Hurricane Iota Makes Landfall In Nicaragua As A Category 4 Storm

Nov 17, 2020
Originally published on November 17, 2020 8:25 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Hurricane Iota pounded into Nicaragua's east coast overnight. It's the 30th named storm in a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. The Category 4 storm is on track to move inland and west towards Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. And the National Hurricane Center is warning of catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge and torrential rainfall across Central America.

And, of course, this is happening just two weeks after Hurricane Eta devastated parts of the region. So how does that factor into the aid effort? We're going to ask Matt Hackworth. He's a senior adviser with the humanitarian group Lutheran World Relief. He joins us on Skype from the city of San Pedro Sula in northwestern Honduras. Thank you so much for being with us.

MATT HACKWORTH: My pleasure.

MARTIN: I know it's still early where you are. You are north of where the - of the eye of the storm is supposed to hit. But can you just describe what it is like where you are and what you've been hearing and seeing from the other regions already being pummeled by this?

HACKWORTH: Sure. So right now, there are rain bands coming out from over the ocean. And they are slamming, if you will, into the mountainous region of Honduras' center. And we're worried about the rain running off those mountains but also the storm surge, because when the storm surge comes up the rivers that lead to San Pedro Sula - we know that the poorest people live in the low-lying areas. And so that's what's of most concern to us right now as Lutheran World Relief.

MARTIN: How is the damage that was caused by the Hurricane Eta just a couple of weeks ago, how has that made these communities more vulnerable?

HACKWORTH: So right now, it's a race just to keep up between - among those trying to help, so that's Honduras' government, as well as groups like Lutheran World Relief. There's significant concern about getting relief supplies - like water, food, hygiene supplies, that sort of thing - to the people that need them. And so there are all these shifting demands. There are evacuations, sheltering concerns. And then sometimes people take shelter just where they feel safe, and it's not an approved shelter. Other times, there are approved shelters and they're overflowing with people. So it's kind of a race right now.

MARTIN: Are there enough resources? I mean, are you getting what you need from the government?

HACKWORTH: The government, I think, is doing its best. But I think there are never enough resources. The shelters I've been in are overcrowded. You can smell the effects of not having enough water and hygiene supplies. And people are just crowded in there, into these buildings that are way overflowing. And they were never designed to hold this many people. This is a country where about half the population doesn't have enough food to eat on any given day. And so even without a disaster, Honduras is a challenging place just to make sure that the everyday needs are met.

MARTIN: And, of course, all of this happening during a global pandemic - no possibility of social distancing, obviously, in those sheltering situations. Matt Hackworth, senior adviser with Lutheran World Relief. Matt, thank you. We really appreciate it.

HACKWORTH: It's my pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.