Hurricane Diana Passes, Leaves Mexican Coast Town a Wreck
TUXPAN, Mexico (AP) _ Hurricane Diana was well inland and appeared to be blowing itself out Wednesday after wrecking this coastal oil town of 120,000.
Mexico’s National Meteorological Service said Diana, now downgraded to a tropical depression, was over Central Mexico heading west, but could still cause heavy rains there and as far south as the Valley of Mexico.
Tuxpan had long been lucky. The hurricanes that sweep the Gulf of Mexico always seemed to veer away and spin north toward Texas. ″It was as if we had divine protection,″ said Mayor Perecles Namorado.
The luck ran out Tuesday when Hurricane Diana smashed this city head-on with winds estimated at up to 120 mph, killing at least two people, injuring eight and leaving thousands homeless.
Two other fatalities were reported in the Veracruz area to the south.
High tides and flooding in Veracruz, Tampico, Tuxpan and elsewhere forced thousands to flee.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center near Miami meanwhile reported that a tropical depression gained strength off Africa on Wednesday and headed toward the Azores as tropical storm Edouard. It is the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through the end of November.
Tuxpan was cut off from the rest of the world when Hurricane Diana peaked. Telephone lines to the outside were down and radio contact was lost.
Mayor Namorado said power was cut, partly to prevent danger from downed power lines, which ran through smashed roof tiles, tree trunks and bent sign boards in the darkened streets.
Downed trees surrounded the bandstand in the city’s Benito Juarez Plaza.
The mayor said more than 4,000 houses in Tuxpan were damaged too badly to occupy.
Police Commander Jorge Ramos Mundo said a 12-year-old girl died when a power line fell on her home and a 52-year-old woman was killed by a collapsing wall.
Thousands of Tuxpan residents returned home from shelters at daylight Wednesday to find their houses smashed or damaged.
″Everything is drenched,″ moaned Alejandra Castan, whose wood slat house lost its corrugated metal roof. ″We didn’t have time to remove anything.″
″We had confidence in Tuxpan that the hurricanes would never come,″ fisherman Bartolo Gomez said, and then waved toward wrecked houses nearby.
″Roofs began to fly. Trees fell. The lights went. We lost communication.″
Residents said the storm hit twice. In between, for about an hour, Tuxpan was in the eye of the storm.
″It was totally calm. There was no rain. There was no wind. The sun even came out,″ Ramos said.