Cozumel, 28th October 2011, by Nora H.
24th October. Every inhabitant of Cozumel is informed via internet, TV, and radio about “Rina” – a category 2 Hurricane located southeast of the Yucatan peninsula and heading towards Belize and Mexico, on the verge of turning into category 3 Hurricane that could possibly hit the island directly in two days. Also the tourists that came with the cruise ships from the United States to visit the island were warned of the big storm. Indeed, it looked dangerous so that they were advised to leave the island – so far so good.
25th October. Against the calculations, Hurricane “Rina” has already weakened a little with wind speeds of around 105 mph. She will probably not turn into a category 3 Hurricane, is said to decrease in power even more by a reliable weather forecast by the National Hurricane Center. Due to a very slow movement of 3 mph she will arrive in Cozumel one day later than expected, on 27th October.
The US media seems to ignore those significant changes in the weather report, speaking about a “furious” Hurricane causing havoc in the Caribbean Sea, thousands of evacuated people, “panic buying”, and fear on the streets in remembrance of “Wilma”, the category five Hurricane 6 years ago. In the meanwhile, the Mexican inhabitants start preparing their homes – windows are taped, doors are bolted with additional wooden planks, everything that’s not nailed down is nailed down or locked away. Diving boats are lifted out of the water and secured in several ports, the beach has been closed. Families buy food, especially bread and tinned food – not without joking about the “compras de pánico” – in case the Hurricane will stay for many hours which is possible considering her slow movement. Also big water cans are bought in case the water pipe breaks or is shut down. Everyone knows that the electricity will be cut off for sure. And everyone stays calm.
26th October. “Rina” barely is a category 1 Hurricane anymore, is expected to shrink to a Tropical Storm before reaching Cozumel. Since the winds have abated to 70 mph, the worst is going to be the rainfall up to 10 inches. 15 affected cruise ships changed their course – which makes sense because the sea will be quite rough. But, reading some of many tabloid papers from the US, all tourists are still insistently advised to leave Cozumel and the Mexican coastal area, too. Because… you could get wet?
27th October. The terribly hazardous day has come beginning with sunny weather and a beautifully calm sea. The calm before the storm? Maybe. “Rina” has decreased to a storm with maximum winds of 65 mph, but just to be sure, a curfew has been imposed as soon as a mild wind got up. Later on, the downpour caused floods on the streets within few hours, a lightning strike cut off the electricity –still nothing which has not been expected before.
During the night, “Rina” swept past Cozumel, making quite some noise, breaking some lampposts, trees, and fences, carrying some lose dustbins from street A to street B – as if by magic! Nothing to lose one’s nerves about, even though “Rina” is already heading back to us for her second severe strike, now as a Tropical Depression – if she is not causing panic, someone from a few hundred of miles up north will for sure!
Maybe life is just too boring in other countries, so why not transform a middle-sized “tormentita” immediately into a tormenting, devastating Hurricane the size of “Wilma” in 2005? Someone should definitely reconsider his or her way of information processing. In any case, the people living in Cozumel have been vigilant and well-prepared, the clearing-up operations and repairs are already done, and life continues.