The extent of the devastation caused by Category 5 Hurricane Otis in Acapulco and southern Mexico has been captured in new satellite imagery.
Few cities in history have been subjected to a cyclone of Otis’s intensity; Acapulco has never experienced one. Its 165 mph winds and greater gusts were comparable to an EF3 tornado with a 30-mile width and slow motion.
Impact on Acapulco
As the sea surged inland, propelled forward by the storm’s winds, which shredded and tore away at Acapulco’s skyline, a minimum of 27 lives were lost.
Before Otis, the city’s numerous high-rise hotels and residences glistened hospitably in the tropical sun. However, these structures have since been reduced to twisted metal and mud-stained carcasses.
Challenges and Recovery Efforts
Jorge Laurel, former head of the Acapulco Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises, says 80% of hotels are severely damaged.
Laurel said, “This is a chaotic situation, a catastrophic scenario with incalculable losses.” “The entire electrical grid is either completely or partially destroyed, and there is no power.”
Otis’s unanticipated and extraordinary surge in strength, fueled by a warmer ocean, serves as a brutal illustration of the cyclones that, according to scientists, humanity can anticipate in a climate altered by pollution-induced global warming.
Furthermore, it caught many in Acapulco off guard; some remain missing. Melitón López went to the city on Thursday to find his daughter Fátima, who had not spoken since the storm.
“She informed us that she was on the bridge and that there was significant damage, with trees and building fragments falling,” López explained. “After that, we did not hear from her again.”
Laurel estimated that 40,000 tourists were in Acapulco before the hurricane, even though it was the off-season. A group of tourists reported that they sought refuge beneath a bridge for several hours amidst the raging storm, having been taken off guard while returning to their hotel by bus.
The occupants of this location, who are storm survivors, as well as the visitors who sought refuge here, secured their remaining possessions to their vehicles while in search of shelter, an exit, or both. Others walked to escape a city surrounded by trash, vehicles, a damaged airport, and closed roads.
Authorities in Mexico announced on Friday morning that Acapulco’s airport would be partially reopened to commercial aircraft departing from Mexico City to evacuate citizens and transport medical supplies to the city. They also stated that 270 buses would be dispatched to the area to assist with evacuations.
Laurel stated, “Acapulco requires a great deal of assistance; the federal government must devote its full attention to this. Reconstruction will take a long time; substantial investment is necessary; and there are numerous support programs.”
Aid distribution has been sluggish, and as time passes, people become increasingly frustrated and destitute.
“People are telling us they are not receiving assistance; they are not receiving food or water”. “They expressed that all they wanted was something to survive on.”