Acapulco Rain: Mudslides and Flooding from Tropical Storm Arlene
(Acapulco, NA July 2) Tropical storm Arlene (in the Pacific) and Tropical Depression Number 5 (in the western Caribbean) have dumped heavy and sustained rain on Acapulco since June 28 through today. The result has been mudslides, flooding and snarled traffic, much like that experienced when Hurricane Beatrice slammed the port city just two weeks earlier. Over 900 families were forced from their homes, either by flood waters or evacuation orders. Trees fell on power lines and blocked streets, storm drains backed up into the main avenues, and deep puddles were everywhere, discouraging the citizens from leaving their homes, either by car or on foot. The main coastal road, the Costera Miguel Alemán, was impassible in several spots around the bay. Classes were suspended in many parts of the city, and special events, such as the Acapulco Philharmonic Concert planned for Friday evening, were cancelled. Flights out of the International airport were either delayed or cancelled as a result of the bad weather. The port was closed to all navigation.
State public safety director, Ramón Almonte Borja said that no lives were lost in the tropical storm, but serious flooding was reported in the neighborhoods of Alejo Peralta, La Poza, and nearby communities – working-class suburbs behind the Diamond Zone, near Coloso and Colosio. In La Poza, 100 persons went to the shelter set up for flood victims, and more than 200 homes were under water.
Flooding of homes was also reported in Renacimiento, Emiliano Zapata, La Esperanza and Las Cruces, just outside Acapulco’s geological amphitheater. The Sabana River bed, which flows from Las Cruces to the southeast, was already at its brink from previous rainfall, and overflowed. The authorities activated disaster contingency plans, including the preventive evacuation of many families in the area.
In the upper reaches of Costa Azul, in the Praderas neighborhood, a 130 ton rock threatened to break away from the steep slope above. Civil protection personnel had to shore it up with hundreds of sand bags.
Several mud slides occurred along the winding Escénica, the “scenic highway” that connects the inner bay of Acapulco to the bay of Puerto Marqués and the Diamond Zone. The worst was at the overpass at the Avenida Heroico Colegio Militar, the entrance to Loyola University, the Botanical Gardens, and communities above them.
Along the Bulevar de las Naciones, the main highway of the Diamond Zone, and in Colosio and Avenida Revolcadero (into Puerto Marqués), waters rose almost 20 inches above the ground level.
In all, more than 900 families were forced from their homes because of the sequence of two back-to-back periods of heavy rain.