Municipal officials stand next to the overflowing La Silla River in Monterrey,… (Kristian Lopez / Reuters )
Reporting from Mexico City —
Remnants of Hurricane Alex on Thursday raked northern Mexico with damaging winds and heavy rains, knocking out power to thousands of homes and causing floods that killed at least two people.
Alex, which roared in from the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, weakened to a tropical storm as it crossed the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon into Mexico's northern interior.
But high winds and torrential rain left much of the region without electricity or telephone service, forced schools to close and sent rivers over their banks in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon and Mexico's most important industrial city.
Monterrey authorities said two men died after being swept away by floodwaters, though some news reports put the toll at five.
Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said more than 4,000 people were evacuated around Monterrey, where drenching rains filled the Santa Catarina River and other channels that normally carry little water. The governor said the capital had gotten about 10 inches of rain by midday, with some areas getting even more.
Television images showed a car being tossed by swirling, coffee-brown water, which threatened to swamp highway bridges near downtown Monterrey. Flooding destroyed market stalls perched next to the river.
The state's civil protection director, Jorge Camacho, said that some communities in the highlands around Monterrey were cut off and that authorities ordered the closure of two highways.
Officials in Nuevo Leon said they were seeking to have the state declared a disaster area. Classes were suspended until Monday.
In the gulf state of Tamaulipas, where Hurricane Alex powered ashore late Wednesday, high winds thrashed coastal zones as far north as the U.S. border and toppled utility poles inland in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria.
News reports said tens of thousands of people in Ciudad Victoria were left in the dark and without water and telephone service. Winds knocked down trees and signs and smashed windows in a number of banks and car dealerships.
Flooding was reported in dozens of neighborhoods in Matamoros and Reynosa, both along the Texas border. But no fatalities were reported in Tamaulipas.