After Earthquake Devastation in Oaxaca, Hurricane Max Raises New Fears

JUCHITÁN DE ZARAGOZA – A tropical storm on Mexico’s southwestern coast has just been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. Hurricane Max made landfall in Mexico’s state of Guerrero on Thursday afternoon, moving slowly inland. According to the Associated Press, Max has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), is located about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-southeast of Acapulco and is heading toward the east at 8 mph (13 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that the hurricane could bring “life-threatening flash floods and rainfall” to the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca—a concerning threat given that Oaxaca’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec is still in the earliest stages of recovery from last week’s historic 8.1 magnitude earthquake. In Juchitán, sporadic showers of heavy rain this morning left some streets flooded, raising concerns over what earthquake recovery will look like if more rains come.

Eduardo Mendoza, Direct Relief’s general manager of programs in Mexico, is also concerned about the spread of mosquito and water-borne illnesses if the rain does come. “Dengue and Chikungunya are endemic to the region, so we’re really concerned that people affected by the quake that are now living outside are at a higher risk,” he said.

Direct Relief staff have been here in Juchitán for the past week, working to provide much-needed aid and assistance in bringing medical supplies to the area after the earthquake took down the town’s hospital. “If we need to mobilize supplies for this hurricane, too, we’ll do it,” says Mendoza. “We’re busy, but this is what we’re here for.”

And just in case an earthquake and hurricane don’t feel like enough, Tropical Storm Norma isn’t far behind Max. Norma could potentially upgrade to a hurricane over the weekend and could make landfall in southern Baja on Monday. Meteorologists are still tracking the storm and say that the storm could curve west and completely miss the peninsula.

For now, the sun has climbed back in the sky in Juchitán. Flooded streets are drying up, but residents who know about the possibility of more rain are taking action. Because of the fear of aftershocks, many residents are still sleeping in the streets. Driving down the potholed roads this evening, a few can be seen hanging tarps over their hammocks or mattress pads.