Hurricane Otis, a catastrophic Category 5 storm, made a devastating impact on Acapulco, Mexico, when it hit the Pacific beachfront city on October 25. In the aftermath, the toll of the disaster is surfacing, with nearly 100 people reported dead or missing, according to officials.
The governor of Guerrero state, home to Acapulco, released a statement on Monday, revealing that 45 individuals lost their lives, and 47 are still unaccounted for. Among the deceased, three were foreign residents from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Sixteen bodies have been recovered and returned to their families.
Experts were astonished by Hurricane Otis’s rapid intensification, with wind speeds increasing by 115 mph in a single day before landfall—the second-fastest rate recorded in modern times, as reported by the National Hurricane Center. NOAA noted that Otis holds the record as the strongest hurricane in the Eastern Pacific to make landfall in the satellite era.
Meteorologists and climate scientists point to warming oceans and the influence of climate change as factors contributing to such extreme storm behavior. Weather Channel meteorologist Richard Knabb emphasized the crucial role of warm oceans in fueling hurricanes, signaling potential trends for the future.
Survivors of the storm are grappling with the aftermath, recounting harrowing experiences. Rumualda Hernandez, a resident, shared her near-death encounter as floodwaters surrounded her home. Now left without clean water and with a house filled with mud, she reflects on the loss, stating, “We are left with nothing.”
Others in Acapulco echo the sentiment of widespread devastation. John, a restaurant owner, likened the scene to an apocalypse, expressing hope for a swift recovery despite extensive damage to buildings, businesses, and hotels. Local teacher Jesus Diaz lamented the hurricane’s impact, saying, “The hurricane took everything.”
Efforts to aid the affected residents are underway, with Mexican officials ensuring the delivery of water and fuel while working to restore electricity. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reassured the public in a press release, stating that essential resources will be provided promptly, including work opportunities, food, and water, with a commitment to restoring electrical service soon.