Within just two weeks, Central America endured two late-season Category 4 hurricanes. On November 3rd, 2020, Hurricane Eta made landfall along Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean coast. On the 17th of the same month, Hurricane Iota brought further devastation, landing a mere 15 miles further south than Eta. Persistent rainfall and heavy winds resulted in flash floods, river floods, landslides, and extensive agricultural, institutional, and residential infrastructure damage. Overall, the storms affected about 7.5 million people across Central America and the Caribbean region. The rapid succession of the two storms made separating damages difficult, but it is estimated that Eta was directly responsible for at least 165 deaths and $6.8 billion worth of damage. Iota directly contributed to an additional 67 deaths and $1.4 billion worth of damage, nearly half of which comprised damage in Nicaragua alone. Many fatal events occurred in the Jinotega Department of Nicaragua, where one mudslide buried at least 30 people. Loss of power, water, food, shelter, and telephone service was widespread throughout the region. This poster presents a spatial analysis of the intensity and movement of both hurricanes across Nicaragua. We will share a preliminary analysis of vulnerability and impacts focusing on crop devastation and landslides in northern and central Nicaragua. Finally, we will share an initial assessment of institutional and community response in smallholder farming communities, together with plans for follow-up field research. Future evaluation of survey data collected from smallholder farms will better our understanding of long-term impacts and the success of different hazard responses.
Bacon, C.M., Sundstrom, W., Flores-Gomez, M.E. and Diaz, R. (2022) Exposure to Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Farming Communities in Northern and Central Nicaragua. Poster Presented at American Association of Geographers Annual Meetings. (virtual). Feb. 26/27. Virtual/New York.