Pleas for Aid and a Scramble for Supplies in Acapulco After Hurricane Otis
The tourists were bused out of Acapulco to find relief as far away as Mexico’s capital. But thousands of residents were left behind to deal with the chaos and destruction of Hurricane Otis, which had turned their paradise into a wasteland.
Three days after the Category 5 storm came ashore in Mexico, residents on Saturday were navigating streets coated in broken glass, uprooted trees and fallen telephone poles. People throughout Acapulco were searching ransacked stores for water and other sustenance. Others were using amateur radio to try to find loved ones. And many were pleading for basic resources from Mexico’s leaders.
“The government is not helping,” said Roberto Alvarado, 45, after arguing with a military sergeant giving out just one box of food and four bottles of water to each household.
Mr. Alvarado said that was not nearly enough amid the level of desperation that had prompted people in Acapulco to loot grocery stores.
“They loot because they want to eat,” he said. “Not a single store is open to buy food, not a single tortillería.”
Otis, the most powerful hurricane on record to hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast, unleashed hours of terror, shocked meteorologists and government officials with its intensity, left the city effectively isolated from the outside world and killed at least 39 people, including 29 men and 10 women, according to Mexican officials on Saturday. The number of people missing rose to 10, according to Rosa Icela Rodríguez, security secretary. Residents expect the death toll to rise.
Those who survived the storm — 850,000 people had called the city of Acapulco, in Guerrero State, home before the hurricane — questioned how long it would take for their government to provide basic resources, let alone rebuild. Others asked whether any other precautions could have been taken to avoid the widespread destruction.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who briefly visited the scene, has promised his nation an effective response to the hurricane. Approximately 10,000 armed forces were deployed to the area, and some were seen on Friday shoveling debris from streets and marching down the beachfront’s main avenue in an overt display of the government’s response.
Military planes carrying food and water began landing on Thursday at an air force base, taxiing to a hangar damaged by the storm. Trucks carrying military and National Guard officers traversed neighborhoods to distribute aid to each household; officials said they were rationing supplies.
As of Friday afternoon, the military had received more than 7,600 boxes of food and over 11,000 liters of water at the air base in Acapulco, and more was on the way, said Lt. Karina Sánchez of the Mexican Army.
A civil protection official said he had bused more than 140 tourists out of Acapulco to the city of Chilpancingo, more than 60 miles north, and to the nation’s capital, Mexico City, usually five hours away. But the roads were jam-packed with vehicles, and the journey most likely took much longer.