Surviving hurricane Emily

Yucatan Travel Blog

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The swimming pool after a visit of hurricane Emily

July 2005 - Two days after we arrived in Playa del Carmen, a hurricane was heading his way to Yucatan. Hurricane season used to start later, but due to climate changes, you might have to survive them even in July. The news announced the terrible news that the hurricane, baptised Emily, was gaining strength.  I believe it was a hurricane level 2 when it came into Mexico.

Our hotel took precautions and transported all the guests to a primary school in the suburbs of Cancun while some carpenters tried to 'close' all windows with some wood to protect them. The hotel was near the ocean, and therefore to dangerous to stay there, Emily would definitely hit the hotel! So we all got a 'surviving pack' with some blankets, and of we went, in a bus.

and this picture was even taken a day or 3 after the hurricane!
On our way to Cancun, we saw amazing landscapes, and people hammering their windows to protect their houses.

Arriving in the school building we all picked a class room, we would spent 1 night over there we were told. We slept with 30 to 35 people in a class room that was about 40 square meter. So very very close to each other and all waiting for hurricane Emily to pass. To weather outside was windy of course but still warm, so we waited outside and some guys organized a soccer match to pass time. I went outside to see the area, just for a little while though, I didn't want people to worry about me getting lost or being injured by the approaching hurricane.

When it was time to eat, we all went to a little truck, with was a big fridge basically. And we all got some basic food.

This is suposed to be the swimming pool
We all stood in line for a while, seemed like it was war...we totally depended on the basic food we got, and everybody got the same amount. I didn't have any problem with that though, it was enough for a little girl like me.

So at night, the wind blew harder and we all had to go inside. I became friends with the Argentinian Inès and the Canadian Erin who worked in the hotel. And after all that waiting, there she was, Emily, hurricane level 1 or 2 - I'm not sure. You could hear the wind blow, the wood on the windows (there was no glass) made a scary noise and trees were falling down. It was scary but it could have been worse of course. My mom gave me a chill pill :) and I was ready to sleep all night long, despite the noise Emily was making.

In the morning we were eager to see what happened.

Everything was wet and we could see that a lot of trees fell down. After getting our breakfast out of the truck, it was time to pack. Everybody got ready and we put all the chairs back in the class rooms, we did that with a give-take system. One person took the chaire and gave it to another, which gave it to another one and so on. We made a huge line for this (I really have to find some pictures of this, we made a video of it too).

And of we went again, back to the hotel in Playa del Carmen. On the way "home" it really hit us how terrible this hurricane must have been for the inhabitants. We saw dead animals, electricity poles that had fallen down, houses without roofs, a total disaster. Nature had struck. I was amazed and I felt really really sorry for these people. If you see something like that, you really wonder who some people may ignore global warming and think that humans are stronger than nature.

When we arrived in the hotel, all the trees on the beach had fallen down, the ocean was really filthy, cockroaches everywhere and the water of the swimming pool was just raining water basically. So we entered our room, there was water in it and some cockroaches. We tried to clean it up. We didn't have any electricity, the hotel had a generator that didn't work all the time. Which meant that the fridges weren't functioning all the time. So they couldn't keep the food cold. As a result I got a food posioning and I ate anything but fruits for 4 days.

It took some time for the hotel to recover and even when we left 10 days after the hurricane, it didn't look the same anymore. They had to reconstruct all the little umbrellas on the beach and some windows. And a lot of the palm trees had fallen down and were gone now. At the end of our adventure we all got a t-shirt which said "I survived hurricane Emily". It sure was a great adventure, and in a way I'm glad it happened while I was there.

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photo by: travelgrrl