Mexicans evacuate as hurricane looms

2013-10-22 09:03
An image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Raymond. (File, AP)

An image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Raymond. (File, AP)

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Acapulco - Authorities moved hundreds of people from isolated mountain communities and low-lying shore areas as a strong Hurricane Raymond loomed off Mexico's already storm-battered southern Pacific coast.

Guerrero state Governor Angel Aguirre urged people to stay off the streets, roads and highways on Tuesday because of potentially dangerous rains from the Category 3 storm that meandered offshore.

"The phenomenon's behaviour is completely erratic, completely unpredictable," Aguirre said on Monday night.

Although forecasts predicted Raymond's centre wouldn't come ashore, the storm still threatened to push heavy rains over the soaked region, which sustained widespread damage in September from floods and landslides set off by Tropical Storm Manuel.

There were no reports of torrential rains on Monday, but sporadic rains fell in some parts of the state and some streets flooded in soaked Acapulco, where city workers reinforced roads with sand bags. In the nearby town of Coyuca, a bridge was closed to traffic as an already swollen river began spilling over its banks.

Authorities in Guerrero, where Manuel caused about 120 deaths, set up 700 emergency shelters after the storm sprang up Sunday. Schools in most coastal communities west of Acapulco, including Zihuatanejo, were kept closed.

Flash floods

The US National Hurricane Centre said the hurricane had maximum sustained winds of about 195kph and was creeping north at 3.2kph. The storm's centre was about 137km south-southwest of Zihuatanejo early on Tuesday.

Forecasters said it was expected to follow an erratic path over the next day, possibly getting closer to the coast, then turn sharply westward and head out into the Pacific on Wednesday.

Zihuatanejo officials went door-to-door in hillside communities warning residents about the risk of flash floods and mudslides, but nobody had voluntarily evacuated to the three shelters set up in schools and athletic facilities, municipal fire-fighter Jesus Guatemala said. Tourists continued to stroll through town in light, intermittent rains.

Forecasters said that even if Raymond stayed offshore as predicted, the storm could dump anywhere from four to 12 inches of rain over Guerrero and Michoacan states, and cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides along the south-central Mexican coast.

About 50 dams in the area were over capacity because of Manuel, and officials were releasing water to make room for the expected rainfall.

About 10 000 people in Guerrero already are living away from their homes a month after Manuel inundated whole neighbourhoods and caused landslides that buried much of one village. It left behind drenched hillsides that pose serious landslide risks.

A hurricane warning was in effect from Tecpan de Galeana, up the coast from Acapulco, north to the port of Lazaro Cardenas. A tropical storm warning was posted from Acapulco to Tecpan.

Read more on:    mexico  |  natural disasters  |  floods

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