Police step up security in Los Cabos after Odile
By DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) - Police stepped up patrols in the resort area of Los Cabos, where looters stripped many stores of goods and tens of thousands faced a fourth day without water or power Thursday in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile.
Authorities told local radio that officers would stop and question anyone found on the streets after nightfall Wednesday to make sure they had legitimate business at that hour. Officials stopped short of calling it a curfew.
The measure sought to allay security concerns after days of looting of that extended from convenience stores to big-box retailers. Some residents worried that private homes and condos could be next.
"People are running down streets with shopping carts, and you can see the desperation," Madelynn Pase, a 23-year-old Canadian living in Los Cabos, said by phone. "The supermarkets are all empty, so they're going to go to the next best thing."
Pase said people had been walking around at night shining flashlights into residences, including hers, and she worried would-be robbers could be casing potential targets. She spent the previous two nights sleeping on the floor to make it seem like her place was abandoned, and therefore without any food inside.
Residents in Cabo San Lucas lit bonfires overnight to try to protect their neighborhoods amid scenes of widespread damage.
The roof of an auto dealership collapsed onto a half-dozen cars, and debris was strewn about inside. Inside a waterlogged Wal-Mart superstore, nothing but puddles, trash, empty shelves and graffiti on the wall: "Long live crime!"
Some people lined up with 10-liter (2.6-gallon) jugs and at a water station. Others ventured to the top of a small hill that seemed to be one of the few places with cellphone coverage.
Civil Protection officials reported that the town of Bahia de Los Angeles in the state of Baja California was cut off because of storm damage to the only highway that serves it. A long stretch of the asphalt was completely washed out, and a tractor-trailer lay on its side.
President Enrique Pena Nieto's office said the federal government was working closely with state authorities on relief efforts in the areas battered by Odile, including restoring water and electricity.
It said more than 239,000 people had their power knocked out by the storm, but predicted 95 percent of electrical service would be restored in the coming days.
Authorities said they had flown 5,000 tourists out of the region by Wednesday afternoon. Thousands more were lined up at Los Cabos international airport Thursday. Officials estimated 30,000 travelers were stranded by the storm.
Government planes were also flying in water and other supplies.
After hammering the Baja California Peninsula and other parts of northern Mexico in recent days, the remnants of Odile slammed much of southeastern Arizona but spared the state's metro areas.
To the south, Hurricane Polo was off Mexico's Pacific coast and headed in the general direction of Los Cabos, although early predictions were for the center to remain offshore.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Polo was 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). It was moving northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).
In the central Atlantic, Hurricane Edouard was forecast to remain far from land, although swells could cause dangerous surf along parts of the U.S. East Coast north of Florida and Canada.