Hurricane Eta pounds Central America, Catholic Relief Services responds

GettyImages 1229496430 Damage to a bridge in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala following Hurricane Eta. | Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images.

Catholic Relief Services is working to aid relief efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Eta, which tore through Central America this week, killing at least 100 and leaving thousands more displaced.

"Catholic Relief Services is coordinating with Caritas Nicaragua and Trocaire to provide some 600 displaced people in evacuation shelters with food, water, and supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19," the agency said.

The organization is also working in Guatemala, "delivering food, hygiene supplies like toothpaste and soap, and sleeping materials to families who have lost their homes in the most hard-hit areas."

Hurricane Eta made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Honduras and northeast Nicaragua on Tuesday, with winds reaching 150 miles per hour, before moving on to pound Guatemala with heavy, causing landslides and flooding.

The storm has causes serious damage, downing power lines, uprooting trees, and ripping roofs off houses. Parts of Nicaragua and Honduras were forecast to get 25-35 inches of rain, the Associated Press reported.

Eta has weakened into a tropical depression but is expected to grow into a tropical storm, with both Cuba and western Florida in its projected path.

Catholic Relief Services said its teams on the ground reported significant destruction in Honduras, where more than 500 people have been displaced.

In Nicaragua, the damage is still being assessed, with the hardest-hit area, the North Atlantic Autonomous Region, housing Miskitu and Mayangna indigenous communities.

In northern Guatemala, heavy flooding has damaged roads, buildings, and bridges. Some 25,000 people are being moved into emergency shelters. The government has declared a state of emergency.

"The situation is more serious than we expected," said Nicole Kast, head of Catholic Relief Services' programming in Guatemala. "The last few weeks of heavy rains means the soil was already saturated and rivers close to overflowing. In some places we saw a month's worth of rain in 10 hours."

"Local infrastructure has collapsed, leading to landslides, bridges being washed away and thousands of families isolated and in need of support," she continued. "CRS is working with our partners to try to reach the most vulnerable as quickly as possible."

Eta is the latest major storm in one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record.

In late August, Hurricane Laura moved across Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba before pounding the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, particularly devastating Southwest Louisiana. The storm killed at least 77 people and caused more than $14 billion in damages. The Gulf Coast was hit again by Hurricane Delta six weeks later.

Earlier this week, Typhoon Goni hit parts of the Philippines, with 195 mile-per-hour winds. At least 20 people died and 10,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed.

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