The hurricane-inflicted trauma suffered by the Mexican resort city of Acapulco has been compounded by looting and other crimes, with the Mexican military called in to restore order.
Hurricane Otis slammed into the Pacific beach town on Oct. 25 as a Category 5 storm after rapidly intensifying from a tropical storm. With maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour, the hurricane ripped through Acapulco, killing dozens of people, triggering flooding and mudslides, and causing extensive property damage.
The official death toll from the storm, the most powerful to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast in recorded history, now stands at 48, with another 36 people still reported missing. An estimated 80 percent of the city’s hotels were damaged in the storm, with some estimates putting the cost of recovery from the storm at $15 billion.
With power out, communication limited, and food, fuel, and water in short supply, some Acapulco residents have turned to looting for basic supplies; others have stolen electronics and other valuables. In response, the Mexican government has sent in 18,000 troops to provide security and provide relief.
Many homeless residents are staying in churches and other shelters, while others have fled the city. In a small bit of good news, the main road into the city has now been reopened, allowing for aid to start flowing into Acapulco.
For American tourists and others affected by the storm, the U.S. State Department is organizing evacuations by air and bus from the city. Acapulco International Airport has been reopened for emergency flights, but commercial service has been suspended.
Mexican Government Response to Acapulco Tragedy
The Mexican government convened a meeting on Oct. 27 to assess damage to Acapulco’s tourism sector and start laying the groundwork for reconstruction, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a press conference.
“We have to get Acapulco back on its feet as soon as possible, that is the general plan, to help the affected people and, at the same time, return to normality in terms of tourism,” said Obrador, adding that government assistance would be directed to hotels and resorts of all sizes to restore the jobs of tourism workers and rebuild Acapulco, which he called “a symbol of tourism in Mexico.”
However, Obrador said he could not offer any timetable on how long the restoration of the city would take.