21 Aug 2021, 09:20

Mexico braces for second hit from Hurricane Grace

  VERACRUZ, Mexico, Aug 21, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Grace strengthened to a Category

Two hurricane Friday as it barreled towards Mexico for a second time,
triggering warnings of flooding and mudslides in mountains on the eastern

   The hurricane first struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula the previous day
near the town of Tulum, famed for its Mayan temples, drenching a string of
Caribbean beach resorts.

   After losing strength, Grace's winds whipped back up to 100 miles (160
kilometers) per hour on Friday, as it moved over the Gulf of Mexico,
according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

   It intensified to a Category Two storm -- the second lowest on the five-
level Saffir-Simpson scale -- while approaching the eastern state of

   A hurricane warning was in effect for coastline stretching from Puerto
Veracruz to Cabo Rojo, where the storm was expected to make landfall during
the night.

   As of 0000 GMT, Grace was centered about 105 miles northeast of the major
port of Veracruz, and heading west towards the coast at a speed of 10 mph.

   "Strengthening is forecast until Grace makes landfall, with rapid
weakening expected as Grace moves inland over the mountains of central
Mexico," the NHC said.

   - Troops on standby -

   Authorities in the state of Veracruz said they had prepared 200 storm
shelters and planned to open another 2,000 if necessary.

   Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia warned of the risk of flooding and
mudslides as the storm dumped heavy rain on the mountainous region.

   Members of the Mexican armed forces were ready to deploy if needed to
protect residents, said civil protection national coordinator Laura

   The authorities closed most of the highways in Veracruz, which is crossed
by numerous rivers.

   Businesses along the coast packed up in preparation for the storm and
residents secured their homes after stocking up on canned food and water.

   Workers boarded up windows to protect stores and fishermen brought their
boats ashore.

   "We will spend many days without fishing -- almost a week," said Isabel
Pastrana Vazquez, head of Veracruz's federation of fisheries cooperatives.

   "About 35,000 fishermen will be affected because we can't go out. We're
going to have a swell and rain," he said.

   - 'Dangerous storm surge' -

   The NHC warned that heavy rainfall in Mexico through the weekend "will
result in significant flash and urban flooding as well as mudslides."

   A "dangerous storm surge" would be accompanied by "large and destructive
waves" near the coast, it said.

   As the hurricane approached Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula earlier in the
week, more than 6,000 tourists and residents were evacuated to storm shelters
across the southeastern state of Quintana Roo.

   The storm passed the Riviera Maya coastline without any loss of life, said
Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin. He said electricity had been almost
completely restored across the state.

   The storm toppled some trees and caused mostly minor damage in Quintana
Roo and the neighboring state of Yucatan.

   Authorities in Mexico City warned that the storm could also bring heavy
rains in the capital over the weekend.