Initial reports on the impact of Hurricane Newton in Baja California Sur said damage was light, but that was before heavy rainfall took its toll.
In the community of Santa Rosalía, seat of government for the municipality of Mulegé, dozens of houses and vehicles were buried in rocks and dirt as a result of the torrential rains that accompanied the hurricane.
“It was a lot of water,” said Civil Protection director Jorge Martínez, “200 millimeters of water for eight continuous hours . . . .”
He said the worst problem for the community of 14,000 was the lack of potable water because of damage to a water line. The same thing happened during Hurricane Odile in 2014 when it took 10 days to restore water service, Martínez said.
Electrical power had been restored as of yesterday in most areas.
Martínez said other communities such as Heroica Mulegé and San Ignacio had also seen severe damage, and some remained cut off because access roads were impassable.
Meanwhile, the federal Transportation Secretariat (SCT) said yesterday that the Transpeninsular Highway had been cleared of debris between Loreto and San Ignacio.
SCT delegate Eleazar Gutiérrez Magaña said 20,000 cubic meters had been removed, but an estimated 10 million pesos will be required to repair the damages, he said.
The only deaths reported in the wake of Hurricane Newton were those of five fishermen.
Conapesca, the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission, has confirmed that five people aboard the shrimp boat Mariano Pérez X died. The vessel was traveling from Ensenada to Mazatlán when it was caught in the hurricane.
One report said the boat’s radio was not functioning so the crew was unaware of Newton’s approach.
The family of one of the victims has accused port authorities in Cabo San Lucas of refusing to allow the boat to take shelter. They claim they spoke by telephone with Esteban Inzunza Valenzuela, who told them they would try to get past the storm after being denied entry.
Different authorities offer different versions of what actually happened. The local naval commander said Navy personnel heard a radio conversation in which the Mariano Pérez’ skipper asked to be allowed to take shelter in Cabo San Lucas, but the port captain refused to allow the boat in, saying it was not a port of refuge.
The port captain says the boat did not ask for shelter and that the skipper had chosen not to stop. Another version of the story came from the state’s Government Secretary who said there wasn’t even a call between the boat and the port captain.
Newton made landfall Tuesday in Los Cabos as a category 1 hurricane with winds of 150 km/h.