Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Storm smashes through Mexico, floods US

‘LUCKY’:Homes were flattened, but Hurricane Patricia caused less damage in Mexico than had been predicted, with a Mexican official saying that ‘nature was kind-hearted’


Red Cross volunteers load humanitarian aid boxes from a truck at the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Hurricane Patricia flattened a fishing hamlet on Mexico’s Pacific coast, but authorities were relieved on Saturday to see that the record-breaking storm largely spared the nation and dissipated as it moved north.

The wood and brick homes with tin and palm leaf roofs of 40 families in the village of Chamela were blown away when Patricia made landfall as a Category Five monster in Mexico’s Jalisco State late on Friday.

The families survived because they evacuated to a shelter before landfall, which occurred just 20km to the south.

The villagers returned to pick up the pieces on Saturday and complained that the government had not provided any help.

“We have nothing. My property’s gone,” said Griselda Hernandez, looking at the space without walls or roof that used to be her home.

While the residents of Chamela lost nearly everything, most of the region incredibly suffered relatively little damage and the authorities rejoiced that no deaths were reported.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto lifted the hurricane alert for Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit states as he visited the region, saying that the damage was “smaller than expected.”

Mexican Minister of Communications and Transport Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said Mexico was saved because the population was well prepared and the hurricane was slowed by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.

“We were lucky that the impact was diverted” toward the mountains, he said. “Nature was kind-hearted.”

Pena Nieto said about 3,500 homes were “partially or completely affected” while electricity was restored to half of the 235,000 people who lost power.

He did not specify how the homes were affected.

Patricia tore down trees, triggered some flooding and caused minor landslides elsewhere in Jalisco and neighboring Colima State.

Meanwhile in the US, Patricia — now downgraded into a tropical depression — merged with another powerful storm system to bring heavy rains to southeastern Texas, triggering flash floods and derailing a freight train on Saturday.

The US National Weather Service predicted 15cm to 30cm of rain for coastal areas including southwest Louisiana State by tomorrow, exacerbated by waves up to 1.5m high and wind gusts up to 56kph.

As the storms moved eastward early yesterday, cities in the state’s flood-prone Gulf of Mexico region including Houston, the state’s second-most populous metropolitan area with a population of 6.1 million, braced for potential floods.

Houston Mayor Annise Danette Parker warned residents to stay away from wet roads after dark and be aware that flooding is likely. The National Weather Service said the area could be swamped with more than 90cm of additional rain.

Officials urged vigilance, reminding residents of deadly past flooding.

“Some people lost their lives in high-water incidents,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, whose county includes Houston. “We’re going to get a lot of rain tonight and it’s going to result in some high water situations so for heaven’s sake be careful.”

A series of storms in May triggered floods and led to 21 deaths.

In the Galveston area, authorities urged a voluntary evacuation of the elderly and residents with medical issues on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston Bay.

The conditions could hinder transportation to and from the peninsula. Power outages are also possible as a result of gale force winds, authorities said.

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