Hurricane Agatha made history as the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall during hurricane season in the eastern Pacific in May, tearing up roofs and plowing roads before fading into southern Mexico on Tuesday.
The storm hit Oaxaca on Monday afternoon as a strong Category 2 hurricane with maximum winds of 100 mph (165 kph), then quickly lost strength as it moved inland through the mountainous interior.
The remains of Agatha were heading northeast Tuesday into the state of Veracruz, with strong winds of up to 45 km/h. The US National Hurricane Center said the storm should dissipate by evening, but warned that the system’s torrential rains still posed a serious flood threat in southern Mexico.
Oaxaca’s governor, Alejandro Murad, told local media that the state’s emergency services had not received any reports of deaths. Several communities near the coast remained without power on Tuesday, and many state highways were closed by mudslides.
The Tonamica River, which flows through the city, floods San Isidro del Palmar, a few miles off the coast.
The inhabitants fought in the deep water to the neck to save as many things as possible from their homes, walking cautiously with piles of clothes on their heads and religious figures in their arms.
Argeo Aquino, who had lived in the city all his life, could not help but remember two other occasions when he saw such floods.
“The houses are completely flooded, so they’re taking everything out,” Aquino said Monday as he watched his neighbors. “There are shops and houses. Above all, we should try to memorize all the good, because everything else fades away.”
The brown water in Tonameca reached the windows of parked cars and minibuses used for local transportation.
Nearby, torrential rain and high winds have battered the beach town of Zipolite, known for its shirtless beach and bohemian vibe. Silvia Ranvagni, manager of the Casa Kalmar Hotel in Zipolite, said the wind blew for about six hours on Monday.
“The wind was very loud, noisy,” said Ranvagni. “It started at 1pm when phone reception broke down and didn’t calm down until 7.30am.”
“Lots of trees fell and roads were washed away,” she said. Many metal and straw surfaces were blown off.”
Founded on Sunday, Agatha quickly rose to power. It was the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the eastern Pacific in May, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and founder of Weather Underground.