Sunday, June 16, 2024

Hurricane Hilary leaves at least 1 dead and damage in Baja California

Hurricane Hilary, which was downgraded to a tropical storm before making landfall in Baja California on Sunday morning, claimed at least one life in Mexico and caused major flooding and significant damage in some parts of the Baja California peninsula.

The storm, which had been a powerful Category 4 hurricane, made landfall at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in the municipality of San Quintín, according to the National Meteorological Service.

Damage caused by Hurricane Hilary in Santa Rosalía
Damage in the Baja California Sur municipality of Mulegé caused by the storm. One man died in the flooding on Saturday. (GABRIEL LARIOS/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

There was heavy rain and strong wind in Baja California Sur on Saturday as Hilary moved northward parallel to that state’s western coast. Video footage filmed in the municipality of Mulegé showed floodwaters surging past homes.

In Santa Rosalía, the municipal seat of Mulegé, one man died Saturday when the vehicle he was traveling in with his family was swept away in a raging stream. His wife and three children were rescued, said Mulegé Mayor Edith Aguilar Villavicencio.

Some 450 kilometers north in Cataviña, the car of a 32-year-old woman reportedly working as an Uber driver was swept away in another overflowing stream. The vehicle was located but the woman wasn’t found, according to reports.

Scores of houses were damaged in Santa Rosalía, which is located on the Gulf of California coast of Baja California Sur. Governor Víctor Manuel Castro Cosío visited the town on Sunday and pledged to provide housing to 52 families whose houses sustained significant damage, according to a state government statement.

“Our commitment is clear: work together [with local authorities] to plan the necessary projects and actions to restore normality in … [Santa Rosalía],” Castro said on the social media site X.

Close to 2,000 Baja California Sur residents were reportedly evacuated from their homes to shelters set up by authorities.

In the neighboring state of Baja California, rain brought by Hilary flooded, caused landslides on or severely damaged 12 major roads, the newspaper Reforma reported. Federal Highway 2D between Mexicali and Tijuana, known as Carretera La Rumorosa, was among the roads closed. It was affected by landslides, Reforma said.

Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Ávila said in a video message Sunday night that Mexicali was one of the “most affected” municipalities. Flooding affected numerous streets and many homes lost power.

National Guard rescue operation in Baja California
The National Guard and other members of the military were deployed to the area to help with clean-up. (Guardia Nacional/X)

The Baja California government said in a statement on Sunday that the State Commission of Public Services in Mexicali had responded to 530 “emergencies,” including “situations such as broken pipes, flooding [and] cleaning of storm drains and manholes.”

Several traffic incidents, including ones in which vehicles overturned, were reported on Sunday in Tijuana, where heavy rain also flooded roads. Some injuries were reported, but there were no fatalities.

Over 200 people in Ensenada, Rosarito and Tijuana took shelter in government facilities, Reforma reported.

Isla de Cedros (Cedros Island), an inhabited island off the western coast of Baja California, was also hit by the storm. Navy personnel will take supplies to the island when weather conditions permit, del Pilar Ávila said.

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) reported that almost 380,000 customers in Baja California, Baja California Sur and Sonora lost power due to damage to infrastructure caused by Hilary. The CFE said Monday morning that electricity service had been restored for 80% of those affected.

Soldiers deployed to the Baja California peninsula before the arrival of the storm assisted clean-up efforts in affected areas.

Hilary reached southern California late Sunday afternoon, the first tropical storm to hit that state in 26 years.

With reports from Zeta Tijuana, El Imparcial and Reforma 

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