Flood victims salvage their belongings from flooded homes in Tabasco. Flood victims salvage their belongings from flooded homes in Tabasco.

Storm leaves 6 dead, 600,000 people affected; Tabasco the worst hit

Damage was also extensive in Chiapas and Veracruz

Tropical Storm Gamma claimed the lives of at least six people in two states and affected some 600,000 citizens as heavy rain and near-hurricane force winds wreaked havoc on Mexico’s south and southeast over the weekend.

The worst affected state was Tabasco, where two people died and more than 590,000 people were adversely affected by the storm.

Federal authorities said there was one death in the municipality of Jalapa and another in Jalpa de Méndez. Both victims drowned in floodwaters.

Authorities in Chiapas said that four members of the same family, including two children, died after a landslide buried their home in San Juan Chamula.

In Tabasco, 593,150 people were affected by flooding, Civil Protection authorities said on Sunday night. More than 80% of those affected live in Centro, the municipality where state capital Villahermosa is located.

A beach toy came in handy for these flood victims in Tabasco.
A beach toy came in handy for these flood victims in Tabasco.

But state Civil Protection chief Jorge Mier y Terán said that residents of 14 of 17 municipalities in Tabasco were affected by the storm. He said that 74 temporary shelters were set up across the Gulf coast state and that 4,595 people had taken refuge in them.

In Chiapas, 543 homes across 35 municipalities were damaged, said José Elías Morales Rodríguez, emergencies director with the state Civil Protection service. He said that two schools, more than 300 roads, two bridges and water infrastructure in the southern state also sustained damage.

National Civil Protection chief Laura Velázquez Alzúa said that a total of 131 temporary shelters had been set up in Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracruz. She said more than 11,000 homes, the vast majority of which are in Tabasco, were flooded as a result of heavy rain.

The tropical storm made landfall near Tulum, Quintana Roo, on Saturday with maximum sustained winds of almost 110 kilometers per hour (km/h), just 9 km/h below hurricane force levels. It also brought heavy rain to parts of the Yucatán Peninsula.

The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday morning that Gamma was 255 kilometers east-northeast off the coast of Progreso, Yucatán, and that it was expected to make landfall again on Tuesday along the northern coast of the peninsula.

It said that Gamma is drifting toward the south-southwest at about 4 km/h and that flash flooding is possible in the state of Yucatán.

Citizens in Tabasco flee the flooding.
Citizens in Tabasco flee the flooding.

The NHC said that a turn toward the southwest or west-southwest is expected by tonight and that the same general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday morning. On the forecast track, the center of Gamma should move inland over the northwest coast of the Yucatán Peninsula Tuesday night and remain inland through Thursday, it said.

“The maximum sustained winds are near 75 km/h with higher gusts,” the NHC said. “Gradual weakening is forecast, and Gamma is expected to degenerate to to a post-tropical remnant low on Wednesday. Dissipation of the low should occur on Friday.”

Source: Milenio (sp), Associated Press (en) 

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