Hurricane Iota scouring areas devastated by Eta

Hurricane Iota is scouring areas devastated by Hurricane Eta

 Handout photo released by the Colombian Presidency of Colombian President Ivan Duque (3-R) visiting areas damaged by Hurricane Iota in Providencia, Colombia, on November 17, 2020. - Iota left one person dead after sweeping the Colombian Caribbean island of Providencia, where it caused widespread damage. Credit: Colombian Presidency / AFP

Stretches of Central America braced for heavy rain, strong winds and flooding Tuesday as Hurricane Iota bore down on the region, the latest hurricane to strike the area in less than two weeks. Even as Iota weakened after making landfall overnight, the National Hurricane Center warned that it could have an outsized effect as it batters areas still recovering from Hurricane Eta this month.

At least one person was killed on the Colombian island of Providencia overnight when Hurricane Iota struck the area as a catastrophic Category 5 before weakening when it made landfall in Nicaragua.

President Iván Duque of Colombia said the island had sustained severe damage that affected 98% of its infrastructure.

Duque also said ships from the Colombian navy were anchored off the coast of Providencia and waiting for weather conditions to improve to deliver aid to the island.

Iota made landfall in northeastern Nicaragua at 10:40 p.m. Eastern time Monday as a Category 4 storm, with wind speeds of up to about 155 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. With waters rising in the northeastern Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, hundreds of families evacuated from coastal communities as the storm ripped roofs from homes and hotels.

By Tuesday morning, Iota’s maximum wind speed had decreased to 75 mph and the storm had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, although the hurricane center still warned of the storm’s danger. No major incidents or loss of life had been reported by Nicaraguan authorities as of early Tuesday, although infrastructure was damaged in some locations. Iota was expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Tuesday afternoon.

Even as the storm lost strength, the hurricane center warned of “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding and landslides” across parts of Central America.

And aid workers struggled to reach communities that were cut off by washed-out bridges, downed trees and flooded roads from Eta, which made landfall this month about 15 miles from where Iota struck.

“Flooding and mudslides across portions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala could be exacerbated by Hurricane Eta’s recent effects there, resulting in significant to potentially catastrophic impacts,” the hurricane center said in an early morning advisory.

Iota was expected to move inland across Nicaragua during the morning and across southern Honduras by the evening. On Tuesday morning, the storm’s eye was about 135 miles east of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.