CANCUN | Heavy gusts, streets flooded by torrential rains: Hurricane Delta that hit southeastern Mexico on Wednesday is closing in on the United States, leaving behind a wreckage, but no casualties.
According to the Miami, Florida-based American Hurricane Center (NHC), Delta has returned to the Gulf of Mexico and blows with gusts of up to 155 km / h.
As it advances through the Gulf of Mexico into the United States on Thursday, the hurricane “is expected to gain strength,” the NHC added.
The resort town of Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula in the southeast of the country, is littered with uprooted trees, electricity pylons on the ground. Many houses and buildings were damaged.
The same is true in the neighboring coastal towns of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, which remain without electricity after the hurricane passes at dawn.
In the evening, Delta was in the Gulf of Mexico, 45 km northeast of the city of Dzilam and 110 km northeast of Progreso, Yucatan, according to the National Water Commission (Conagua) .
But the effects of the hurricane, which fell from category 4 to category 2, continue to rock the region. Power lines, road signs and advertising signs were ripped off, AFP reporters observed.
“We have no notification (…) of deaths caused by this hurricane,” said Alberto Ortega, civil protection.
With winds reaching 175 km / h, the cyclone entered the Yucatan Peninsula near the town of Puerto Morelos, between the tourist resorts of Cancún and Playa del Carmen, according to the NHC.
Tourists at the shelter
Some 41,000 tourists who were in the state of Quintana Roo were quickly evacuated as the hurricane approached, according to a televised message from Governor Carlos Joaquin.
Many of these tourists admitted that initial fear of the storm had given way to anger at having been forced to evacuate.
“The hotel was solid, we could have stayed there,” Janet, a 67-year-old American who preferred not to give her last name, told AFP.
“We’re going to be here yet another night because the roads are closed. I have a flight to the United States tomorrow, like the other travelers, ”she added, visibly upset.
Roberto Cintron, president of the Hotel Association of Cancún, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres, told AFP that of the 41,000 tourists, 85% are Mexicans and the rest are foreigners, mostly Americans.
Several tourists have complained that they are not allowed to leave, especially as the airports are still closed.
“I live in Florida. There we have hurricanes all the time. And a lot of times we don’t evacuate because we have a solid build, ”says Steve Munich, a 60-year-old American.
“I told them, ‘it’s going to be fine, I’ll lock myself in my room,’ but they said ‘no, you have to go,'” he said. “Trapped with 4,000 people, it’s not much better than being in my room,” adds the American.
In Cancún, more than 160 shelters had been set up.
“We didn’t take advantage of the place. We came to relax with the coronavirus and spend some time in the great outdoors, ”said Jonathan Rogers, 30, from Mexico City to the Aquamarina Beach Hotel in Cancun.
Maria Alexandra Gonzalez, 34, a tourist from Costa Rica, was asked to board a bus with her 25-kilo suitcase and a hat she has never worn, as the rains have been continuous since arriving in Cancun.
“We didn’t get a lot of sun and that’s a shame. We weren’t able to go out or see any other place, ”she laments.
Record number of hurricanes
This situation is a further blow to Cancún and its surroundings, which had already experienced a dramatic drop in tourist attendance following the pandemic.
Tourism represents more than 8% of the gross domestic product of Mexico, the fourth country in the world most affected by the new coronavirus, with 82,348 deaths and nearly 800,000 confirmed cases.
Delta is the 26th named storm in an unusually turbulent Atlantic hurricane season in which several records have been broken. Due to the exhaustion of the list of expected names, meteorologists began to identify them using the Greek alphabet.