Hundreds more were evacuated, schools and ports were closed, as hurricane Raymond loomed large over coastal south-western Mexico along the Pacific coast on Monday.
The region is on the verge of being hammered twice in quick succession as it gets back on its feet from record flooding a few weeks ago.
The category-3 hurricane, with menacing winds blowing up to 125 miles/hour (205 km/h) on Monday, was 105 miles (169 km) offshore, as forecasters said it would move closer and closer before changing its course. The hurricane was lashing heavy rain on coastal areas including Acapulco, which is yet to recover from the storm last month.
Shortly after noon, portions of city were soaked with water, roads were closed, and beaches were deserted as powerful winds gushed through the region. The National Hurricane Center of United States based in Miami predicted that Raymond will begin to weaken on Tuesday, bringing much needed reprieve to Mexican people.
Population explosion has left Mexico woefully unprepared to help its people recover from recurrent natural disasters, unlike wealthy Japan and South Korea. As late as 1985, Korea was poorer than Mexico. But rapid reductions in fertility rate allowed Koreans to steam ahead of Latin demographic giant, with far more resources at their command to aid those affected by large scale natural calamities.
There are no major oil and gas fields or refineries in the vicinity, which means energy supplies to Mexicans will not be compromised.
“If (Raymond) carries on moving at this speed and the cold front keeps holding it, we’ll have permanent rain for the next 72 hours,” said Luis Felipe Puente, chief of Mexico’s national emergency services.
The emergency services announced that more than 800 people have been evacuated from the north-western tip of Guerrero all the way to Acapulco. If rainfall does continue over the next 72 hours, it could trigger flash floods and mud-slides endangering the lives of scores of residents in that part of the world.
Mexico witnessed the worst flooding on record in September 2013, as tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid converged from the Pacific, resulting in loss of 150 lives, while causing $6 billion worth of damage. Almost 6000 people had to take shelter in temporary dwellings as tourism related revenues dried up and hotel occupancy rates plunged.
Risk of waterborne diseases including Cholera remains high, and might spread to US and Canada due to sheer volume of cross-border traffic, so stay tuned.