December 8, 2023

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Pilar brings back memories of Hurricane Mitch

Pilar brings back memories of Hurricane Mitch

Tragedy struck the countries of Central America at the end of October 1998, when the hurricane, in an irregular crossing, struck the regions of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and part of Mexico, and continued its path towards the territory of the United States, where it also left its mark. A deadly imprint as the second most terrifying storm in history.

In El Salvador, it caused the deaths of about 240 people, millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and agriculture, damage to about 10,000 homes, and about half a million victims.

Mitch also left thousands of victims in the countries of the region, as Honduras witnessed the worst part of the tragedy with nearly 11,000 dead and a similar number of missing people. Although the numbers are “estimates,” it is not possible to determine reality.

In Nicaragua, the mudslide caused by the Casita volcano killed about three thousand people, and another thousand died in other regions of the country due to Mitch, in addition to severe damage to the infrastructure and road network. The Caribbean coast is still suffering from the effects of this “monster” that destroyed everything in its path, changed the course of rivers and destroyed forests and nature reserves.

Ecologist Luis Gonzalez, from the Salvadoran Environmental Unit, is one of those who estimate that despite the tragedy that occurred 25 years ago, the country is becoming more vulnerable.

No one questions the actions taken by the government in the face of the approaching Pilar. The slowly advancing storm is a reminder of what has not been done and everything that can be done to limit the effects of climate change, can no longer be done. Humans have no choice but to reduce the damage. .

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“A cyclone needs a large area of ​​ocean to gain strength and fuel itself, moving as the Earth rotates westward. This means it will form where it can move without interruption and will weaken over dry land,” the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) explained.

Pilar does not have so many sea voyages as Mitch did from the seas of Africa, the Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean to conquer Central America with might and leave his mark which even today causes fear and reminds us of the pain of many days of death and ruin.

That tropical wave that generated and left the African coast had more than eight thousand kilometers of ocean in front of it, of which it fueled enough to become the second most powerful hurricane in history, “only after the “Great Hurricane.” Centuries ago, in 1780, in the Lesser Antilles, similar to the devastating hurricanes Galveston in 1900 and in 1974, are now remembered with concern before Pilar’s arrival.

There is a fear, perhaps unfounded, that a few days ago Hurricane Otis defied forecasts by quickly transforming from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane and striking the coastal city of Acapulco, leaving the city devastated and causing millions of dollars in damage.

The losses in El Salvador caused by Hurricane Mitch in its wake amounted to 240 deaths, 84,005 victims, 10,372 damaged homes, and 326 damaged educational centers, according to official data, which is something that many will remember when Pilar approaches.