Acapulco’s Struggle to Rebuild Post-Hurricane Otis

by Ethan Kim
Acapulco Recovery

In the aftermath of Hurricane Otis, Acapulco’s recovery has been erratic and challenging. Amid the ruins of a luxury apartment with a panoramic Pacific view, a 58-year-old cook was seen packing high-end shoes into a bag for her employer. The building was reduced to a mere shell, with debris strewn around, evidence of the hurricane’s ruthless impact.

Rufina Ruiz, despite the chaos, remained hopeful. Her own home in a nearby suburb was merely flooded, unlike neighboring houses that were completely engulfed. She missed the government census for hurricane victims due to work commitments, forfeiting potential aid. “Working is preferable,” she asserted.

More than two weeks have passed since Otis escalated from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in a mere 12 hours, leaving both authorities and residents unprepared. Acapulco, home to 1 million people and characterized by its mix of luxury hotels, impoverished suburbs, tourism, and drug-related violence, is recovering at a disparate pace.

The city’s main streets, once blocked by debris and uprooted palm trees, are now navigable. Signs offering free food dot the cityscape, and queues for necessities like water and medical supplies are a common sight.

Acapulco’s affluent, who had evacuated before or right after the hurricane, are returning to assess the damage to their coastal properties. Along the bay’s boulevard, scenes of restoration are visible, with workers securing damaged storefronts and a young man setting up a small eatery.

The presence of soldiers and National Guard troops is now more prominent than the palm trees that used to define the cityscape.

Residents have voiced frustrations over the lack of adequate warning regarding the hurricane’s severity. Mariel Campos, a former hotel employee from one of Acapulco’s poorest areas, declined an offer to clean debris at her workplace due to prohibitive transportation costs from her damaged home.

Hurricane Otis claimed at least 48 lives, with many still missing. It ravaged 80% of the hotel infrastructure and 96% of businesses in a city heavily reliant on tourism, already struggling with the influence of organized crime.

The federal government has unveiled a $3.4 billion reconstruction initiative, including support for families, small businesses, and hotels. Despite proclaiming an end to the emergency, many, like psychologist Ana Mextlitzin Méndez, criticize the slow restoration of basic services.

Community efforts have emerged to clear the streets, but challenges persist. Doctors Without Borders has raised concerns about potential diseases like dengue, exacerbated by damaged hospitals and an environment ripe for mosquitoes.

The government’s efforts, though significant, need to be complemented by clear guidance for residents, a sentiment echoed by Méndez.

The disaster’s aftermath was marked not only by material losses but also by widespread fear and chaos. Residents like Alci García were forced to flee the city for safety, while others, like Daniela Fiesco, engaged in looting for essentials before organizing community defense measures.

Amidst the turmoil, acts of solidarity were evident. A community kitchen near Fiesco’s home provided meals, and Alejandra Hernández sheltered neighbors during the storm.

In parts of the city where no official aid has reached, residents rely on private and church donations. Victorino Justo Bolaños stands on the remains of his home, now reduced to a concrete room and a partial kitchen. Yet, in the midst of devastation, teens like Anthony Sánchez find a silver lining, flying kites in the wire-free skies.

For continued coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean, follow AP’s updates at https://bigbignews.net/latin-america.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Acapulco Recovery

How has Hurricane Otis impacted Acapulco?

Hurricane Otis rapidly intensified to a Category 5, causing significant damage to Acapulco. It affected 80% of hotel infrastructure and 96% of businesses, primarily in tourism, resulting in at least 48 deaths and numerous missing persons.

What challenges are residents of Acapulco facing post-Hurricane Otis?

Residents are dealing with a lack of basic services, high transportation costs, and the threat of diseases like dengue. Despite a $3.4 billion government reconstruction plan, many areas, especially poorer neighborhoods, are still struggling to recover.

What are the signs of recovery and resilience in Acapulco following the hurricane?

Recovery efforts include the clearing of main streets, community-organized relief like food distribution, and self-help initiatives. Acts of solidarity, such as sheltering neighbors and setting up community kitchens, have been crucial in the aftermath.

How has the community responded to the devastation caused by Hurricane Otis?

The community has self-organized to clear debris, with residents setting up barricades for protection and participating in communal efforts like neighborhood kitchens. However, they express a need for more guidance and support from the government.

What criticisms have been directed at the government’s response to Hurricane Otis?

Critics, including local psychologists and residents, argue that the government’s response was slow, with inadequate warnings about the hurricane’s severity and slow restoration of services. They also challenge the declaration of an end to the emergency while many areas still lack basic amenities.

More about Acapulco Recovery

  • Hurricane Otis’ Impact on Acapulco
  • Acapulco’s Struggle and Recovery Efforts
  • Community Response to Acapulco Disaster
  • Government Reconstruction Plans for Acapulco
  • Challenges in Post-Hurricane Recovery in Acapulco

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ElaineG November 11, 2023 - 9:34 am

it’s articles like this that show the real impact of natural disasters, not just the statistics but the human side of it. well done to the author.

MarkusK November 11, 2023 - 11:52 am

It’s crazy to think how a city can be hit so hard, and still, the people come together like this. solidarity in the face of adversity is truly inspiring.

Sara L November 11, 2023 - 1:30 pm

i’m surprised the government isn’t doing more, these people need all the help they can get! can’t believe some areas are still without power.

Tom_R November 11, 2023 - 5:25 pm

Great article, really captures the essence of what’s happening in Acapulco. The resilience of these people is something else. Just shows, no matter what, life goes on.

Jenny M. November 11, 2023 - 7:55 pm

wow, this article really brings to light the struggles of Acapulco after the hurricane, it’s heartbreaking to see how much they’ve lost and still fighting to recover.


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