Hurricane Eta has devastated Central America. This Category 4 storm dumped anywhere between 15 and 25 inches of rain—with a potential of going as high as 40 inches—on parts of Nicaragua and Honduras, causing deadly mudslides and damage across the region.
Eta began its destructive course on Tuesday, November 3rd, hitting the coast of Nicaragua with winds up to 150mph, making it the second-most intense November hurricane on record. As Eta moved northwest toward Honduras, it eased in severity and dropping down to a tropical storm. Per Financial Times, the storm then hit Guatemala, killing dozen and leaving “many more missing… after one of the most brutal storms to lash the region in years triggered mudslides.”
As of reporting, there have been at least 235 deaths associated with the storm, “including about 150 in Guatemala, 41 in Honduras, 22 in Mexico, 17 in Panama, two in Nicaragua, two in Costa Rica, and one in El Salvador,” per Wikipedia.
Already devastated by COVID-19, these countries are heavily reliant upon coffee production, which may now be hampered by Eta. In Nicaragua, for instance, though the harvest has not yet started, “extended rain could cause the coffee to mature too quickly and affect its quality,” the National Alliance of Nicaraguan Coffee Producers president Lily Sevilla tells the Associated Press. The landslides in particular “could affect coffee plants and block roads needed to bring the harvest to market.”
In Guatemala, an estimated 13,000 families have lost “coffee, banana, cardamom, and other plantations” due to the storm, per Financial Times. And Eta isn’t done yet. The storm is expected to regather strength before making landfall in the United States, in Florida.
The total damage done by Eta is yet to be calculated. With heavy rains and landslides destroying roadways, surveying the effects on rural communities have proven to be challenging. We will be tracking this story in the coming days and weeks as more information is made available.
This story is developing…