Hurricane hits Mexico

Hurricane Emily hit northeastern Mexico on Wednesday morning as a Category 3 hurricane with 125-mph winds.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | July 20, 2005

Hurricane Emily hit northeastern Mexico on Wednesday morning as a Category 3 hurricane with 125-mph winds. The made landfall just before dawn near San Fernando, a town about 80 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although Texas was not in the direct path of the storm, residents along the southern coast boarded up their windows and piled sandbags around their homes. Some of them took refuge in shelters overnight.

Many response groups in the state had pre-positioned supplies and were waiting out the storm.

Residents of the lower Rio Grande Valley were being warned they could get 2 to 4 inches of rain from the storm - a welcome sight for at least some of the parched region.

Cameron County declared a state of emergency and Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered more than 200 National Guard members and several National Guard aircraft on standby to deal with potential damage.

Coastal storm surge flooding of 7 to 10 feet above normal tide levels with higher levels in bays accompanied by large and dangerous battering waves can be expected near and to the north of where the center makes landfall.

The state of Texas has pre-positioned emergency response teams and equipment in San Antonio, Austin, and several locations in south Texas, according to the state operations center.

The Salvation Army has pre-positioned kitchen trailers, mobile feeding units, pastoral care crisis teams and canteens. The Texas Baptist Men also pre-positioned 14 mobile kitchens. The American Red Cross was prepared to open shelters.

Both the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - along with many other response groups - reported they were monitoring the stormís track.

Five thousand people in Mexico's Tamaulipas state were evacuated on Tuesday afternoon, and up to 1,000 people were evacuated in the Mexican border city of Matamoros.

Yucatan hit hard

On Monday morning, Hurricane Emily roared across Mexicoís Yucatan peninsula as a Category 4 storm with 135-mph winds.

Some faith-based groups were on the ground assessing damages in the hardest hit areas. Although news headlines tended to focus on damage to resort hotels, preliminary government reports also indicated hundreds of local residents were left homeless by the storm. In the state of Quintana Roo alone, government officials estimated about 3,000 huts were damaged or destroyed.

Some of the worst damage on the Yucatan Peninsula was in Puerto Aventuras and in Tulum.

Emily left a path of death and destruction across the Caribbean earlier this week. The storm is the strongest hurricane to develop this early in the Atlantic season since record-keeping began in 1860.

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