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Hurricane Isis Blasts Mexican Coast

September 3, 1998

LOS MOCHIS, Mexico (AP) _ Hurricane Isis slammed into the Mexican mainland early today with 75 mph winds and heavy rains, drenching Sinaloa state. Isis weakened to a tropical storm as it headed north along the Gulf of California toward Arizona.

At its strongest, the storm rocked trucks and blew down road signs, forcing authorities to close the main coastal highway. Hundreds of people were evacuated to shelters. At least one person has been killed and two were missing.

After blasting the Los Moschis region, Isis continued moving across land and was downgraded to a tropical storm. Its wind speed dropped to 55 mph, the U.S. National Weather Service in Miami reported.

At 8 a.m. EDT, the center of Isis was about 80 miles north of Los Mochis, the weather service said. It was moving north about 10 mph.

The government news agency Notimex reported that 2,500 people were evacuated to shelters in Baja California Sur state.

A few cars sent up a muddy spray as they pressed through water above bumper level in the streets of this city of 300,000.

Maria Florencia Pedroza, one of about 500 people who fled low-lying neighborhoods, said she went to a Red Cross shelter at a school when water started coming into her house.

Carlos Alberto Villegas used a bucket inside his concrete-block house in a seemingly vain attempt to bail out the lake of water that stood just below the seat of his new sofa. ``It came in so very strong that the house just began to flood,″ he said.

In the port city of Mazatlan, flooding was reported in 15 neighborhoods and the army was helping residents evacuate. Forty-nine shelters have been set up to provide evacuees with food, clothing and medical attention, Notimex reported.

Before dawn, a hurricane warning was in effect for a 260-mile stretch from Dolores to Punta San Gabriel on the east side of the Baja California peninsula and a 400-mile stretch from El Dorado to Bahia Kino on the mainland. A tropical storm warning was issued for a 300-mile stretch on the west side of the peninsula from Puerto Cortez to Punta Eugenia.

With Isis toward the west and Hurricane Earl in the east near the Florida coast, heavy rain fell in much of Mexico.

On Wednesday, Isis cut power and electricity on the Baja California peninsula amd forced thousands of residents from their homes.

One woman was killed and her husband was missing after they tried to cross a stream in Los Cabos on the southern tip of the peninsula, said Emigdio Suarez Aguilar, a civil protection official. The body of Josefina Espinosa Agundez, 48, has been recovered. Her husband is presumed dead.

Notimex also reported one man was missing after being swept away by floodwaters Wednesday in Jalisco state.

The hurricane center said 5 to 10 inches of rain was possible in the storm warning area, as well as on the mainland, and residents were warned to watch out for flash floods and mudslides.

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