by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Tues. Oct. 11, 2022
The storm that, at its strongest point, was Hurricane Julia has weakened since making landfall this weekend, but it continues to dump heavy rain over parts of Central America and Mexico, and, according to officials, has caused at least 28 deaths in Central America, as of Monday. According to one report from NPR, those deaths include fourteen in Guatemala, nine in El Salvador, four in Honduras, and one in Nicaragua.
In a press conference with the media on Tuesday, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) confirmed that, so far, there has been no major loss of life or severe injuries due to the storm here in Belize.
Amid heavy rain, which has led to widespread flooding across the region, the death toll in other parts of Central America continues to rise. In Guatemala, at least five people have died as a result of a hillside collapsing onto their house and burying them, according to that country’s disaster prevention agency. Just recently, Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, declared a “state of calamity,” which is expected to last for the next 30 days
In El Salvador, the collapse of a house led to the deaths of five soldiers. The soldiers were among a group of military personnel involved in recent anti-gang raids. They were taking refuge in the house, located in the town of Comasagua. Two persons also died in the town of Guatajiagua after the wall of their house collapsed.
According to reports from PBS News, one man died when he was swept away by floodwaters and another after a tree fell on him.
The capsizing of a boat in northern Honduras led to the death of five persons, while strong currents swept away one 22-year-old woman.
In addition to the still rising death toll, there are also dozens of persons still missing, including in Venezuela, where a massive landslide destroyed over 300 homes in the city of Las Tejerias. According to reports, residents had mere minutes to flee their homes before an avalanche of mud and debris rolled down the mountainside and into neighborhoods. On Sunday, the president of the South American nation, Nicolas Maduro, declared a three-day period of mourning for the lives lost during the landslide.
After first making landfall on Nicaragua’s coast as a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday, Julia weakened into a tropical storm and made its way into the Pacific later in the day. By Monday, the storm had weakened even further but has continued to cause heavy rain over Guatemala. Julia is the second system on record to have crossed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific with at least tropical storm-level strength. The first was Bonnie, which did so earlier this year.
According to the National Hurricane Center, as the week progresses, there is still a risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides across much of Central America and Mexico.