Two People Dead, Three Injured, Other People Missing, Power Outages, No Water…what locals are seeing and saying about the third largest hurricane to hit Mexico, and how they’ve been pushing forward over the last week.
I was sitting in Mestizo Espresso and Bar (located on the corner of Allende and the Malecon) at 2:00am on Thursday October 12th. It had been over 24 hours since Hurricane Lidia, a category 4 storm with maximum winds of 220 km per hour, hit the town of Las Peñitas, in Tomatlán, Jalisco (123 km south of Puerto Vallarta) on Tuesday, October 10th. 3 days later we still didn’t have electricity in our house in El Cerro (above Centro) and the owners of Mestizo allowed me work from the bar while they hosted an Open Mic. After the night we'd had, I was grateful to be in one of my favorite places in Vallarta surrounded by friends. One of the members of the community asked me what I was doing and I explained that I was reading and writing about Hurricane Lidia for Vallarta Today. He proceeded to tell me about what happened to his house in Zona Romántica.
“My house was…”
He made an explosive motion with his hands and sound with his mouth while moving to show me a video of his house.
Every inch was covered in broken tile and debris, a bright blue sky with a few white cumulus clouds in the background was visible through the area where his roof should have been.
His house was destroyed.
“The good thing is we’re okay.”
That seems to be the general sentiment among most locals, a deep gratitude for being alive even in the face of devastating and challenging circumstances.
Another member of the community was on the street near the stadium in 5 de Diciembre and said he passed the time curled up in a ball trying to hide from the rains and winds…
“Wet, alone and cold…a friend gave me this,” he said, motioning to the shirt he was wearing.
“Lots of friends helping.”
Another theme that I’ve noticed repeated, this community comes together in times of crisis to help.
I followed up with Naomi De Acosta, co-owner of The Gusto Lounge (known as “The Gusto” by regulars) and The Beatnik PV, who I had interviewed before the hurricane hit, did pass the hurricane in The Gusto. She said,
“First time in an experience like this, thank God it didn't get any bigger. It was just the fright. In 5 de diciembre there is no water or electricity. A few paintings fell in both bars but everything was fine.”
In my follow up with Antonio Castillón, co-owner of Vallarta Vamonos, who I also interviewed before the hurricane, he shared,
“We put towels against the doors and windows in the middle of the storm. I lost phone service… No electricity or cell phone service at home, I came to the airport.”
And with that Antonio was back to work, ending his Wednesday giving extra rides from visitors arriving and leaving Puerto Vallarta.
Hurricane Lidia left Puerto Vallarta covered in broken trees, debris, mud and people hoping to clean up and move on as soon as possible. Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans. On Thursday, October 12, 2023, another storm (produced by the remnants of Lidia) brought major rains and flash flooding to the beautiful Mexico beach city. It caused canals and streams to overflow, which resulted in intense floods in different parts of the city. Many videos were circulating on social media of cars being dragged by the raging currents, and people banding together to help their neighbors escape buses and get to safety.
After the rains on Thursday, some colonias (neighborhoods) that had previously had electricity and/or water were now in worse condition than those who had previously been damaged by Lidia. Wednesday after Lidia, some people in Versalles had opened the doors to their homes and apartments to help people who were without power and in need of internet in order to work. Friday, those same people in Versalles were also without power.
CFE has brought in workers from other states in Mexico to Jalisco to help get the power back on in all of the impacted areas. While some colonias are still without power, and while power comes and goes in other colonias, Vallarta is slowly coming back online. Seapal put out a statement on their Facebook page on Sunday, October 15th that damages to the CFE network has put 15 of their water facilities out of operation. They are requesting that everyone in Puerto Vallarta ration their usage of water:
“SEAPAL urges the population to make rational and efficient use of water and also the storage of it in the neighborhoods that already have supply, due to possible intermittency in the service in the scenario that currently occurs with electric energy. In the same way, the free service of pipes of the institution is available for those who require it at the number 073 or 322 226 9191.”
Let’s all be respectful of our water usage, and extra patient with our neighbors, as Vallarta works to get everything back together after being heavily impacted by the third strongest hurricane that Mexico has ever seen.