I have said it before, and I will say it again: the US media is useless and incapable of reporting on today's challenges with the rapidity and fury of the climate emergency. One would think that an unprecedented category-five windstorm that flattened a resort city of one million people on Mexico’s Pacific coast might be mentioned at least below the fold of mainstream media cable and print outlets. In general, it has not.
Granted, there is a lot of ugly and lethal violence occurring in the Middle East. Here at home, non-stop reporting on the mass murder of people living their lives in Maine. Heck, even Ukraine coverage is relatively quiet. And climate? It is always on the back burner of coverage despite us being at the beginning of the greatest existential crisis life across the planet has ever faced.
But Mexico is our neighbor; shouldn’t we know what happened to the victims left behind and discuss what we can do to help them? Where is the curiosity, the articles on suffering? Where are the Americans flying in to save the day?
People had little or no time to prepare. When I lived in hurricane country, we had a few days of warning to prepare a week's worth of food and three gallons of water per person daily. With the rapid intensification of cyclonic storms like Hurricane Otis, that may become more difficult, as the Acapulco windstorm laying waste to Mexico’s State of Guerrero clearly shows.
This diary is visual in order to get the attention of the media and shame them toward reporting on a climate crisis; it is necessary to show the destruction and suffering.
Yale Climate Connections writes on the aftermath:
Damage from Otis is going to reach many billions of dollars. Global reinsurance broker Gallagher Re estimated today that total economic damages from Otis would top $10 billion USD. Their chief scientist, Steve Bowen, commented, “As climate change research continues to conclude that we should expect more high-end tropical cyclones – and this research is being regularly validated – we need to be making smart decisions on how we’re better preparing for this growing risk. This includes a smarter approach to how and where we build, making strategic investments around infrastructure modernization, and ensuring more financial protection for citizens in the aftermath of events.” Typhoon Mirelle in Japan from 1991 ($22 billion 2022 USD) is the most expensive non-U.S. tropical cyclone in history.
Apart from the stunning damage in the high-rises of central and coastal Acapulco, there has been immense suffering and destruction in the city’s more modest neighborhoods, including communities east of downtown and on the hills just above the core city. Details remain limited from these areas, in part because of ongoing enormous challenges in transportation and communication.
Otis is the strongest hurricane on record to hit Mexico from the Pacific, and Mexico has now seen two of its top-10 strongest hurricane landfalls on record this month, as Otis was preceded by the landfall of Category 4 Hurricane Lidia on October 10. Three hurricanes even stronger than Otis have hit the nation from the Atlantic side. Here are the strongest landfalling Mexican hurricanes (by sustained wind speed at the time of landfall).
Otis is the world’s ninth Cat 5 storm of 2023, using ratings from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and National Hurricane Center. The 1990-2022 average globally for an entire calendar year is 5.3 Cat 5s, so 2023 is well above average, tied for third-highest since 1990. The record is 12 Cat 5s in a year, set in 1997. The strongest Cat 5 of 2023 was Super Typhoon Mawar in the Western Pacific, which peaked with 185 mph winds in May.
Some 17,000 soldiers and police have been deployed in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco, where there has been widespread looting since a powerful hurricane hit the region.
Videos show people taking food and water from shops, while others walk away with expensive electronic items and clothes from shopping centres.
Thirty-nine people are now known to have died in Hurricane Otis.
Hundreds of thousands of people remain without power and water.
Authorities have no way of moving the dead. The morgues are full, no electricity or communications, and roads are blocked with mounds of debris everywhere. Bodies are still being pulled out of the ocean. Relatives and neighbors are placing bodies in garbage bags and covering them to minimize the stench of the decay,
Looting — the grocery stores are empty, and looters are taking flat-screen TV’s and other valuables. There is little police presence.
“An empty stomach knows no morality.” - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
From USA Today:
Hurricane Otis intensified into a Category 5 storm before making landfall near Acapulco, Mexico Tuesday night with maximum sustained winds around 165 mph.
According to AccuWeather, Otis grew from a tropical storm with 50-mph winds at 5 p.m. ET Monday to a Category 5 hurricane with 165-mph winds by 1 a.m. Wednesday.