Hurricane Grace hit eastern Mexico with torrential rains on Saturday, causing severe flooding and mudslides that killed at least eight people, authorities said after it became one of the storms the most powerful in years to hit the country’s Gulf Coast.
Grace was blowing maximum sustained winds of 201 km per hour (125 miles per hour), a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson five-stage scale, when it struck the coast near the resort town of Tecolutla in the state. from Veracruz in the early morning. .
The state government said eight people were killed by Grace, including six from the same family. All but one of the victims died in the state capital, Xalapa, including a young girl killed by a mudslide that hit her home, the government said.
Meanwhile, an adult has been killed by a collapsed roof in the northern city of Poza Rica, Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia said at a press conference.
“The state of emergency is not over,” he added.
Small fishing towns and seaside resorts were inundated with rain when Grace made landfall for the second time in the country in two days.
Fishermen hauled their boats out of the water and hauled them inside ports to avoid damage as the leading edge of the storm lashed the coast, while merchants barricaded the windows of their businesses for them. protect.
Local television showed severe flooding in Xalapa, with coffins from a local business floating in a flooded street. The nearby Actopan River burst, causing a local highway to close, state officials said.
Grace also caused blackouts and knocked down trees. Images posted on social media showed damage to buildings and cars overwhelmed by the downpour of rain caused by the storm.
Garcia said several rivers in Veracruz would be inundated and urged locals to take shelter.
TV footage also showed flooding in Ciudad Madero, in the southern state of Tamaulipas, near the Veracruz border. The Francisco Madero refinery of the Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is located in Ciudad Madero.
Mexico City International Airport said some flights were canceled due to the hurricane. The national electricity company, Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), has reported that 565,000 electricity users have been affected by blackouts.
Grace weakened as she moved inland, but the National Hurricane Center warned of a dangerous storm surge – when seawater is pushed above its tidal level normal – when the hurricane struck.
At 7:00 a.m. CDT (12:00 GMT), it was a Category 1 storm with peak winds of 150 km / h (90 mph). The center was about 100 km (60 miles) east-northeast of Mexico City, the Miami-based center said.
Before Grace reached dry land, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged residents of five states to seek refuge in the heights.
“I ask the inhabitants of the regions of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to take refuge in high places with relatives and in shelters that are being set up,” Lopez Obrador said on Twitter.
Me sumo al llamado que estÃ¡ haciendo de pedir a la gente de la region de Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis PotosÃ, Tamaulipas e Hidalgo que busque refugio en partes altas con familiares y en albergues que estÃ¡n instalando.
– AndrÃ©s Manuel (@lopezobrador_) August 21, 2021
Thousands of civil protection, military and CFE rescuers were ready for Grace, he said.
Until Sunday, the NHC predicted Grace would dump 150-300mm (6-12 inches) of rain over parts of eastern and central Mexico, and up to 450mm (18 inches) in some areas. The heavy rainfall would likely cause areas of flash and urban flooding, he said.
In Tecolutla, residents spent hours on Friday afternoon bringing hundreds of boats ashore to keep them safe.
âHere in Tecolutla we have had a culture of prevention for many years,â said Ricardo Pardinas, who offers boat trips to tourists. âThese meteorological phenomena caused damage.
Veracruz and its waters are home to several oil facilities, including the port of state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos in Coatzacoalcos and the Lazaro Cardenas refinery in Minatitlan in the south of the state. Grace made landfall far north of these towns.
The hurricane is expected to weaken to a tropical storm on Saturday afternoon, the NHC said.
Earlier in the week, Grace pounded Mexico’s Caribbean coast, chopping down trees and causing power outages for nearly 700,000 people, but without killing, authorities said.
The hurricane struck early Thursday near Tulum, a Yucatan resort famous for its Mayan ruins. Some families have spent arduous hours in the shelter of cracked trees and flying debris.
As the storm approached, Carlos Gonzalez grabbed his baby boy and ran away from his home with his wife to a school shelter, using the light on his cell phone to navigate his way through the streets. dark streets.
âThe only thing I have left is what I’m wearing,â the construction worker said. âI knew my house wasn’t going to take it because it’s made of cardboard. When the wind came, I was very scared and decided to leave.
No deaths have been reported, but many streets were blocked by fallen branches and trees that knocked down power lines, leaving thousands in the dark on Thursday.
It also sprayed Jamaica and Haiti, still reeling from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, with torrential rains.