Mexico storms: Worst over for some, coming for others

CNN
Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 4:49pm

Ana Benavides, a stranded American tourist in this beach resort town, tried to leave by car.

She didn't get more than a mile before blocked roads stopped her.

Then she waited for 12 hours in a line along with thousands of other stuck tourists hoping to get on a flight out. While more than 10,000 tourists had been evacuated in this way, there was no guarantee that Benavides would be one of the lucky ones to board a plane.

Some people, in their desperation, slept in the line.

Benavides kept her situation in perspective: "You know, we're a lot better off than a lot of people," she said.

The worst of a deadly storm has passed, but tension and confusion remain as the extent of the damage continued to emerge.

The weather in Acapulco has improved. And the storm -- Manuel -- weakened Thursday from a hurricane to a tropical storm. But it was still packing 45 mph winds and bringing heavy rains to Mexico's Sinaloa state.

The storm was expected to produce 5 to 10 inches of rain over Sinaloa, with some places getting as much as 15 inches, forecasters said.

At least 97 people lost their lives due to a trio of storms that slapped Mexico from nearly all sides, Mexico's federal Civil Protection office told CNNMexico. Another 58 were reported missing after a mudslide about 50 miles from Acapulco.

In addition to Manuel, those living on Mexico's Gulf Coast were recovering from the remnants of Hurricane Ingrid, and in the south, a storm system over the Yucatan Peninsula was likely to become a tropical cyclone.

Manuel left about 40,000 tourists stranded in Acapulco. As of Thursday, more than 10,000 were able to board military or commercial flights out of the storm-ravaged area.

Authorities said they hope to reopen the highway leading out of Acapulco on Friday, which would allow for thousands more to leave and quicken the flow of food and other aid to the area.

On the Gulf Coast, in the state of Veracruz, Ingrid and its remnants claimed 11 lives. About 32,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Residents there sent photos to CNN showing streets that looked like rivers, with the tops of cars sticking out of the floodwaters.

The biggest concern on the Gulf Coast was that the new storm system brewing in the south could bring more rain to the already saturated area.

More than 1 million residents across Mexico have been affected in some way by the storms, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told reporters.
 

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