Tuxpan, Nayarit, wasn’t in the direct path of Hurricane Willa, a category 3 storm that slammed into the coast of southern Sinaloa Tuesday night, but it wasn’t spared from its destruction.
In fact, in contrast to expectations, it suffered the worst damage of any municipality in the small Pacific coast state.
Thousands of residents of Tuxpan — located more than 80 kilometers from the course Willa took — lost most or all their belongings as a result of flooding. The only fatality that has been reported as a result of Willa also occurred there.
Tuxpan police yesterday received a report that 77-year-old Moisés Landa Riva had drowned in floodwaters after torrential rain caused the San Pedro River to burst its banks.
Ramón López Calvillo, one of many Tuxpan residents facing a massive clean-up task following the storm, told the newspaper El Universal that locals were taken by surprise by the extent of the flooding.
“They told us three days ago that there was a risk; we’ve suffered from floods here before but never one like this. Everything was flooded in half an hour,” he said.
López explained while he worked that he was attempting to salvage family photos from his flooded home, declaring that “material things don’t matter but we’re not going to lose our memories.”
He and his family, like almost everyone in Tuxpan, took refuge during the hurricane on the second story of their home and remained there for 18 hours until the floodwaters receded.
A few blocks away, one home collapsed completely.
Arnulfo Jiménez, who lives on the street where the house fell, said that not only was his home damaged but he also lost his crops of beans, jicama and stevia.
Nearby, two police officers stood guard outside an Oxxo convenience store with windows broken by looters, their eyes red from not having slept for more than 24 hours.
“The worst thing is that people go in to steal cell phones, cables and cigarettes, not even food or water, which there is a shortage of everywhere,” one officer said.
Despite the widespread damage in the municipality, aid has been slow to arrive because response efforts in Nayarit have concentrated on Acaponeta and Tecuala, both of which border Sinaloa.
Nayarit Governor Antonio Echevarría said yesterday that more than 150,000 people in the state are estimated to have been affected by Willa, a figure much higher than initially reported.
He said that Nayarit authorities didn’t have the capacity to respond to the situation on their own and requested assistance from other states.
Some Tuxpan residents are skeptical that they will receive any aid that will help them to repair their homes and rebuild their lives.
“Tell them [the state authorities] to not even ask for resources from Fonden [the federal Natural Disaster Fund],” said one man who was attempting to dry his furniture under the sun.
“All that happens is a few people get rich and we won’t recover with the food aid and mattress they’ll give us.”
Source: El Universal (sp)