Climate ‘bomb’ Iota weakens slightly off Central America
Article content continued
The Miskito region straddling Honduras and Nicaragua raced to get people to safety before a forecast direct hit from Iota. Its eye was about 30 miles (45 km) east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas after clipping the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia before dawn, cutting off electricity.
Images from Nicaragua’s military showed soldiers helping people into boats in heaving seas and trucks to move to higher land and larger towns in the watery region of jungles, rivers and coastline.
“There are villages that can protect or save themselves, but others cannot cope with this catastrophe after Eta,” said Teonela Wood, mayor of Honduras’ Brus Laguna municipality, which she said was home to more than 17,000 people.
Many of the people of Miskito are descendants of indigenous groups along with Africans who escaped from slavery and those castaways believed to have survived a 17th-century slave shipwreck.
The unprecedented 2020 hurricane season comes as Central America is facing an economic crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, with experts warning the compounding hardship could worsen infections, spread hunger and fuel a new round of migration from the region.
Iota is the fiercest November storm in the region since a 1932 Cuba hurricane that packed 175-mph (281-kph) winds, according to private forecasting firm AccuWeather.
Climate change is increasing the intensity of both rain and droughts across Central America, the United Nations refugee agency said last week, saying such phenomena can exacerbate the poverty that drives people to flee their homes.
With a rise in average global temperatures, hurricanes are growing stronger and spinning more slowly, which can prolong their destructive treks across land.