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SHAKE AND BLOW
Hurricane flattens Mexico homes, but major disaster averted
By Jennifer GONZALEZ COVARRUBIAS
Chamela, Mexico (AFP) Oct 24, 2015


Torrential rains cause Texas floods, train derailment
Austin (AFP) Oct 24, 2015 - Torrential rains created transit mayhem in the US state of Texas on Saturday, including a train derailment and scores of canceled flights at one of the nation's busiest airports.

Flash flood or flood warnings were in effect for major metropolitan areas, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio due to a deluge that began Thursday.

Officials in Navarro County said it had received several reports of over 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in the past 24 hours.

It was in this county that a freight train was swept off the tracks and partially submerged some 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Dallas when passing over a bridge along a creek, local broadcaster WFAA reported.

A spokesman for train operator Union Pacific said the conductor and engineer were able to save themselves by jumping out of the locomotive when the water starting rising.

"They swam to some high ground there," Jeff DeGraff told WFAA. "They're wet, but in good condition."

Dramatic aerial footage from the scene showed the locomotive and some of the train cars lying on their side in floodwaters.

According to flight tracker FlightAware, some 100 flights were canceled at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

In Austin, meanwhile, heavy rain meant that a final free practice session ahead of the Formula One US Grand Prix race took place in front of empty grandstands at the Circuit of the Americas. Organizers earlier announced the circuit was to remain closed until noon.

Friday's action at the circuit was hit by heavy storms with lightning that endangered track staff resulting in a damp and desultory opening free practice and the cancellation of the second.

The rain was not expected to taper off for some time, forecasters warned.

"Very heavy rainfall is expected to continue on Saturday across portions of the southern Plains, especially southern and eastern Texas," the National Weather Service said.

NWS forecasters said heavy rains were expected to sweep into southeastern Texas from rich Gulf moisture and the remains of the former Pacific hurricane Patricia, which slammed into the western coast of Mexico Friday as a power Category 5 storm before dissipating into a tropical depression.

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
Mexico City (AFP) Oct 23, 2015 - As colossal Hurricane Patricia threatens Mexico's Pacific coast with a potential catastrophe, here is a look at past named storms that have devastated the Latin American country:

JANET

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.

MEXICO

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.

BEULAH

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.

LIZA

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.

GILBERTO

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.

PAULINE

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.

WILMA

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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Previous Report
SHAKE AND BLOW
Patricia grows into major hurricane threatening Mexico
Mexico City (AFP) Oct 22, 2015
Fast-moving Patricia grew into an "extremely dangerous" major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding. The US National Hurricane Center said "preparations should be rushed to completion" as Patricia increased ominously from a category two to a category four storm in the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale. Packing ... read more


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