Nov. 2, 2023, 5:54 PM UTC / Source: Reuters
ACAPULCO, Mexico — For the past week, 22-year-old Maria del Rosario Saravia has waited for news of her mother, two brothers and young son since she lost contact with them the night Otis, a Category 5 hurricane, devastated the Mexican coastal resort of Acapulco.
Saravia has been camped out on the Paseo del Pescador on Acapulco Bay desperately seeking news of her family after they were lost in the record-breaking storm that killed nearly 50 people and shattered livelihoods last Wednesday morning.
“We’ll be here until we have found our relatives,” she said, scanning the horizon for signs of her mother Maria Hilaria Delgado, 55, her 4-year-old boy Luis Alberto Lopez and brothers Luis Sebastian Herrera, 9, and Alejandro Marcelino Herrera, 31.
Saravia is one of dozens of people trying to locate loved ones since Otis slammed into Acapulco, severing communications and leaving the city of nearly 900,000 people incommunicado.
Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm, wreaked havoc on Puerto Marques, Mexico. Rodrigo Oropeza / AFP via Getty Images Authorities have been gradually restoring power and phone service, but food, water and cash are still scarce and thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed to help recovery efforts in the biggest city of the southern state of Guerrero.
Saravia said she last heard from her mother at 11.40 p.m. local time on Tuesday, shortly before Otis swept into Acapulco, capsizing boats on the city’s iconic waterfront, and ripping roofs and sidings off homes, hotels and other businesses.
Her mother, younger brother and son had been with her father, a fisherman and sailor, on his boat when the storm hit, sinking the vessel, she related.
“He said he had them, but the pressure of the water and force of the wind took them away from him,” she added.
Her elder brother, a boat captain, was on a separate vessel of which there has been no sign since the hurricane, she said. The missing relatives went to the boats because they had orders from their bosses to look after them, Saravia said.
“It’s a horrible feeling not knowing where they are,” she added mournfully. “We haven’t had any support from any authority either, from the government, nothing.”
The Mexican government’s civil protection authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A man walks past a damaged home and street in the aftermath of Hurricane Otis in Acapulco, Mexico, on Sunday. Felix Marquez / AP Authorities said Otis was the most powerful hurricane ever to strike Mexico’s Pacific coast. The storm gathered strength with unusual ferocity, wrongfooting initial forecasts.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at the weekend Mexico had been “lucky” the human cost was not greater, and on Wednesday launched a $3.4 billion rescue plan for the city.
Still, the number of people reported missing has been steadily ticking up, and authorities have so far given few details about the dead and injured in Acapulco.
On Wednesday, the Guerrero state government said 58 people were unaccounted for since the hurricane roared in.
Saravia is trying to remain hopeful that she will find her family.
“I hope to see them again soon,” she said.