Iota is now a Category 5 hurricane predicted to make a catastrophic landfall in northeastern Nicaragua tonight, following in the footsteps of Hurricane Eta, which devastated countries in Central America less than two weeks ago.
The hurricane is carrying maximum sustained winds of 160 mph and is predicted to bring devastating wind, life-threatening storm surge and as much as 20 inches of rain to the region. Landfall is expected tonight with the storm weakening after it hits land.
According to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), the rivers are still high and floodwaters have not yet drained in many communities affected by Eta, that it wouldn’t take a very strong storm to create a new tragedy. Red Cross assessments show more than 2.5 million people from Panama to Belize were affected in some way by Eta, although the impacts are most severe in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Iota is also a threat to Red Cross volunteers, staff of the Federation and partners of the Red Cross Movement who are helping people impacted by Hurricane Eta.
The Red Cross is preparing and is supporting the preparation of communities in case of more rains and floods, guaranteeing people have access to food, water, Covid-19 prevention equipment and other emergency resources should rains and floods cut off roads or leave communities isolated. Teams are also evacuating people ahead of the landfall and search and rescue missions continue. Red Cross workers are coordinating with local and national authorities to ensure that the humanitarian response to Eta continues and that the necessary early action measures are taken.
This Atlantic hurricane season has seen the most named storms on record, with 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes.