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Families Flee as Hurricane Otis Brushes Mexico

October 02, 2005|From Associated Press

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — Hundreds of families fled their homes and heavy rain caused flooding along the main streets of this resort city Saturday, as Hurricane Otis skirted the coast of western Mexico.

The Category 1 hurricane weakened a bit, but still packed 85 mph winds as it crawled north, about 140 miles west of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. Rain and strong wind lashed the area.

Forecasters expected Otis to skim past Cabo San Lucas and move ashore along a sparsely populated stretch of desert far north of here as early as this evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Narciso Agundez, governor of Baja California Sur state, sent emergency personnel to the community of Comondu, as well as tourist destinations Loreto and Mulege, closer to where Otis was likely to hit land. He also asked soldiers to help evacuate the islands of Magdalena and Margarita, off the coast of Comondu.

In Cabo San Lucas, things were normal around the hotel zones, but Mayor Luis Armando Diaz led voluntary evacuations that removed families in the city's poor outskirts, many from homes that were little more than wood and metal shacks.

Civil protection authorities said nearly 700 families had gathered in schools and other government buildings in Cabo San Lucas and that more than 200 families had been evacuated in San Jose del Cabo, to the northeast. There were also small-scale evacuations in Miraflores and Santiago, a little farther north.

Mexico declared a state of emergency to cope with heavy rains in five communities.

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