Acapulco Devastated by Hurricane Otis
In the wake of Hurricane Otis, which recently struck the Mexican city of Acapulco, residents are grappling with the aftermath of the Category 5 storm, which tragically claimed the lives of at least 47 people while several others are missing. The disaster has left the city’s one million residents in dire need of assistance, with many struggling to find their loved ones and access essential supplies.
The Pacific storm rapidly intensified before unleashing its devastating fury upon the coast early in the morning of October 25th, taking residents and authority by surprise. The Mexican government has mobilized approximately 10,000 troops to handle the situation, but the arrival of equipment to clear the streets of debris and mud has been slow. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador personally assessed the devastation caused by Otis, highlighting the extent of the disaster. He mentioned that the storm had knocked down every power-line pole in the affected zone, leaving large portions of the city without electricity. However, by the time of this writing, power has been restored to large parts of the affected area.
Nevertheless, the Associated Press reports that, despite the government’s efforts, there’s a growing sense of frustration, as residents fear that the focus may shift towards repairing tourism infrastructure rather than aiding the most vulnerable. The report further mentioned that as the city struggled with limited communication and resources, residents began organizing themselves with the help of friends and relatives living in other parts of Mexico and the United States. They used online messaging platforms like WhatsApp to share information, photos of flooded neighborhoods, and tips for finding cell phone signals. These platforms served as lifelines for those concerned about their loved ones.
The situation in Acapulco has become increasingly difficult, as residents have been forced to resort to looting stores in the area. And while some have sought to find essential resources, there are concerns of theft of electronics and other non-essential goods. With the scale of the destruction and challenges ahead, some residents believe that it may take up to a year for Acapulco to fully recover. The city’s once-thriving tourism industry, which had already been grappling with issues related to organized crime, faces a long road to recovery.
Otis’ impact showcases a concerning glimpse of the effects of climate change and the increasing destructive nature of hurricanes. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, higher ocean temperatures lead to a higher rate of evaporation, thus charging clouds with more water and increasing the strength of rainfall and decreasing wind speeds, hence leading to stronger and slower hurricanes. Moreover, the rise of sea levels is linked with an increase in the severity of storm surges, and recent hurricanes like Laura and Dorian have intensified closer to landfall, just like Otis.
Hence, apart from providing immediate assistance required for the thousands impacted by Otis, this hurricane serves as a poignant reminder that global decision-makers and leaders must adopt proactive measures in mitigating climate change because its effects are no longer a prediction but a tragic reality.