A strong tropical storm Eta cut through Cuba on Sunday and hit the tip of Florida, where officials prepare for a storm that could hit the storm force after leaving more people dead and more than 100 missing in Mexico and Central America.
The US National Hurricane Center in Miami has declared hurricane and storm warnings for posts from Ocean Reef to Dry Tortugas, including the Florida Bay, with the storm expected to reach that area on Sunday night. or early Monday.
Florida officials closed Covid beaches, ports and test sites, closed public transport, and urged residents to get out of the way. A number of shelters have also opened in Miami and Florida Keys for residents living in mobile homes and low-lying areas.
Broward County also closes schools directly on Monday and Miami appears ready to do the same.
The Eta has a maximum wind power of 65 mph on Sunday afternoon and it has made Cuba̵7;s northern center, about 115 miles (185 km) southeast of Marathon, Florida, and about 140 miles (225 km) south. southeast of Miami. It is moving in the northwest direction at 14 mph (22 km / h).
The storm flooded rivers and inundated coastal areas in Cuba, where 25,000 people were evacuated. But there is no report of death.
Eta attacked Cuba even as searchers in Guatemala were still digging for people believed to be buried by a massive landslide caused by rain. Authorities on Sunday raised the number of known deaths there to 27 from 15 and said more than 100 were missing in Guatemala, many of them in the San Cristobal Verapaz landslide.
About 60,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala.
At least 20 people were also reported dead in southern Mexico and local officials in Honduras said 21 people, although the national disaster agency confirmed only 8 people.
On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke of the population of Central America, which was hit by “a violent storm, which caused many victims and great damage, also made worse by the capital situation. has been difficult due to the pandemic ”. Speaking to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis prayed that “God welcomes the dead, comforts their families and sustains all those who have tried, as well as all people are doing their best to help them ”.
In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday for the last eight counties in the state as Eta approached, calling on residents to stock up on supplies.
Miami-Dade County declared a state of emergency on Friday night and also warned a flood monitoring regime would go into effect until Tuesday night.
Farther south of the posts, officials are watching the storm closely, but have yet to plan to evacuate tourists or residents. They urge residents to ensure the safety of their boats and encourage visitors to review the plan for changes until Eta passes.
Initially, Eta hit Nicaragua like a Category 4 hurricane, and authorities from Panama to Mexico are still investigating the damage following torrential rainy days during the week.