Willa dissipates, but evacuations continue, towns cut off
MAZATLAN, Mexico – Emergency workers struggled to reach beach towns left incommunicado by a blow from Hurricane Willa on Wednesday, and the storm continued to force evacuations due to fear of flooding even as it dissipated over northern Mexico.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or missing people, but the storm's 120 mph (195 kph) winds damaged a hospital, knocked out power, toppled wood-shack homes and ripped metal roofing off other houses in the Sinaloa state municipality of Escuinapa.
The state civil defense office said the hospital's ceiling and some other areas were damaged in the city.
The worst damage was expected to be in the handful of coastal communities that were cut off by road and without communications.
Workers were trying to remove toppled power poles and trees blocking the road.
In the farming neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo, a kilometer away from Escuinapa's center, neighbors cried when describing how the wind swept up their tin roofs and wooden house frames while they took shelter under their heaviest furniture.
Ruben Avila and his wife Juana told the Associated Press they were disappointed that government officials had not yet arrived with help, as they sat among their scattered belongings under the pouring rain on Wednesday. Mattresses and remains of their belongings laid soaked on the ground.
In neighboring Nayarit state, Gov. Antonio Echevarria asked the federal government to send a helicopter, boats, rescue equipment, and said the state is trying to evacuate people in communities at risk of flooding.