Eta kills 7 in North Carolina, turns Guatemalan Indigenous community into a cemetery

Hurricane Eta is causing widespread destruction across the South Eastern U.S. and Central America. Youtube / Screenshot

Guatemalan officials have called off search efforts for more than 100 people estimated to be entombed by a mudslide caused by rains from Eta that engulfed the village of Queja, Alta Verapaz.

Ovidio Choc Pop, mayor of San Cristóbal Verapaz of which Queja is/was a part, said he would seek to have the location declared as a cemetery. Climate change is increasing extreme rainfall and has been linked to storms moving more slowly — both leading to increased damage and rainfall as storms stall over land for longer periods of time, as Eta did across Central America. Well over 100 people have died in Guatemala alone with dozens more across Central America.

Both historic and acute discrimination against Indigenous Mayan populations have led to those groups being hit disproportionately hard by Eta, on top of widespread malnutrition — all of which inflict compounding harms as those displaced by the storm are forced into overcrowded shelters. Historically dispossessed of their land, Indigenous communities are forced to farm the steep mountainsides typical of the Central Guatemalan highlands, making them vulnerable to landslides.

“A lot of aid is politicised here,” Diego Ceto, a leader in the Indigenous Ixil community in Nebaj, Quiché, told the New Humanitarian. Winter Coc Ba, the Indigenous Q’eqchi’ mayor of the heavily flooded San Pedro Carchá was excluded from an emergency meeting with Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei last weekend. Winter Coc’s exclusion was indicative of the “monumental contempt that persists against the Maya,” according to Sandra Xinico Batz, a Kakchiquel columnist and anthropologist.

“It’s abandonment; it’s irresponsibility; and it’s a lack of interest in these communities,” María Chipel, a Maya K’iche member of the Tz’ununija’ Indigenous Women’s Movement, told The New Humanitarian. Tz’ununija’ is one of many efforts led by Indiginous people in Guatemala to help other Indigenous people in Guatemala left behind by the government in the wake of Eta’s destruction. “We have had an earthquake, and we have had genocide, but never a storm like this,” Ceto said.

Flash floods linked to Eta kill 7 in North Carolina

At least seven people are dead and two others were missing Thursday night after flash flooding destroyed bridges, submerged roads, and swept across a campground.

Alexander Countywas the hardest-hit of the five counties under a state of emergency, with at least three dead when floodwaters inundated a campground and a fourth person was killed in their car when floodwaters destroyed a bridge. The widespread and extreme rainfall — which pushed multiple rivers to or past “major flood” levels — was “a direct association with Eta,” pulling “deep tropical moisture” ahead of a cold front moving across Virginia and the Carolinas, meteorologist Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center told The New York Times. Warmer air, heated by global warming, holds more water vapor.

Just as a bigger bucket can hold and dump more water, a warmer atmosphere can therefore dump more water when it rains. “Remember this is not a dot on a map,” Mr. Feltgen said. “These are large storms with impacts over a large area. Eta is a classic example.”

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