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Update On Hurricane Dean From His Path

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It is 11:00 PM here in Bacalar. It is still quiet although a rain has begun. There is a quality in the air and the humidity that recalls Bogart, Bacall, Edward G. Robinson and Lionel Barrymore in Key Largo. Anticipation, perhaps a touch of fear and resignation — the preparations were done and now the wait to see that it was done well.

State & municipal leaders continue to warn more energetically of the danger coming. It is now a cat 5 storm, “Red Alert”, with sustained winds of 260 km/hr which is 160 mph — sufficient to destroy buildings. They are warning of a direct hit on Chetumal or the north part of the Laguna Bacalar.

Weather.com gives me more confidence and projects landfall of the eye tomorrow morning around Felipe Carillo Puerto some 50 miles up the road. Carillo Puerto is a very small city that was the center of the Caste Wars of the Maya against the Spanish/Mexican colonials of the haciendas who were growing very affluent on the trade in hemp for ships’ rigging during the 18th & 19th centuries.

It is the gateway to the Si’an Ki’an Biosphere, the home of a growing group of Maya learning to make crafts, and a place hoping to be included in the tourist, eco-tourist industry that has not totally reached it yet. It has charm and it has many people living in less-than-secure dwellings.

I don’t want Dean to roll directly over me but I don’t want it to destroy others. I cannot influence the monster from his path. It is now being called a monster. President Calderòn is returning from Canada to oversee the aftermath.

Even at this stage of the night there is still question of where Dean will land and how much water will precede him in the storm surge. However, it is clear that he will be landing here or near here.

The Weather Channel has a good collection of maps including one projecting wind damage. I am in the yellow near the red line. On the line but not, as was just said on state tv, in the bulls-eye.

It now seems that the high winds will hit about 3AM. It shows not to believe rumors. An earlier text message warned power would be cut at 7PM. It wasn’t.

After the Wilma experience that cost billions the authorities are trying to avoid pulling a New Orleans. The Secretary of Tourism is already talking of how quickly the tourism industry can be brought back in the aftermath.

I will miss the Internet when it goes. Facing this behemoth of a tempest alone in a soon-to-be-dark house with the sound of the wind raging and the water rising in anger will not make for the most relaxing night. Time to buy an iPod so I could be washed away to the sound of Bach. Then a digital camera to collect some pictures of the fury or the aftermath without having to take them to a lab. Time again to face what the world sends, grin, and bear it.

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About hfdratch

  • Clavos. Thanks for the warning. I am actually in New York after a long train journey from Miami (planning an article for BC on train travel) but watching Felix which is now (10PM Monday) headed for Nicaragua, Honduras (Roatan & Utila are probably endangered) and there is a warning for the entire coast of Belize.

    That means I am worrying for my house in Mexico but it is being cared for and guarded. The damage from Dean left mine unscathed (save for the garden) but damaged or destroyed many structures in the area.

    Thanks for the heads up. Shortly I return to Miami for medical stuff and will watch for whatever meteorological phenomena come to find me there too.

  • Clavos


    I’m sure you’re already preparing, but I just wanted to let you know that the NHC here in Miami is forecasting a track for Felix very similar to Dean’s as far as the landfall in the Chetumal/Belize area is concerned, though it will probably track a little farther south than Dean did.

    In any case, it’s a very nasty storm, take care.

    Hang onto your hat, my friend!

  • Dean came and blasted away at us. It was a direct hit on the village of Bacalar a mile away. The eye passed over at category 5 and destroyed much of the village. It looks like the aftermath of a Ken Burns Civil War film. Most trees are downed or sheared off. Most power poles were snapped, blown down or the wires and transformers thrown around. Lines are down everywhere.

    The military has set up a field kitchen in Bacalar and Pres. Calderone and the state governor Felix Canto have visited promising quick assistance. I tuned into the local (terrible) news channel with my generator going just in time to see the president handing back an infant to its mother with the universal look of a politician obliged to handle babies.

    Today we cut back the tree blocking my drive and I negotiated the rest of the fallen trees to the federal highway where traffic is moving. I am in the city of Chetumal which was hit but not as hard. There is a block or two with power and phone. Most cell phone towers are standing but their antennae look well beaten. Service is sporadic and usually ¨emergency only¨. Stores and banks are damaged. Police, military and service workers are headed for Bacalar and Mahajual in convoys. I have not heard reports from the little villages inland in the jungle. I have heard, amazingly, no reports of deaths.

    I had a long report prepared for BC: minute by minute as this behemoth of a storm rammed through, the feelings of fear for the unlimited power of it. But it is on my trusty Mac and I am struggling with a (gasp)ancient pc in an internet cafe.

    We began preparing for Dean 7 years ago when we bought the house, added wood shutters over all the sliding glass doors and windows, installed a generator connected to the electrical system, cut the large tree too close to the house, etc. It paid off when the worst case scenario came to visit.

    I was a cub scout and refused more due to my problems with authority. However, there is a moral to this story:

    Be Prepared.

    To Candy. We are called the Costa Maya a bit south of the Riviera Maya. You should not change your plans because of Dean. He grazed the northern tourist zones with some damage but not massive.

    Clavos. Thanks. Puerta Maya is on the coast due east of us. Dean was the worst storm here since 1954 when one (name I have forgotten) destroyed the then small city of Chetumal and hit Bacalar. I hope not to repeat this experience. Thanks for everyone´s thoughts.

  • candy garland

    how is the gulf? Is there erosion? I am going to Riviera Maya at the end of September? Should I change my plans?

  • Thanks for the post as you’re keeping the rest of us on the other side of the world updated. Your country and its people are in our prayers.

  • Clavos

    God bless and keep you, Howard.

    I hope all has gone well for you.

    According to the National Hurricane Center, Dean came ashore near Puerto Maya with official wind speeds of 145 Kts., making him the first Category 5 storm at landfall since Andrew in 1992.

    Please post a follow up and let us know how you are when the power comes back on.