart [roof] and demolish the house, so you have to find a safer place, ”he said, holding a baby in his arms. “So I came here to save our lives.”
On Monday, Vice President Nicaragua and first lady, Rosario Murillo, prayed to God to protect the country. She said Nicaragua will apply lessons learned from the previous storms. “How many storms have come and we have moved on, thank God,” she said.
Eta is the 28th storm to be named during the Atlantic hurricane season, setting a record in 2005. It is also the fifth hurricane to hit a major storm status. The rapidly accelerating rates of some of these storms match the additional energy supplied to them by heating the air and oceans through human activity, climate scientists say. climate scientist said.
This may only be the beginning of Eta’s destruction. The hurricane is expected to move much in the past week to Central America.