[IMG: Hurricane Mitch approaching Honduras on 1998 October 26, 13:15 UT.; Credit: Dennis Chesters, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Craig Mayhew, and Hal Pierce, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Caribbean Hurricane Page

Updates from the Islands
Mitch - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

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Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 17:23:42 -0800
From: John Pastore (venture_out@xoommail.com)
Subject: Re: Cancun Mitch Update

Hello Everyone,

The plaza which I operate out of has been reopened and
we have gotten our own computer equipment functioning.

Nevertheless, please refrain from sending any further
email to my apexmail address. While trying to access it
myself, the address is periodically closing for
technical service and it may become necessary to flush
the whole lot. I do intend to wade further through the
posts there, and respond, as the additional time-outs
permit. The xoommail address is, now, only for further
communications with the weather sites, and for those
who intend to arrive to Cancun. It has, for example,
taken me four hours to get this post out.

Now that I can communicate from my own computer again
though (the last post did come from the Municipal
Palace), I can relax somewhat; and I will compose a
less hasty post (even check my lousy spelling)
tommorrow as tommorrow will better tell if the threat
of Mitch approaching Cancun and area is in fact
subsiding or not. Marching around looking for i-net
connections which were not so overtaxed to still
function the last couple of days did become fatiquing.

Meanwhile, from the few posts I have been able to
access I think it now important to express the

Skies cleared for the majority of today though clouds
again gathered at nightfall.

Concerning the posts of how people might be able to
assist by being physically present:

Cancun (knock on wood) was threatened and not hit. I
would suggest to wait for further reports from further
south, particularly Swan Island and Honduras' Bay

In any event and if Hurricane Gilbert's aftermath is
any lesson, even the most burly construction types
capable of fending for themselves not only pale in
comparison to the Mayas' ability to endure and labor
but also become more of a burden than a help. The Maya
are built like midget Sumi wrestlers and I've seen even
the scrawniest of them pick up 50 horse power outboard
engines, throw them on their shoulders like a bag of
groceries and walk blocks with them. They can do so day
after day on, unfortunately, nothing more than a daily
ration of a few tortillas and beans, and it is that
kind of labor that is needed in a hurricane's aftermath.

If you want to be of help, wait on the news of which
locales need any help. Upon such news, avoid government
agencies for final arrival by (religious or not) going
to your closest church and obtaining addresses of
churches in the area you wish to assist. You can then
send items to them which will travel well and light in
airline cargo areas via regular post. Items should be
water purification tablets, dehydrated food, rice and
beans, fishing line and hooks, mosquito repellent
coils, t-shirts, flip-flops and comic books in Spanish
if for Honduras, and English if for Belize.

The very best help however, is to simply arrive as
tourists to those areas to be tourists. Nothing else is
more encouraging, productive, helpful, appreciated and
needed. Hopefully, however, the news will be positive.

Regarding the inquiries concerning Maya blockading the
road south of Cancun. I did hear second-hand that there
were spotty radio reports here that Mayan workers
brought in from Chiapas for a new hotel's construction
in Playa del Carmen did blockade the road and fight
with police. It appears that all they wanted was
shelter or bus tickets to return homeward.

Thank you all for your well-wishes and until tommorrow,

John Pastore
Venture-Out Cancun
El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx

Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 12:54:30 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture_out@xoommail.com) Subject: Re: Cancun Mitch Update Hello All, Woke up to a sunshiny day which is persisitng. There is practically no breeze and seas are calm though cloudy from sand put astir. Little if any dismantiling of hurrican protection is being done though. While it appears that Mitch is stalled, people here are remaining wary. Too many have memmories of after the shock of Gilbert's news and simultaneious appearance, Hugo arrived right on its tail. Later,... John Pastore Venture-Out Cancun El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 12:58:35 -0600 From: Craig Lashley Subject: Hurricane Mitch - Cozumel We just returned home from Cozumel where starting Monday everything (including the outside light fixtures) was removed from the resort and stored. Windows were taped and many boarded. The evacuation to town was scheduled if necessary and guests were asked to attend meetings on the hurricane situation and what the resort planned for the days to come. The satelite disc was removed, most likely so everyone wouldn't panic but was restored on Tuesday. Not a thing was going on Tuesday or Wednesday other than sitting around,eating, or watching the rain or TV. Tuesday we took a cab into town where the waves were coming over the breakwalls. Wednesday we went to the airport in hopes of getting off the island before we couldn't get off. Wed some of the roads to the airport were starting to flood over. Glad to be home, except we missed out on getting to snorkel and dive! Hope to return sooner than later.
John is back...he found a computer with internet access! -Gert Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 12:30:04 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture-out@APEXMAIL.COM) Subject: Cancun Mitch Update Courtesy of one of the few i-net cafes still functioning here: Woke-up to sunshine this morning after a night of the same stiff breezes. It was 50% overcast. It is now however 100% overcast. The reason why no one could reach the Cancun airport yesterday was because of the acitivity of local receptive travel agents whisking the tourists home -before the possibility and not after the fact. Without benefit of satelite imagery, it appears that Cancun is still at the norhtern edge of Mitch's revolving tentacles. Meantime, no one here is in any better position to know what the prospects are for Mitch approaching Cancun than anyone else tracking the weather reports particularly on the I-Net. While the plaza I was operationg out of yesterday was closed down, the Municpal Palace here as offered me access to their i-net connection for one or two "unofficial" reports . A spot check of Cancun's downtown last night shows that businesses are continuing to batten-down. The few tourists appear to be either staying on their own volition or are waiting to continue on their plans to Mexico City and the interior. It was also noticiable that no provisions were made for possible refuges for the locals. I will try to attend a meeting at the Municpal Palace this evening to address that point. Correction (Wed, 28 Oct 1998 12:40:51): Just been handed a list of refuges. Downtown hotels are now being setup up for any remaining tourists while the schools and churches are being readied for the local population. Meantime the weather here, though remaining ominous, is still not sever. "From the heart of the heavens it was Hurikan who first spoke" it was believed hereabout. Let's hope he gets laringitis real quick. Also please beware of congestion being created by incoming emails to any location in Cancun. Later,... John Pastore Venture-Out Cancun El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 14:57:03 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture-out@APEXMAIL.COM) Subject: Cancun Mitch Update Hello All, Started raining here with local predictions of very heavy rainfall commencing in three hours. The very 'inexperienced' security at the plaza where I help operate an I-Net cafe are closing down the plaza, and turning all electricity off a 6PM. The roof here is not substantial. The computer equipment is literally being removed out from under me by their equally 'inexperienced' owners. I'll be back in touch when I can. Cheers, John Pastore Cancun, El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx venture-out@apexmail.com Venture-Out = http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 14:36:51 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture-out@APEXMAIL.COM) Subject: Cancun Mitch Update - Just Reminicing As the eye of Hurricane Gilbert strove atop Cancun on Sept. 14, 1988, NASA made the following statistics official: Winds: 280-320 Km/Hr Speed: 24 Km/Hr Barometer: 890Mb Categoria: 5 This is how those statistics translated into reality: Regan had earlier threatened to bomb Libya, and, for the first time in the history of Cancun's low season, its hotels were not only full, but overflowing; and, while some say "no news is good news," by the time 1PM rolled around, it had become pretty obvious that the brewing storm was, itself, about to become, not very good, news -and, itself, a bomb. Of a sudden, the orders went out for all tourists (and employees) in Cancun's Beach Zone to leave their luggage behind and take themselves to the public buses and taxis which were made mandatorily free so as to whisk them to the nearby town on the mainland. By 3PM, the winds, which lasted three days and three nights (and the statistics of which did not count constant gusts): began to put concrete parabolic antennas to flight, topple cement telephone poles, put (in the just evacuated Beach Zone) solid concrete buildings atilt, strip any to their original frames (from their third floors up) and blow the total of their interior furnishings into a lagoon, and even as far as the nearly flattened airport. All, just before cutting its swath across the whole of the Yucatan peninsula to, among other things, collapse about half of its forest. Within no time at all, all power, communications and roads leading into Cancun from two hundred miles, or so, around were cut. The atmospheric pressure within the storm was so low that the sea rose fourteen feet (excluding waves). Ship crews, who thought they were at anchor, were surprised to feel thuds to only then discover that their ships had in fact been picked up and dragged for miles to be deposited on the landside of coastal roads (and after years of blowtorching and sawwing, it was only last year when the last of them was finally removed). [One of the ships, a Cuban shrimper, would later cause a bit of an international incident. Mexico demanded Cuba to pay for its being cut-up and removed from a posh condo complex. In the end, Castro simply 'donated' the ship to Mexico.] The sand of the beaches was stripped to be replaced by thousands of boulders the size of pick-up trucks which had rolled up from the sea floor. Erosion slid swimming pools and condos into the sea; and the height of the upwelling sea stripped what was left of the wind beaten buildings by flooding through their first two floors. Meanwhile the populace and visitors huddled in their mainland homes (many of which were thatched huts) and, then, few restaurants, hotels, their lobbies and hallways, and a few movie theaters and shopping malls. Food, water and sanitation, of a sudden, became scarce. There was no way that even people who had stores of food, and willing to share, could leave anyplace that was not Gibraltar Rock-Solid substantial. With the howling of wind and the mysterious knocking about of buildings, no one noticed the downpour of rain which quickly seeped through the porous limestone shelf that is the peninsula, but which later caused such damaging flooding in Monterrey and Texas. When, after the three days, the winds subsided enough for people to begin to step out of their hovels, store fronts were open to any kind of looting. There was none, though the army did not arrive until three days further. With no electricity, it was fortunate that many of the restaurants were chargrills. By the fourth night food was being cooked and served free of charge. That night's sky was almost worth the hurricane itself. Undimmed by artificial nightlights, and whose atmosphere had just been so throughly scrubbed, its clarity was astonishing. The Milky Way shed its light like a giant neon bulb, and the moon shown like a dark room's night light. Where the movie house sat in total darkness, the canopy above played star showers while spectators counted satelites. The lone strand of Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean Coast, which had been abandoned (perhaps by Hurikan) to the wilds so long ago by a population far more numerous and extensive than today's, had, even momentarily, returned to that wild. The airport became the first order of priority for emergency restorations. It was necessary to get the tourists home. It took two days before the field could accept only emergency flights. One airline accepted the challenge and repeatedly came loaded with the most novel assortment of hotdogs ever encountered, while again whisking tourists homeward. It took six days. When the last flight was about to leave and the airport would close for months for only the transport of construction material and food, I managed to slip onto the last flight free. Arriving to Miami, I also pulled a song and dance which got me to NYC free -and, all along the way, never did airline food taste better. Returning some six months later, hotel rooms were yet to be reopened. Visiting my Maya friends in the jungle they cried to see me (thinking I had been a victim of Chaac's [their Rain God's] wrath). They had fortunately survived, like their brethren, by burrowing into the numerous cave systems throughout the peninsula for the same three howling days and howling nights. Losing their crops and even seed stores, and watching their forest home burn for the collapsed wood made dry (for four years afterward), the Maya would soon flock to Cancun and begin the clean-up and a reconstruction that would equal its original construction. So, while sitting here, waiting to see if a storm approaching the magnitude of Gilbert decides to turn this way, one can't help but reminice, and also wonder if one is not in store for the same