All missionaries in Nicaragua safe following Hurricane Iota

All missionaries serving in Nicaragua are safe and accounted for after Hurricane Iota battered the Central American nation on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The missionaries “were well prepared prior to the storm making landfall,” reported Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.

No reports were immediately available Tuesday on the status of members, their homes and Church-owned properties. The extent of the damage in affected coastal regions was unclear because the storm reportedly knocked out electricity, phone and internet service.

A government statement noted that at least 35 towns in the east and north had no phone service.

Preliminary reports from the coast included toppled trees and electric poles and roofs stripped from homes and businesses, said Guillermo González, director of Nicaragua’s emergency management agency. More than 40,000 people were in shelters, according to the Associated Press.

There were reports of at least two storm-related deaths in Nicaragua’s La Pinuela community. Others from the region were reported missing.

A woman stands by the fallen wall of her house after the passage of Hurricane Iota in Siuna, Nicaragua, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Hurricane Iota tore across Nicaragua on Tuesday, hours after roaring ashore as a Category 4 storm along almost exactly the same stretch of the Caribbean coast that was recently devastated by an equally powerful hurricane.
A woman stands by the fallen wall of her house after the passage of Hurricane Iota in Siuna, Nicaragua, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Hurricane Iota tore across Nicaragua on Tuesday, hours after roaring ashore as a Category 4 storm along almost exactly the same stretch of the Caribbean coast that was recently devastated by an equally powerful hurricane. Credit: Carlos Herrera, Associated Press

On Monday, Iota intensified into a Category 5 storm, but it weakened as it neared the coast and made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. The system came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane about 30 miles south of the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, also known as Bilwi, according to the Associated Press report. 

That was just 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3, also as a Category 4 storm. Central Americans, including many Latter-day Saints, were still cleaning up following that deadly storm, which eventually reached the United States.

Nicaragua is home to just over 100,000 Latter-day Saints, 12 stakes and two missions. The Church has had a presence in the Central American nation since 1954.