Mexico City, Mexico — Forty hours after Hurricane Otis hit Mexico’s east coastline, the state of Guerrero has suffered tremendous damage. Disruption in critical infrastructures has left sectors of the population uncommunicated and without power, while the storm has resulted in 27 deaths and four disappearances.
According to Mexican authorities, the storm caught the country’s prevention systems by surprise since, in only 12 hours, Otis went from being a tropical storm to a phase 5 hurricane, the strongest in its category.
The hurricane broke into Mexican territory in the early hours of Wednesday morning, engulfing the city of Acapulco, the international tourist center of the state.
For an entire day, the federal government could not assess the damage caused by the hurricane. With communications down, the count of homes destroyed, deaths, and injuries was impossible to obtain. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made an emergency trip to Acapulco from Mexico City by car to attend to the natural disaster.
During the morning press conference on Thursday, the government was finally able to provide details on the level of destruction in the state.
Acapulco was the most affected by the storm, and according to the president’s report, most of the 27 deaths occurred in the tourist city. Moreover, three of the four missing are military officers from the Mexican Navy. Regarding the deaths reported in the aftermath of the hurricane, the president said, “Is what hurts the most.”
“What Acapulco suffered was very disastrous. The people took shelter, they protected themselves, and fortunately, there were no more disasters, no more loss of human lives. It is unprecedented in the country in recent times, not only because of the way it gained strength in such a short time, but the magnitude of the hurricane, how it entered with great force, as a category 5, and moved through the bay, where there is a larger population,” said the president.
The Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) has sent a task force to attend to the victims and begin the implementation of temporary shelters, in addition to outlining strategies to solve possible sources of infection and sanitary risks.
The team will be in charge of temporary shelters, food preparation centers, collection centers, water supply systems, water storage tanks for human use and consumption, drinking water distribution pipes, and medical units.
The National Coordination of Civil Protection issued a declaration of emergency for the region so the state would benefit from government funds for natural hazard emergencies.
More than 10,000 members of the National Guard were deployed in the state, while López Obrador announced that humanitarian brigades would carry out reconnaissance tasks to determine the number of people affected.