PUNTA GORDA – Hurricane Nana made landfall in Belize, pelting a relatively sparsely populated stretch of the country's coast with heavy rain and wind, before weakening while pushing across Guatemala and dissipating late Thursday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that Nana hit land between the coastal towns of Dangriga and Placencia in the early minutes of Thursday at an area around 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Belize City with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), making it barely a hurricane. The storm was moving westward at 15 mph (24 kph).
Nana weakened to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph) by late in the afternoon, and dissipated during the night near Guatemala's border with Mexico.
Guatemala reported heavy rains, especially along that border, but the country's national disaster coordinator reported no deaths and said no one had been moved to shelters.
Belize authorities also did not report any injuries. More than 4,000 people, primarily in the south of the country, moved to government shelters.
Belize Red Cross Director General Lily Bowman said teams were assessing damage across the country, but so far unconfirmed reports indicated the worst impact was on banana plantations.
“People were in full preparedness mode for this storm and activated their emergency plans so since it was not a big storm and the damage is contained and minimal in most areas it can be considered a good simulation,” she said.
Thousands of people stocked up on food, water and construction materials Wednesday ahead of the storm's landfall. Long lines stretched through supermarkets and hardware store shelves were nearly bare as residents of Belize bought materials to board up windows and doors.