Hurricane Odile hit Sunday night at roughly 11:45 p.m. According to mom and dad, the rains began earlier in the evening around 6:00 p.m. By 9:00 they thought the storm might be subsiding. They were hopeful the heavy rains were all that would hit them. Then, the storm itself hit.
They had already brought some things downstairs into the cement basement/garage. They were hoping a power inverter would provide electricity through the storm, but the battery died quickly and, once the storm got worse, some debris fell on the car. So, they took shelter in the office of the basement, which is bricked in and fairly secure – apart from one window and a few smaller leaks.
Once the storm hit, they heard the grill, which had been tied down, get picked up by the winds. They could hear glass breaking and things being grabbed, ripped off, and flung around in the torrent. They prayed, tried to get some sleep when possible, and held on in the office – God keeping the office window secure.
Around 4:30 in the morning, dad emerged from the office. The rains and winds were still heavy, but the hurricane had subsided some. Dad ventured out to check on the neighbors and the house wearing a motorcycle helmet and poncho. The neighbors were secure. The house was damaged beyond repair. The metal roof was gone. A wall dad had put in was gone. The front wall was caved in. The windows and sliding glass doors were all blown out. Even the cupboard doors were ripped off.
Later that day, whenever the rains would take a break, they would emerge to survey the damage. While the main area was totaled, they still had some belongings and the palapa, or guest room as we affectionately call it, was still intact. The palm-frond roof was secure, as were the glass doors. The rear wood door was gone, but otherwise, the room was intact.
Mom and dad were able to call at 4:30 that morning and later that day to update us and let us know they were physically unharmed, but had sustained significant damage. After that, the cell phone towers went down and we were unable to reach them until just last night (Thursday).
When I spoke to dad, he said they were busy trying to dry out what they could and were working on finding their friends and ministry partners to see how they were doing. They do not have any power. It is estimated 15 days before power is restored. They do have water.
Mom and dad went out with Pastor Michael and his wife, Laura, to survey the area and find their friends. They went into one of the squatter colonies and dad said it was scary. For the first few blocks, there was nothing – not a single building. Everything was gone. While some of these homes were made out of skids and tarps, others were built of plywood and cement blocks. Not one building remained in those first couple of blocks. Everything was destroyed, flattened to the ground. The only object standing was a cactus or two with clothes strewn about and stuck to it/them.
Large guys blocked the entrances and exits of every road. They were armed with machetes, baseball bats, and pipes. Why? The men were armed because of looting. With the power out and the storm damage rampant, people began to loot stores. They literally trampled people as they crawled through broken glass and took whatever they could get their hands on. Mom said people were literally walking down the roads with shopping carts full of items – and not just necessities, but everything… TVs, bikes, beer… You name it, they stole it. The police were present, but did little more than try to keep people in line and try to keep people from getting hurt. Dad later talked with some neighbors and discovered the police did so little because they did not have enough officers to confront the looting. They had to wait for reinforcement or fear death themselves.
With the looting and chaos so prevalent, the men in the squatter towns were arming themselves to protect their belongings and homes. They would stop any vehicles trying to get through (making sure they weren’t looters). Dad showed them his picture and ministry id and told them he was checking on churches, feeding stations and friends.
One friend, Pastor Miguel and his family, lost everything. The new church (one of Pastor Carlos’ church plants) was flattened. Dad said it might be able to be raised once again. His house, though, is gone, completely gone. They are planning on staying with mom and dad in the basement/office for now.
The police rolled in yesterday (Thursday), declaring martial law. No one is allowed out after dark. Wherever you are, that’s where you’re spending the night. There are now Marines on the corners and by stores. This is actually a good thing, as order is beginning to be restored. The storm was only half of the battle.
Mom saw other signs of order yesterday, too, as she saw some people returning to work, water trucks head out of the city to fill their tanks, and power trucks head into the area. She, along with Gabriel, headed to La Paz, two hours north, to find a store and get supplies. While there wasn’t any bread, tortillas or tarps left at Walmart, they were still happy to find some stores open and make purchases.
They have no plan to rebuild. They do not have the funds to do so. For now, though, they are making do in the palapa and basement, while working to help the area churches and ministries reopen.
While we would always pray for the storms to be avoided, we are all sure that God is in control and He has a plan. The people of Los Cabos need help and God is there. While we would never choose to suffer, what seems as an insurmountable situation may be the biggest blessing God had ever poured out on Cabo. We have been praying for revival. Do our requests come with stipulations? Must God do it our way? No! My parents have always prayed, “Your way, Lord.” Why we don’t always understand His ways, but they are secure, just as I am, that this is His way and He does have a plan and His intent is good.