mean treat. Meantime, stiff breezes continue to blow under overcast skies. Cheers, John Pastore Cancun, El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx venture-out@apexmail.com Venture-Out = http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 09:14:15 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture-out@APEXMAIL.COM) Subject: RE: Re: Update from Cancun - General Interest Hello All, Questions coming in from prospective fathers and mothers-in-laws seem to require the following response: When Hurricane Gilbert hit here 10 years ago, Cancun was full of "Honeymooners". I had to placate them by joking around on how their honeymoons turned out to be "communal" ones. I would have to also placate them by asking them to look at the brighter side: "Look. If you can get through this together well, consider how well you are going to get through the rest of your lives 'together'." Many of those same Honeymooners, btw, returned the following year to do honeymoon again. Despite the disaster that Hurricane was, the humanity it ilicited was something not only to behold, but to (really) cherish for a life-time. Unlike many other cities, and though there was plenty of opportunity for it, there was, for instance, no looting. Quite the opposite. Restaurants, for example, couldn't give their food away fast enough. Meanwhile, if Mitch hits here or not, Cancun will probably be quite wet anyway. Later,... John Pastore Cancun, El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx venture-out@apexmail.com Venture-Out = http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 08:39:39 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture-out@APEXMAIL.COM) Subject: Cancun Update on Mitch Hello All, Upon arriving to the fishermen's suburb of Cancun, Puerto Morelos, 11 PM last night (to batten up), the news on the radio here announced that the Mexican army is to conduct a general evacuation of the Chetumal area. Chetumal is located about 5 hours bus ride directly south of Cancun on the border with Belize. Even if Mitch turns more northward, the announcement sounds like a good idea. Considering the reports of two-story waves reaching the Grand Caymans from a storm center 128 miles away, even if Mitch does turn to just brush alongside the coast on a northward track, Chetumal and area (which historically have been very vulnerable to hurricane damage) will not be safe areas to be. With the dissemination of such news, other areas also vulnerable, as where I live, are now being boarded-up and evacuated. Such announcements cannot help but motivate one to reminice on Hurricane Gilbert when all news (radio, newspaper, television, loud speaker, etc.) on the impending storm was blacked-out in Cancun until two hours before its arrival. I attribute the difference to the Internet itself which makes it impossible to keep such news from nevertheless 'leaking'. Meantime the night passed with steady brisk easterlys carrying low lying cloud cover but not much in the way of downpours (yet?). This morning the same continues. Again hopefully, Mitch stalls in its tracks and not hit Chetumal and area, or take a turn to cross the Yucatan Peninsula or shoot through the Yucatan channel. While hurricane alerts are nice, when such areas are so populated with people who can do next to nothing about it anyway (buy candles, water purifier, bus tickets, etc.), it would be nicer for Mitch to just go away. Already, the 'cold' downpours of two nights ago have probably flattened the Maya's standing corn crop on the Yucatan. Later,... John Pastore Cancun, El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx venture-out@apexmail.com Venture-Out = http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 12:22:12 -0800 From: John Pastore (venture-out@APEXMAIL.COM) Subject: Update from Cancun, Mexico Hello All, Been weathering Hurricanes here since the biggie: Hurricane Gilbert in '88. The weather here has been unusually abnormal here for, at least, the past year. Although no major storms last year, early last October it began raining and there were only about 5 clear days till the following January. Sudden and hazardous winds were characteristic of last winter -hazardous enough to drive as many as 12 cruise liners to port on one particularly eerie day. This October seems to have gotten off to the same start - plus- as of 2 nights ago when there was a torrential unusually 'cold' downpour. It was a good sign though in that the cold front it represented might act as a buffer to the Hurricane coming up from the south. The hope disippated last night when, under clear night skies and as, apparently, the leading edge of the low pressure system, nevertheless, moved in, the temperature changed abruptly to unseasonably warm. Right now it is warm, windless, partly cloudy and only very occasional short burts of showers -perhaps the calm before the storm. There was no 'red sky at morning' this morning. Perhaps that will occur tommorrow AM. Hoping Mitch stalls in its tracks, later... John Pastore Cancun, El Mayab (The Mayan Homeland), Mx venture-out@apexmail.com Venture-Out = http://members.xoom.com/Venture_Out

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