CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) – Hurricane Delta left a trail of toppled trees, torn roofs and downed power lines in top Caribbean getaway Cancun on Wednesday but the storm weakened before landfall and appeared to have wrought less destruction than many had feared.
Beachside roads were flooded, small boats overturned in a marina, while roof tiles and broken glass littered sidewalks in what looked like a ghost-town early on Wednesday, with 39,000 residents and tourists hidden in shelters before winds abated.
Fallen trees partially blocked a road to the resort’s strip of five-star hotels, and a heavy-set policemen with an axe hacked a path through the debris. Smaller properties suffered caved in-walls or shattered windows, including a local Banco Azteca bank branch surrounded by shards.
Delta had weakened to Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, with winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour), by the time it hit the coast close to Puerto Morelos, a fishing village popular with tourists.
The storm retained a similar strength as it raked across the Yucatan peninsula, an area of jungle, Mayan ruins and modern-day Mayan indigenous towns and villages.
It was expected to gather strength again and hit the Gulf of Mexico later in the day. Its approach has prompted oil companies to shut down offshore production platforms and withdraw workers.
The NHC issued a storm surge warning for parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, including High Island Texas and along to the Alabama-Florida border.
“I WANT TO GO HOME”
Cancun scrambled to shutter shops and evacuate tourists from beach hotels on Tuesday as Delta looked to be one of the strongest hurricanes to threaten the area in years.
Even as a weaker storm, Delta’s arrival was a blow to Mexican efforts to revive tourism battered by the coronavirus pandemic in the surrounding beach-lined state of Quintana Roo.
“I want to go home, this is crazy,” said Dee Harris, a 29-year-old from Michigan who came to Cancun with his partner and had been due to leave before the storm led to the cancellation of their flight. “The vacation was good before this.”
A hurricane warning was in place from the beach town of Tulum westwards, including Cozumel.
Water levels could rise by up to 9 feet (3 m) over normal tide conditions due to Delta, the NHC said.
The Yucatan peninsula had taken a hit at the weekend from Hurricane Gamma, a smaller storm that damaged property and forced restaurants and pre-Hispanic pyramids to close.
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