Hurricane lashes Yucatan; Texas watches and waits

Powerful Hurricane Emily lashed Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula on Monday with 135-mph winds, while disaster responders in southern Texas monitored the storm and prepared.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | July 18, 2005


Powerful Hurricane Emily lashed Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula on Monday with 135-mph winds, while disaster responders in southern Texas monitored the storm and prepared.

Thousands of tourists in the Mexican resort area were evacuated to shelters. The worst damage appeared to be some 60 miles south of Cancun, according to preliminary government reports. The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that Cozumel had been one of the worst-hit areas.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) was among the faith-based groups assessing damages in Mexico. Stan DeVoogd noted that there is flooding in Mexican cities but, on the positive side, the hurricane's rains could relieve some drought conditions. "We are reminded that during the past year, Mexico has been gripped by drought that resulted in the loss of crops and cattle," PDA reported. "The rain from Hurricane Emily will ease some of these conditions."

DeVoogd has been in contact with the four presbyteries affected by the hurricanes: Juan Knox, Norte de Quintana Roo, Caribe, and Peninsular. Assessments are being conducted to determine the degree of damage and needs for assistance. Concrete-constructed homes suffered little or no damage, DeVoogd reported.

The storm weakened from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 2 storm, but forecasters warned it would re-strengthen as it moved out over the Gulf of Mexico.

Emily could make a second landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday in northeastern Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Although Texas could be spared a direct hit from the storm, response groups on the ground there were preparing.

Brownsville, Texas, could be one of the closest points in the U.S. to the storm’s landfall.

The Texas Baptist Men was among several faith-based relief groups and interfaith long-term recovery committees in the state that were warily watching Emily’s track.

“Right now it looks like the storm will track a little away from us,” said Dr. Charles Price, director of the San Antonio Baptist Association. “But we are prepared. We’ve trained about 300 people to respond to disasters. And if there is little damage in our state, we could well go to Mexico.”

Crews from the Texas Baptist Men deploy their rapid-response trailers capable of providing hot meals for thousands of people daily at a disaster site. Often through an agreement with the American Red Cross, the Texas Baptist Men can be deployed within hours after a disaster strikes.

Baptist Men’s teams are currently on the ground in Florida - along with crews from many other faith-based organizations - responding in the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis there.

No casualties were immediately reported in Yucatan, but the storm has killed eight people across the Caribbean - five in Jamaica, two helicopter pilots in the Gulf of Mexico, and one in Grenada.


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