TULUME, Mexico (AP) – Mexican coastal cities in the Caribbean were preparing for Hurricane Grace on Wednesday, evacuating some small hotels, opening shelters and suspending ferry service to Cozumel Island to protect themselves from a Category 1 meteor. A popular tourist area.
Grace is expected to make landfall Thursday before dawn between the islands of Cozumel and Tulum, a destination known for its budget hotels and vibrant nightlife. Carlos Joaquín Gonzalez, governor of Quintana Roo state – where these towns are located – said authorities would clear hotels in the area not built to withstand hurricanes, and demanded that the sale of alcoholic beverages be halted in the area as of 5 p.m. .
Grace had maximum sustained winds of 130 kph (80 mph) Wednesday afternoon, and was moving west-northwestward at 26 km/h (16 mph), according to the United States National Hurricane Center. NHC). The vortex was located 275 kilometers (170 miles) east of Tulum.
The NHC said there is a chance Grace will gain more strength before it makes landfall.
On the main street of Tulum, tourists in plastic coats walked through puddles as the wind intensified. On the beach, the tide was rising and the bathers were seeking shelter from the wind-blown sand.
Armed soldiers and sailors in pickup trucks patrolled the streets of Tulum.
Businesses began lining their windows with walls, and people lined up at groceries to buy essential goods.
“We are taking precautions, making some purchases, like milk, sugar, water and biscuits, because we don’t know how long we should be locked up,” said Adamaris García, a 21-year-old housewife who was in line. Dozens of people in a convenience store.
Meanwhile, some tourists were worried about missing out on a day at the beach while on vacation and others were preparing to experience their first hurricane.
Joanna Gess, from Munich, Germany, was having a beer in Tulum on Wednesday afternoon. This is the first time he has visited Mexico and his first hurricane.
We don’t know what it’s like,” said Jess, a 28-year-old waitress. People tell you it wouldn’t be a bad thing.
When she left a store with some products, Sarah Lynch, a 25-year-old who studies law in California, said she wasn’t too worried.
“We have extra water. We are prepared for a hurricane and we will adapt to the storm and see what happens,” Lynch said. We have survived COVID.”
To the north, in Cancun, some fishermen were moving their boats away from the water’s edge for protection.
“They caught us last year (without preparation) because sometimes the information they gave is incorrect and sometimes we endure (storms),” said fisherman Carlos Canchi Gonzalez. “But I don’t think things will get any worse. The experience we already had last year, because if it got worse or not, we have to save the team. That’s what we live on, we’ve been fishermen for years.”
Kenny Cifuentes, a 19-year-old Colombian, lamented the meteor’s presence.
“For a tourist, this hurricane is very negative, because we all have activities scheduled for certain days, and this hurricane is canceled because it hurts our holidays,” he said.
State authorities said that as of last week, the area was home to about 130,000 tourists and that hotels were occupied at more than half capacity despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Journalist Dan Christian Rojas in Cancun contributed to this report.
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