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Hundreds flee Baja as Norbert barrels through

It hits Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, uprooting trees, taking off roofs and bringing knee-high water.

October 12, 2008|From the Associated Press

PUERTO SAN CARLOS, MEXICO — Hurricane Norbert swept across Mexico's southern Baja California peninsula on Saturday, tearing off roofs and forcing hundreds of people to flee flooded homes.

It hit land near Puerto Charley on Baja's southwest coast as a Category 2 hurricane, but weakened to Category 1 after emerging over the Gulf of California, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Norbert was expected to reach mainland Mexico before dawn today.

Baja residents fled to shelters in school buses and army trucks as floodwaters rose in their homes. Winds uprooted palm trees and the water rose knee-high in some streets of the town of Puerto San Carlos.

"We left our house because we were scared. Our house is pretty poor and the water was already coming in," said Maria Espinosa, 54, who arrived at a high school with her daughter and two grandchildren. They joined about 60 other people sitting on foam mattresses and blankets.

Streets turned into rushing, knee-deep rivers in Ciudad Constitucion, on the southern peninsula. Furniture, car parts and trash cans floated down the roads, which were deserted except for a few police patrols and a soaked dog on high ground.

More than 2,000 people were in the city's shelters, many of them from coastal villages where nearly all homes had lost their roofs, said Miguel Arevalos, the local Civil Protection director.

"We came here because our roof is gone, the wind ripped it off," said Luis Mesa, 39, taking shelter at an elementary school after fleeing his village of Pueblo Nuevo. "They said on the radio it was going to get really ugly."

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