A car is left half-buried in mud following the passage of Pauline. A car is left half-buried in mud following the passage of Pauline.

In Acapulco people back in high-risk areas

20 years after Hurricane Pauline, 15,000 families live in vulnerable areas

Twenty years after category 4 Hurricane Pauline struck the port city of Acapulco, Guerrero, people have moved back to the same high-risk areas that were battered during the storm, which left 400 people dead or missing.

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The cyclone struck on October 9, 1997, wreaking havoc in Acapulco, destroying over 5,000 homes and leaving 10,000 homeless.

Thousands of people were without power and water for days on end, and traffic was severely affected in as much as half the city due to road damage and slides.

Two decades on, Civil Protection chief Sabas de la Rosa Camacho acknowledges that “the areas that were affected by the [1997] rains . . . have been repopulated.”

In the aftermath of Pauline the people that had lost everything in those highly vulnerable areas were relocated. Now, some have returned to the same places, while others found land adjacent to watersheds, creeks and ravines better than nothing and settled. Municipal authorities have done nothing to prevent the settlements.

De la Rosa Camacho told the newspaper Milenio that the main areas catalogued as highly dangerous in Acapulco include a watershed known as La Sabana and the hillsides, ravines and creeks that surround the city proper.

He believes that at least 50 neighborhoods, where an estimated 15,000 families live, are located in such high-risk areas.

During a religious and civilian ceremony of remembrance yesterday Acapulco Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre said “prevention protocols have been strengthened, providing a safety plan for the public” since Pauline struck.

It remains to be seen how the high-risk areas would cope under the new protocols should there be another Pauline.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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