The second hurricane this month hits Nicaragua and Honduras. Where the cigar industry had a sigh of relief last week when hurricane Eta did not do much damage to the tobacco farms, Iota is hitting both countries now. The level 5 hurricane did seem to lose some strength once it made landfall, but still enough to do major damage.
The hurricane brings heavy rainfall, up to 30 inches in certain parts of Nicaragua and Honduras. That will cause floods, mudslides, and other dangerous situations. Since the tobacco planting season in Nicaragua hasn’t really started, it will not do a lot of damage to young plants. Most tobacco growers are waiting for Iota to blow over and then for the soil to dry before moving the tiny plants from the nursery to the farms. Even though the damage is minimum, it does shorten the tobacco growing season. And that could lead to smaller leaves and lesser leaves. Hurricanes Eta and Iota may lead to a shortage of tobacco, or at least a shortage of large wrapper leaves this growing season.
Nicaragua reports sixteen confirmed kills, including two siblings of 8 and 11. There are still people missing after a landslide in Matagalpa, including minors and they are included in the death count. The Nicaraguan government evacuated over 60,000 people. This season is the most active hurricane season in recorded history. 30 storms and 13 hurricanes were strong enough to receive names.
There are five confirmed kills in Honduras. And just like in Nicaragua, 60,000 Honduran residents are in government shelters waiting out the storm. The government has issued a red alert throughout the country. The main highways are closed since yesterday. The planting season in Honduras is ahead of Nicaragua thus the potential for damage to the tobacco plants is much higher than in Nicaragua.
At the Ministry of Cigars office, we pray for all those affected negatively by the hurricanes.
photo credit header photo: Democracy now