Residents of Hurricane-Devastated Acapulco Desperate for Aid Amid Slow Government Response

by Andrew Wright
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Hurricane Otis aftermath

Acapulco, the renowned resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast, finds itself in the throes of desperation following the relentless fury of Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm responsible for claiming the lives of at least 27 individuals and wreaking havoc on the city’s infrastructure. The aftermath has left its one-million-strong population grappling with dire circumstances, while concerns loom over the government’s tardy response, with some fearing that priorities may favor the city’s tourism-driven economic revival over addressing the pressing needs of its most vulnerable inhabitants.

As the sun set on Thursday, the once-glamorous beachside high-rises stood stripped of entire walls, emblematic of the widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of households remained plunged into darkness, bereft of even the most basic necessities, leading to frantic efforts to secure essential supplies, from food to toiletries.

Miguel Angel Fong, President of the Mexican Hotel Association, underscored the extent of the calamity, noting that a staggering 80% of the city’s hotels had incurred damage.

Desperate tourists, impatiently awaiting evacuation, took to traversing the city on foot, negotiating the narrow sidewalks through a lengthy car tunnel, bridging the divide between the port area and the rest of Acapulco. They clutched their suitcases, some even carrying young children, emblematic of the dire situation.

The Mexican government, in response to the crisis, deployed approximately 10,000 troops to address the disaster’s aftermath. However, the arrival of equipment required to clear the streets of tons of mud and fallen trees progressed at an agonizingly slow pace.

Among the heart-wrenching tales of tragedy, Flora Contreras Santos, a housewife from an impoverished neighborhood, beseeched soldiers for help in locating a 3-year-old girl swept away from her mother during a mudslide. Despite her pleas, the soldiers appeared immobilized, seemingly unable to respond adequately to her anguished cries.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made a road journey to Acapulco following the hurricane’s devastating impact. However, the ordeal was far from over, with at least four individuals still unaccounted for, and uncertainty surrounding the fate of the 3-year-old girl remained.

President López Obrador disclosed that Otis had annihilated every power-line pole in the affected zone, leaving a substantial portion of the city without electricity. With half a million homes rendered powerless and Acapulco’s municipal water system incapacitated, the restoration of power became an urgent priority. Yet, as Thursday evening descended, a quarter of a million homes and businesses continued to endure the darkness.

Vast expanses of brown floodwaters extended across certain areas, prompting residents to requisition essential items from local stores for their survival. Regrettably, some took advantage of the situation to engage in widespread looting.

As sporadic cell phone signals began to return, residents organized themselves through online messaging platforms such as WhatsApp. They shared images of submerged neighborhoods, sought information about missing loved ones, and exchanged names of survivors sheltering in various locations.

Juan Pablo López, separated from his wife by the storm, established an online chat to pool information with friends and family in Guerrero state, home to Acapulco. The uncertainty about his wife and newborn son weighed heavily on him as he strived to connect the pieces of information circulating among the chat’s members.

The surreal became the norm in this storm-ravaged city, with residents emptying stores of their contents. In the midst of this upheaval, the outlook for Acapulco’s recovery appeared bleak, with estimates suggesting it could take a year to rebuild. Challenges abounded, from the absence of power and gasoline to limited cell coverage and extensively damaged hotels.

While some remained optimistic that the crisis would compel the government to take action and revitalize Acapulco, the city’s commercial and military airports remained severely damaged, impeding the resumption of flights. President López Obrador expressed intentions to establish an air bridge to facilitate the influx of essential resources.

Once a magnet for Hollywood stars, renowned for its nightlife, sport fishing, and cliff diving shows, Acapulco had, in recent years, grappled with violence stemming from competing organized crime groups, precipitating a decline in international tourism.

In this dire hour, Acapulco stands as a symbol of resilience, as its residents band together to navigate the formidable challenges posed by the aftermath of Hurricane Otis.

[End of Article]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Otis aftermath

What was the impact of Hurricane Otis on Acapulco?

Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm, had a devastating impact on Acapulco, claiming the lives of at least 27 people and causing widespread destruction. It left the city in chaos, with beachside high-rises stripped of walls, hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity, and residents struggling to secure basic necessities like food and toiletries.

How did the government respond to the disaster in Acapulco?

The Mexican government deployed around 10,000 troops to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Otis. However, the response faced challenges, with equipment to clear the streets of mud and fallen trees arriving slowly. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited the city, emphasizing the priority of restoring power, but a significant portion of homes and businesses remained without electricity.

What were the challenges faced by Acapulco residents in the aftermath of the hurricane?

Acapulco residents confronted a multitude of challenges, including looting of stores, limited cell phone coverage, and damaged hotels. Many were separated from their loved ones, leading to efforts to connect through online messaging platforms. The city’s commercial and military airports were severely damaged, hindering the resumption of flights.

How did Acapulco’s history and recent developments contribute to the crisis?

Once a popular destination for Hollywood stars, Acapulco had experienced a decline in international tourism due to violence stemming from organized crime groups. This decline in tourism, coupled with the hurricane’s impact, created a complex crisis, with some hoping that it would compel the government to revitalize the city.

What is the outlook for Acapulco’s recovery?

The recovery in Acapulco is expected to be a lengthy process, with estimates suggesting it could take up to a year to rebuild. Challenges such as the absence of power and gasoline, limited cell coverage, and extensively damaged hotels need to be addressed as part of the recovery efforts.

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