Although the storm (a cyclone according to the Baja Satellite Weather report) never reached hurricane status, the cyclone sat over the water, funneling the water out onto the land. The storm did support winds of 65 to 70 mph, which drove torrents of water and mud sideways into businesses and homes. The official report as to the magnitude of this flooding stated we received only six inches less rain than Hurricane Harvey in Houston!
The residents in the squatter areas (which are all in arroyos—God-designed run offs from the mountains to the sea and ocean) had many tragedies. The official death count cited seven fatalities, but the count from our friends in the barrios is over 100.
The enormous amount of water carried away houses, belongings and anyone who chose not to evacuate. Cars, semi-trailers, large equipment and everything else imaginable were also carried away—some as far away as the Sea of Cortez at Medano Beach. Lower Caribe was completely washed flat. This coming Saturday, we will be participating with Pastor Carlos’ churches in distributing food and clothing; followed by an onsite, evangelical service in Lower Caribe.
A four-story government housing apartment building—only three-years-old—collapsed on the highland just north of Tierra y Libertad. Fortunately, there were no fatalities in that tragedy. Another high rise government housing building−built by the same company−collapsed in the outskirts of San Jose (both had reportedly poor site preparation and little-to-no building repairs following Hurricane Odile).
All of Pastor Carlos’ churches remained intact, including the church at Tierra y Libertad (purposely built in an arroyo to minister to the people there). Pastor Carlos’ faithful crew had two days’ notice before the storm and stacked up several rows of sand bags. After the storm, the site actually looked better than before since the dust-covered red roof is now red and shiny again. Cabo Church’s Feeding Station in Tierra y Libertad was also totally unaffected by the raging water.
Overall, the water was so deep it went over the bridge over the arroyo on Highway 1 near the soccer stadium where the Carlos Annacondia Crusade was. The force of the flow actually bent the guard rail along the highway and left dirt and debris blocking the highway and retornos (side access roads). The dirt left under the bridge after the water subsided was so deep, even a short adult could not stand upright.
We learned that the ‘apron’ on the arroyo at the ocean actually included the property on which the RIU Palace and Santa Fe are built, the country club, and many small businesses. The new Chevy Dealer had just relocated in the area since Hurricane Odile. One of our neighbors who has lived here many years made a very interesting remark, “Water has a memory.” When the waters come, they take the same route time after time—no matter which business and whose homes have since been built there. On Sunday morning, one quiet, polite soul at Cabo Church, who grew up here, was talking with me and just happened to share that Los Cabos traditionally didn’t have this type of devastation from flooding because everyone knew enough not to build in the arroyos.
The RIU hotels were reportedly filled with four-feet of mud and water, along with many other hotels and businesses. The Chevy Dealership’s new building suffered much damage and their inventory of new cars floated away. The San Jose Airport, being farther from the Sea of Cortez and not in a flood plain, was untouched. CFE (our electric company) was able to start restoring power beginning Saturday and there has been plenty of drinking water available due to the short recovery time.
Our own home only had a minimal amount of water blown threw the windows and our dirt road only washed out up near the top (where it does for most rains). We even had power and internet by Saturday afternoon. Walmart opened quickly and Costco was able to open by the beginning of the week.
I would like to wrap up with just a few insights:
- Los Cabos was a small fishing village thirty years ago and the rich and famous landed on a dirt runway to fish in the second best bill-fishing area in the world. The government wisely developed the area with huge, hotels and tourist attractions, which flooded the area with various kinds of revenue. In order to attract a large workforce for these businesses, people from all over Latin America were allowed to live, without cost, in the arroyos. Government housing has since been built, but many people prefer to stay in the “free land.” You can discern the issues involved.
- Large hotels and businesses have been allowed to build on the flood plain area near the beaches and highway (including the Walmart area). The businesses are responsible for their own infrastructure and repair, but it is difficult to be surprised at damage caused by storms such as Lidia in an area that gets its rain from the effects of tropical storms.
- Corruption in government is still one of Mexico’s biggest problems. Many of the after-storm conditions and casualties I’ve reported are the results of very large bribes for building and use permits (or for ignoring the need for a permit altogether), building locations, too few inspections, favoritism in issuing contracts, etc.
- One last point is that Los Cabos suffered a drought lasting approximately nine years (prior to August of 2012). In 2012, the Lord answered the prayers of His people with abundant rain, which has continued since. Many, especially newcomers, either do not know the traditional weather patterns of Los Cabos or have become careless during the drier years. Those who were raised here or have lived here for a long time are not surprised, since storms are the way we receive our needed rains (we do invite you to pray for storms that bring rain—without damage).
Since we know many of you are praying both for us and for the area, please pray for solutions to the insights I’ve shared above from living here for five years, as well as from reading The Mexico Daily News email (in English) on a daily basis.
Blessings to all of you. We really would not be here without you!