Devastation and Struggles in Acapulco After Hurricane Otis Hits Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Structural harm inflicted by Hurricane Otis on waterfront structures in Acapulco, situated in Guerrero state.

In the early hours of Wednesday, October 25th, Josefina Maldonado, a grandmother in her 60s residing in Acapulco’s Renacimiento district, witnessed the violent destruction of her home as Hurricane Otis, with wind speeds of 165 mph (270 km/h), tore off the corrugated metal roof. The hurricane, later categorized as the strongest storm to ever hit Mexico’s Pacific coast, inflicted extensive damage to more than 200,000 homes and tragically claimed at least 45 lives, with numerous people reported missing. The belated upgrade of Otis from category 1 to category 5 by the United States National Hurricane Center just hours before its landfall left Acapulco residents with minimal time to evacuate, underscoring a significant shortcoming in meteorological predictions.

Residents of Renacimiento, facing the monumental task of clearing debris and destruction the day after the storm, labored to create pathways through the ruins, piling refrigerators, mattresses, food containers, bent street signs, and children’s tricycles in front of their homes. Food and essential supplies became scarce, with the disaster economy setting in and prices surging two to three times higher than usual. Those without funds had to rely on help from better-off neighbors or organize collective taxi rides to distant places in search of provisions. For many in working-class areas that support the city’s tourist zones, leaving was not an option as they feared losing their remaining belongings, and their economic prospects dimmed further as jobs vanished due to the destruction. Preliminary assessments indicate that as much as 80% of Acapulco’s hotels were ravaged by the storm, potentially devastating the region’s tourism-dependent economy. The Mexican government anticipates reconstruction costs of £2.8 billion (61 billion pesos) for Acapulco and has started providing aid, but the sheer scale of devastation poses immense challenges for the community’s recovery.