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Washington, DC, December 15, 2020 – The aftermath of hurricanes Eta and Iota continue to cause mounting devastation in Central America, specifically in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Reuters reports that the natural disasters have cost more than $10 billion in damages. Separately, Aon’s monthly Global Catastrophe report, highlighted by the Insurance Journal, says the estimated cost within the region is $7 billion, most of which is uninsured.   

By whatever calculation, the aftermath of Eta and Iota have been catastrophic for the region. The devastation has prompted governments from Guatemala and Honduras to seek Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from the U.S. With ongoing instability and deteriorating conditions, TPS is merited as part of a regional approach to relief in Central America that would not only grant relief for those seeking refuge from the disasters, but create economic assistance for the region through remittances from immigrants already settled and working in the U.S..  

Gustavo Palencia’s reporting in Reuters is excerpted below and available in full here:   Hurricanes Eta and Iota have caused about $10 billion in damages in Honduras and affected more than 4 million people, the Central American country’s foreign minister said on Monday as he called for international support.  

The storms hit within two weeks of each other last month, bringing disastrous flooding to much of Central America and hitting Honduras particularly hard.  

“It seems that many of you do not know the magnitude of the disaster that occurred recently in Honduras … some $10 billion in economic losses,” Honduras Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales told an online meeting with counterparts from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean.  

“We reiterate our call for allies and the international community to accompany Honduras in this process of sustainable national construction,” Rosales added.   A new U.S. administration is due to start under President-elect Joe Biden, who has promised more aid for the region in the wake of cuts under his predecessor Donald Trump.  

It was not clear how Rosales calculated the damages, which add up to slightly under half of Honduras’ gross domestic product. Neighboring Nicaragua, which also suffered from the hurricanes, reported losses of $743 million.  

In Honduras, the storms destroyed more than 1,400 homes, several dozen bridges and some 3 million hectares of crops, Rosales said.  

The flooding has pushed thousands of people in the northern city of San Pedro Sula from their homes, forcing them to live in flimsy sheds and prompting some to consider migrating to the United States.  

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has called the back-to-back storms the worst disaster to ever hit Honduras. They were not as deadly as Hurricane Mitch, which in 1998 killed some 10,000 people in Central America, including a particularly high death toll in Honduras.  

The Insurance Business article is excerpted below and can be read in full here
 

Hurricanes Eta and Iota in November topped off the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season when a record of 12 named storms made landfall in the United States. The two final hurricanes of the season had an economic cost of approximately $9 billion, according to Aon’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report.   Hurricane Eta made landfall and caused extensive damage in Nicaragua, before moving to Honduras and Guatemala, and subsequently making landfall in south central Cuba as a tropical storm. Total economic losses in Central America were estimated at nearly $7 billion, most of which were uninsured, said the report.  

… Hurricane Iota became the first Category 5 hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Season on Nov. 16, making landfall in Nicaragua on the same day. The storm produced dangerous coastal and inland flooding as well as high wind across Central America, with extensive impacts experienced in Nicaragua and Honduras. Total economic losses were expected to reach $1.25 billion, most of which will be uninsured.   …

“Hurricanes Eta and Iota became two of the fastest-intensifying storms in the Atlantic, and Iota was the latest-forming Category 5 storm on record for the basin. While 2020 storms have not set any new financial loss milestones, the scientific records serve as a reminder of the risks posed to both developed and emerging markets,” he said [Michal Lörinc, catastrophe analyst for Aon’s Impact Forecasting team] said.   

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