Hurricane Emily’s outer winds and rain begin lashing northeast Mexico |

Hurricane Emily’s outer winds and rain begin lashing northeast Mexico

LA PESCA, Mexico – Hurricane Emily grew in strength as its outer winds and rain lashed Mexico’s coastline Tuesday, forcing thousands in northeastern Mexico and southern Texas to seek higher ground.The hurricane swirled across the Gulf of Mexico, with the eye likely to come ashore early Wednesday near this small fishing village popular with Mexican and U.S. tourists.The storm has already struck Mexico once, ripping roofs off resort hotels and stranding thousands of tourists along the Mayan Riviera, which includes the resort of Cancun.Residents rushed to nail plywood boards over windows and doors, while Mexican army trucks roamed the streets collecting evacuees laden with suitcases and rolled-up blankets.The town was among at least 20 low-lying, seaside Mexican communities being emptied of residents before the storm, which was expected to hit a sparsely populated stretch of coastline just south of the Texas border.In southern Texas, campers emptied beachfront parks on South Padre Island, residents piled sandbags to hold back possible floodwaters and schools were turned into shelters. But for many there, the huge waves were just too much to pass up.”It is amazing,” said Marc Lambert, a tourist from New York who spent two hours boogie-boarding before the storm. “It is cool to see what Mother Nature can do.”Some 150 miles south, in La Pesca, the approaching storm brought a steady wind that blew across the town and breakers skittered toward the abandoned beach. Residents boarded up windows and tied down tin roofs of their homes.Felipe Portillo, a 67-year-old fisherman, helped his sons haul five small, fiberglass fishing boats off the beach and up to the roadside, away from the water. Then they planned to head to a shelter inland.”Overconfidence kills men,” Portillo said. “Running is your best defense.”Some residents were taken to a naval base on a relatively high point on the edge of town where excited children raced giddily about, shrieking and laughing as their parents settled in.”Now that there is help, we must accept it,” said Marta Neri, a 30-year-old who arrived with her three small children.She said she hadn’t gone farther inland because she couldn’t afford to pay a bus or taxi.Emily hit the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday as a fierce Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds, causing millions of dollars in damage. Hundreds of local residents were left homeless, but no deaths or major injuries were reported.The storm weakened, but once back out to sea it strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of 125 mph Tuesday night.Mexico and U.S. oil companies evacuated workers from offshore oil installations in the northern Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Emily swept toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Some 16,000 workers were told to return to Mexican installations in the southern Gulf on Wednesday.Emily didn’t appear to have caused any major damage in the southern Gulf, although state-run Petroleos Mexicanos was still surveying the rigs.Among those leaving for the second strike was Donald Laray, a 60-year-old Texan who moved to Mexico 10 years ago. He was using a pickup truck to haul a recreational vehicle out of a beachfront lot where he was planning to build a hotel.”It’s been just about two days without sleep,” he said, referring to rushed preparations for the storm.Meanwhile in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Eugene swirled about 300 miles south of the peninsula city of Cabo San Lucas. Eugene had maximum sustained winds near 70 mph, with higher gusts, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. The storm was expected to weaken Tuesday night as it moved over cooler waters.—On the Net:National Hurricane Center:

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