As Iota fades, desperation escalates in Central America

By November 18, 2020

Central America (MNN) — The wind speeds from Tropical Storm Iota may have died down, but danger remains in Central America. Forecasters expect life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in portions of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

TransWorld Radio’s Steve Shantz says authorities are struggling to get people out of harm’s way. “The job is made very complicated because there is no gasoline left to power the boats to evacuate people,” Shantz explains.

Hurricane Iota approaching Nicaragua as a Category 5 on November 16.
(Photo courtesy of the National Hurricane Center)

Responders used most of their immediate resources last week to save people stranded by Hurricane Eta. “All the rain fell on the mountains, washed down into the valleys below, and flooded out entire villages,” Shantz says.

“People were spending the night on the roofs of their homes. A lot of evacuations had to happen, and [these were] mainly done by boat.”

No chance to recover

On Monday, Hurricane Iota reached Category 5 strength before weakening slightly as it approached the Nicaraguan coastline. Iota gained recognition as the strongest late-season hurricane on record, as well as the 30th named storm this year. The Atlantic hurricane season ends November 30, and typically sees a dozen named storms.

Two weeks and 15 miles were all that separated Eta and Iota when they made landfall as Category 4 hurricanes. Shantz says people throughout the region are weary from back-to-back disasters and hungry for hope.

“We need to be praying for people’s spiritual lives at this time, that they would hear the message of Christ on the radio and through other means.”

Support TWR’s work in Central America here. “[Our partners] are trying to speak spiritual hope into people’s lives. These are people who have gone through a difficult time. They’ve seen death [and] job loss from COVID. Now, they’ve seen loss from the environment, from natural disaster,” Shantz says.

“[These are] people who have very little, and now everything they have has been lost.”

Like Christian radio stations in the West, TWR partners in Central America use their platform to encourage the masses during trying times.

“They would raise funds to help people physically, as well as bringing public service messages and information to people [about] where they can go to find shelter,” Shantz says.

Pray relief workers can reach people in dire need of assistance. Pray those who hear the Gospel on TWR broadcasts will turn to Christ for salvation.



Header image is a track map of Hurricane Iota; the points show the location of the storm at 6-hour intervals. (Graphic created by FleurDeOdile/obtained via Wikimedia Commons)

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