Mexico was on high alert on Friday, as the country braced itself to take on hurricane Patricia, as 325 kilometer winds looked set to sweep across the west coast of the country.
In a storm which was rated level 5 in accordance with Mexico’s national hurricane risk ratings, hurricane Patricia was blown up into a media frenzy of epic proportions, as across the country people prepared themselves for the worst.
Yet despite being right in the eye of the storm, which had been beginning to form over the Pacific since Tuesday, Mexico escaped remarkably unscathed.
“The storm moved quickly when it reached land, around 35 kilometers an hour, hence heavy rains didn’t stay long enough in certain areas to cause as much damage as we have previously seen from hurricanes passing over Mexico.” Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground, told Mexico’s Televisa.
Eye of the storm
Despite meteorology predictions, Mexico’s larger cities escaped the path Patricia.
While this is good news for the big-city residents, those living in rural areas whose homes made up the 3,500 partially destroyed by the storm or the 500 hectares of farmland damaged by Patricia, it’s a different story.
In Jalisco state alone, some 8,280 hectares of crops – of which some 2,000 were corn and around 1,000 consisting of other grains – were damaged by the storm.
“There are hurricanes and storms every year, we are used to it. But this one scared us.” Felipe Ruiz, a pharmacy owner in the Manzanillo municipality commented.
“Many of us here lost trees and banana crops. Those gave us work, but what’s going to happen to us now?” Leopoldo Robles, a mango producer told BBC Mundo.
The outcome could have been a lot worse on a human scale, as in the case of hurricane Gilberto in 1988, leaving some 200 dead in the tourist honeypot of Cancún. A quick response and evacuation program removing residents and tourists from the popular resort Puerta Vallarta, and the coastal states of Jalisco and Colima meant that there were no deaths.
“The population responded, hotel owners responded, ships responded… If we hadn’t had this response, we would have seen other incidents,” Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary of Transport and Communication commented during a press conference.
Blown out of proportion?
Twitter users have hit back, claiming that President Peña Nieto created a political “weather weapon”, blowing the threat posed by Patricia well out of proportion, as quick response times and national aid serves to tick boxes in the President’s favor:
— Laura LaRue (@LaLaRueFrench75) October 26, 2015
Scare tactics aside, the clean up operation is slowly underway in Jalisco and Colima, as the police and army begin helping those worst affected.
However, the damage caused by Patricia will see small communities take months to heal, caught in the eye of a politically fuelled storm which continues to rage across Mexico.