Hurricane Iota, which made landfall on the coast of Nicaragua late Monday, could spark a humanitarian crisis in the storm-ravaged region, according to aid organizations.
Iota hit almost exactly the same stretch of the Caribbean coast that was devastated by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.
“Iota will have a devastating impact on areas already hit by hunger, drought, COVID19 and the calamity visited earlier from Eta. Millions of people have already lost everything they had,” said Asier Hernando, Oxfam’s Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean, in a statement emailed to Fox News.
“While #Iota's winds are lower, the #hurricane still has the potential to produce potentially catastrophic effects from flash flooding and mud slides over central America,” tweeted the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday morning.
People living under precarious conditions make preparations before Hurricane Iota makes landfall in San Manuel Cortes, Honduras, Monday, November 16, 2020. Hurricane Iota rapidly strengthened into a Category 5 storm that is likely to bring catastrophic damage to the same part of Central America already battered by a powerful Hurricane Eta less than two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez)
Forecasters also warned that potentially catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides are possible through Thursday in parts of Central America.
The extent of the damage was unclear because much of the affected region was without electricity and phone and Internet service, and strong winds hampered radio transmissions.
“Oxfam is on the ground and now assessing the damages caused by Iota,” said Gloria García Parra, Oxfam's Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, in the statement. “There had already been a lot of damage to infrastructure caused by Eta and this urgently needs attention. We’ve had to temporarily suspend our on-going relief operations because of this new storm Iota, we cannot risk the lives of the people who are providing the response.”
Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is also on the ground responding to Hurricane Iota. “Rapid response teams are assessing need,” said Yvan Castro, Deputy Director of World Vision in Guatemala, in a statement emailed to Fox News. “We have propositioned materials ready for distribution, including food, clean water, mattresses and blankets.”
World Vision voiced its concern that Honduras is facing “unprecedented devastation,” especially in the country’s north, where land is already saturated from Hurricane Eta.
The organization said that natural disasters such as Hurricane Eta and Iota are increasing as a result of climate change. “This is the impact that climate change is having on the lives of the world’s most vulnerable,” said Jose Nelson Chavez, Regional Emergency Advisor for World Vision in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the statement. “Once again people who are least responsible for climate change are suffering the most.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.