Mexico escaped with minimal loss of life as Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded, slammed into its Pacific coastline last Friday night.
Although there were initially no reports of any casualties, EFE stated on Sunday that two people were killed by a falling tree in the town of Tapalpa in the western state of Jalisco on Friday night.
The victims, who had been camping in the forest, were named as Andrea Fabiola Aldrete, 45, from Argentina, and María del Carmen San Miguel, 61, from Coahuila in northern Mexico.
That afternoon another four people were killed in a traffic accident on the highway between Guadalajara and Colima city, the respective state capitals of Jalisco and Colima.
The local authorities did not attribute that crash directly to Patricia but it did happen in an area ravaged by strong winds and 25 hours of rain that may have contributed to the accident.
Those casualties aside, Patricia caused significantly less damage than many had feared.
How did Mexico avoid worse damage?
Mexico “dodged a bullet” in that the relatively small eye of the vast hurricane made landfall in a relatively remote stretch of coastline in between the major port of Manzanillo and the popular tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta.
Having avoided the concentrated populations of those two cities, Patricia then bypassed Guadalajara, the nation’s second biggest metropolis, and began to dissipate after hitting Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.
Having reached record speeds of 200 miles per hour before making landfall, the category-five hurricane was soon downgraded to a tropical storm as it made its way inland.
Mexico’s government, which set up about 1,780 shelters for more than 240,000 people in the vulnerable coastal region, was also widely applauded for its swift and effective action, which helped to limit the number of casualties.
However, there was still some significant damage in some of the smaller communities dotted along Mexico’s Pacific coastline.
Small coastal towns among the worst hit
As many as 150 homes were flooded in the town of Cihuatlán, Jalisco, after the crocodile-infested local river burst its banks, although no casualties were reported there.
Crops in the surrounding fields were also badly damaged, with entire banana plantations destroyed.
“Local agriculture has been wiped out. Many people make a live from growing bananas but the palms have all been flattened,” taxi driver Guadalupe Garibay told Latin Correspondent.
The highway from Guadalajara to the port of Manzanillo was scattered with fallen trees and rocks from minor landslides, while some small coastal villages suffered losses of power and damages to homes.
“No one was hurt because we took refuge in the shelter but many homes and stores were hit by trees, including mine,” Jesús Rodríguez told Latin Correspondent in the village of La Central, Colima.
“There was mud and water flowing into our homes. It was really bad,” added Chuy, another resident of La Central.