By Jennifer GONZALEZ COVARRUBIAS
Chamela, Mexico (AFP) Oct 24, 2015
Patricia flattened dozens of homes on Mexico's Pacific coast, but authorities said Saturday the record-breaking hurricane largely spared the country and weakened into a remnant low as it moved north.
The modest homes of 40 families in the fishing village of Chamela were blown away by Patricia's powerful winds after it made landfall as a Category Five monster in Jalisco state late Friday.
The families survived the hurricane because they evacuated to a shelter before landfall, which occurred just 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the south.
The villagers returned to pick up the pieces on Saturday and complained that the government has not provided any help.
"We have nothing. My property's gone," said Griselda Hernandez, looking at the space without walls or roof that used to be her home.
While the residents of Chamela lost nearly everything, most of the region breathed a sigh of relief and the authorities rejoiced that no deaths were reported.
"Maybe (the warnings) were exaggerated, but it's better to be warned," said Ruben Fregoso, a restaurant owner who reopened his business in the popular resort of Puerto Vallarta after the storm.
Seafront hotels were cleared of their guests in Puerto Vallarta before Patricia's arrival, while thousands of tourists were evacuated by bus or plane, many taken to shelters. But the town had little damage in the end.
- 'Kind-hearted nature' -
Forecasters had warned of a "potential catastrophe" after Patricia's winds peaked at 325 kilometers per hour Friday.
That was more powerful than the 315 kilometers per hour winds of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 dead or missing when it struck the Philippines in November 2013.
But Patricia struck with 270 kilometers per hour winds, slowing as it collided with mountains.
"So far, there are no reports of major damage from #Patricia. Our gratitude to all for your thoughts, prayers and actions #PrayForMexico," President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter.
Patricia tore down trees, triggered some flooding and caused minor landslides elsewhere in Jalisco and neighboring Colima state.
But soldiers began cleaning up streets, while regional airports reopened and highways were cleared of obstacles.
Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza praised the Mexican people for preparing well for the hurricane's assault.
"If we hadn't had this response, we would have had other incidents," Esparza told a news conference in Jalisco.
"We were lucky that the impact was diverted" to a mountain region that slowed down Patricia's winds, he said. "Nature was kind-hearted."
- Rain threat remains -
In Jalisco, which bore the brunt of the hurricane, some rivers rose, damaging a bridge and some 250 homes in one community of 600 people, said state government secretary general Roberto Lopez Lara.
"All the forecasts predicted the worst," Lopez Lara said. "We do not have any deaths."
In the major port of Manzanillo, Colima state, soldiers shoveled sand off the city's main boulevard while residents, some riding around in bicycles, surveyed damage that included uprooted trees and street signs.
"For being the most powerful hurricane in the world, I think we came out okay," said Cristian Arias, the 30-year-old owner of the seafood restaurant El Bigotes, whose balcony was broken and garage damaged by Patricia.
"It was a wave that broke everything and dumped sand on the boulevard behind the restaurant."
But authorities urged Mexicans to remain on alert as Patricia continued to produce rain on its path north, after drenching the south.
Almost 24 hours after Patricia made landfall, the US National Hurricane Center said it degenerated into a remnant low with 45 kilometers per hour winds.
But it warned that the "heavy rain threat" will increase Saturday evening across the northeast and into coastal parts of the US state of Texas.
Mexico's most devastating storms
The first Category Five hurricane to be recorded made landfall on September 27, 1955, in the eastern state of Quintana Roo, crushing wooden homes in the capital city of Chetumal and killing hundreds of people.
Until Patricia, it was considered the most powerful to have formed in the Pacific, a Category Five hurricane with 260 kilometers (160 miles) per hour winds. It smashed into the coast on October 29, 1959, near the port of Manzanillo, leaving more than 1,000 people dead. Patricia has 325 kph (200 mph) winds and is also expected to make landfall near Manzanillo.
It crashed into Quintana Roo on September 16, 1967, around the resort of Cozumel, then returned to the Atlantic where it regained force and reached Category Five power before slamming northeastern Mexico and the US state of Texas. Some 40 people died in Mexico.
This Pacific hurricane reached Category Four on September 30, 1976, before striking the southern part of Baja California peninsula. More than 1,000 died and the homes of tens of thousands of people were damaged.
The Category Five hurricane made landfall on September 14, 1988, on the Caribbean island of Cozumel before crashing into the Cancun resort. It returned to the Atlantic and then slammed into northeastern Mexico. The storm caused major flooding in the industrial hub of Monterrey. Some 200 people died, mostly in Monterrey.
Hurricane Paulina killed hundreds of people after making landfall on October 8, 1997, in the southern state of Oaxaca. Hours later, it moved into neighboring Guerrero state, producing record rainfall and a landslide. Hundreds died.
This erratic hurricane made landfall as a Category Four storm on October 21, 2005, in Cozumel and pummeled Cancun and the Riviera Maya for 48 hours. Eight people died while $10 billion worth of damage was caused in Mexico, especially in the tourist hotels. Looting followed the disaster.
MANUEL AND INGRID
Mexico was hit nearly simultaneously by Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid on both coasts in September 2013, a rare double landfall that left 157 people dead, including dozens who were buried in a mudslide in Guerrero.
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