Amid the devastation wrought by Hurricane Otis in Acapulco, Mexico, hundreds of people continue their desperate search for loved ones they have not heard from in days.
The Mexican government’s official death toll, which stands at 27, has not changed since Thursday, according to Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval.
Residents in Acapulco find themselves grappling with the aftermath of the most powerful hurricane to hit a major metropolitan area in decades.
They face a multitude of challenges, from the emotional turmoil of hoping for news from their missing family members to the daunting task of unearthing their homes buried in knee-deep mud.
With necessities like food and supplies running critically low, many have resorted to emptying hurricane-ravaged stores.
Hurricane Otis made landfall in Acapulco as a devastating Category 5 storm, resulting in the loss of at least 27 lives and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Local media reports suggest there may be unrecovered bodies in the city and hundreds of individuals continue their search for missing loved ones they lost contact with during the storm.
Desperation is palpable among those awaiting news from their family members. Arturo Villalobos, who was separated from his wife and four young children during the hurricane, expressed his anguish at being unable to reach them.
Another resident, identified as Ricardo, lamented their lack of means to search for a missing relative, having lost everything in the disaster.
The hurricane’s heavy rains and fierce winds caused extensive flooding and numerous landslides, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of homes in some of Acapulco’s poorest communities. Approximately 80% of the city’s hotels also suffered damage.
Despite the devastating impact, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that, in terms of fatalities, the situation could have been much worse. The number of missing persons, still at four, according to Sandoval, remains unchanged.
Cellphone signals are slowly being restored, allowing hurricane survivors to reconnect with friends and family in other regions through online messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger.
People are sharing photos of flooded neighborhoods, tips for finding cellphone signals, and seeking information about their missing loved ones.
A Texas resident, Paula Romanos, received a WhatsApp message from her elderly parents in Acapulco, indicating they were injured and their apartment was destroyed.
With limited communication, they are in dire need of assistance, particularly for her father, who has Parkinson’s disease.
Efforts are underway to restore normalcy. The main federal highway in Acapulco has reopened for small vehicles, though not heavy trucks. The Acapulco airport, while partially damaged, is still operational and will facilitate the evacuation of survivors to Mexico City.
The Mexican government is initiating a census to assess each family’s needs, and plans are in place to distribute aid packages, transport medical personnel, and continue evacuations.
Despite the grim circumstances, some residents remain hopeful that Acapulco will recover, seeing the disaster as an impetus for the government to provide necessary support.
Antonio Esparza, among the optimistic few, believes that the adversity will ultimately lead to a brighter future for the city.