Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Storm triggers evacuation of 2,000 in Yucatán; state of emergency in Campeche

Cristóbal is a tropical storm once more after it was downgraded Thursday to a tropical depression.

The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said at 1:00 p.m. CDT on Friday that the storm had strengthened, triggering a tropical storm warning for the Yucatán peninsula between Punta Herrero and Río Lagartos.

It was located about 60 kilometers southeast of Mérida, Yucatán, and was moving north at 19 kph.

The storm inflicted extensive damage and relentless rains across seven states in southeastern Mexico, where thousands took refuge in shelters due to the devastation. 

By Friday morning it was located south of Campeche and maximum sustained winds had dropped to 55 kph.

Yucatán Governor Vila wades through Celestún floodwaters Friday morning.
Yucatán Governor Vila wades through Celestún floodwaters Friday morning.

The storm affected 75 municipalities in seven states in the southeast, particularly on the Yucatán peninsula which has seen at least 65 centimeters of rain since the storm began. 

The NHC said Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca are expected to see more heavy rains — between 10 and 15 centimeters — through Saturday. 

Thousands of soldiers and National Guard members have been dispatched to affected areas and those still in the storm’s path. Thousands have been or are being evacuated to shelters. 

In Campeche, the governor is asking the federal government to declare a state of emergency after numerous highways and homes were flooded. More than 800 people are in shelters and damage to the hard-hit municipalities of Carmen, Escárcega, Candelaria, Champotón and Palizada is expected to be extensive. 

One person was killed by a falling tree in Chiapas, where the communities of Chicoasén, Bochil, Copainalá, Tecpatán, Ixtapa and Unión Juárez have all seen landslides and wash-outs due to the storm.

In southern Quintana Roo, the Mexican military is using two helicopters to airlift an estimated 450 people out of danger zones.

Yucatán, which is under an orange alert in some coastal regions and will continue to be battered by high winds and heavy downpours today, some residents have refused to leave their homes for shelters, despite the risk of flooding, as they are afraid of looting. 

Today Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal toured the shantytown of Celestún, also known as “Cartolandia” (Cardboardland), and went door-to-door pleading with residents to gather their belongings and move to shelters for their safety. Authorities were doing the same in the nearby port city of Sisal as they attempted to evacuate some 2,000 people in the area and bus them to five shelters in Mérida.

Cristóbal is expected to make landfall in the United States on Sunday, and flood watches are already in place in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. 

The storm formed on June 2 from the remnants of Pacific Tropical Storm Amanda, which battered Central America leaving at least 22 dead in El Salvador and Guatemala, and was the earliest named storm in the Atlantic ever recorded. The previous record was set in 2016 when Tropical Storm Colin formed on June 5.

Source: Prensa Latina (sp), Milenio (sp), Jornada (sp)

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