In more than 70 years the people of San Marcos, Guerrero, have never seen a storm like it.
Not even when Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel struck was there such a tragedy as that of Hurricane Max on Thursday, said Caros Villasana, who had watched the rapidly rising river near his home sweep away two of his neighbors who had come to help him repair a wall that was being damaged by the water.
The wall fell and both were carried away. One grabbed a tree trunk and survived but the second disappeared in the current. The man’s body was later retrieved two kilometers downstream; he is one of the hurricane’s two fatalities.
Villasana lost everything to the water — containers of corn, a refrigerator, a bed, a brand new washing machine and even his 12 pigs. He and his neighbors said they had never seen so much water or winds so strong.
Max touched land Thursday afternoon about 4:00pm as a Category 1 hurricane and left more than 1,500 homes damaged, hundreds of towns flooded and without communications, crops lost, highways closed, 400 people displaced and a region in paralysis.
There were fears that the hurricane would touch down with full force on the city of Acapulco, but instead it tore along 130 kilometers of coastline between Barra Vieja, south of Acapulco, and Copala in the Costa Chica region, destroying what it could.
Worst of the storm was felt from noon on when the winds picked up and began tearing roofs from houses, knocking down trees and overflowing rivers.
By four o’clock, when Max made landfall between San Marcos and Cruz Grande, the region was a mess and hundreds of residents had become victims. Poor farmers were poorer than before, highway access was cut, and so was electricity and telephone service.
Many travelers were left stranded after slides and sinkholes closed sections of federal highway No. 200 between Acapulco and Pinotepa Nacional in Oaxaca.
The worst stretch was between Cruz Grande and Copala, where at least one bridge was severely damaged.
As of yesterday, Civil Protection officials were estimating that Hurricane Max left 3,000 victims in five municipalities in Guerrro alone.