Hurricane Patricia was hailed as an historic and potentially catastrophic storm as it slammed into the Mexican Pacific coast with sustained winds of over 200 miles per hour. But despite the fears and warnings, the Category 5 hurricane made landfall the evening of October 23 just south of Puerto Vallarta without any loss of life or massive damage to critical infrastructure.
That being said, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto declared, “The first reports say the damage has been minor compared to a hurricane of this magnitude,” according to USA Today. “But we can’t let our guard down now.” As the Mexican people, law enforcement, and disaster response agencies assess the damage, a wary eye is being cast on the potential for further damage resulting from Patricia’s storm surge along the Mexican Pacific coast and flooding resulting from torrential rains along her path.
Residents in the area between the busy ports of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta—ground zero for Hurricane Patricia’s landfall—described strong winds and heavy rains on Friday night, but nothing they hadn’t seen before during a typical heavy storm. Power is out in several areas, trees and power lines are down, and several images of street flooding have been posted. Per USA Today, the coastal highway from Puerto Vallarta to Barra de Navidad, 140 miles south, was impassable due to mudslides as was the highway from Manzanillo, on the coast, inland to Colima, the capital of the state of Colima. Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, said they haven’t received reports of “major damage” to their infrastructure in Patricia’s path.
The majority of destruction occurred in smaller impoverished villages located between the two coastal population centers. According to the New York Times, many homes remained intact, despite the meager protective measures of tape and plastic tarps. However, some parts of people’s houses were blown away, and water caused considerable damage.
In the community of Chavarin, another of the small villages along the route north of Manzanillo, flooding was the major culprit. The Marabasco River, which flows beside the village, surged during the storm and claimed property and land. Diego Camacho, a 19-year-old living there, said the waters had swept away nine of his horses. Despite being visibly upset, Mr. Camacho shrugged when asked about the damage. “We have survived worse things,” he said.
Mexican authorities are crediting the successful evacuation of tens of thousands of residents and tourists along the Jalisco state coast for preventing loss of life thus far. Emergency crews will continue to assess and repair damage as the remnants of Patricia cross Mexico and head into already-saturated Texas.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.