by Staff Writers
Zihuatanejo, Mexico (AFP) Oct 22, 2013
Hurricane Raymond weakened and barely budged off Mexico's Pacific coast Tuesday, dumping more rain in a region still recovering from a previous deadly storm.
The new storm prompted some 1,500 people to leave their homes in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan while schools closed and beach plans were upended for tourists seeking sun in the resorts of Zihuatanejo and Acapulco.
Raymond was "barely a hurricane" as it stalled again after slightly moving, and it could still creep closer to the coast, the US National Hurricane Center said.
It gradually weakened from Category Three to Category One on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, with top winds slowing to 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour.
Raymond was expected to slowly veer west-southwest away from land by Wednesday and weaken to a tropical storm, the US forecasters said.
At 2100 GMT, the hurricane was 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the resort of Zihuatanejo and 140 miles (225 kilometers) from another tourist haunt, Acapulco.
The Mexican National Water Commission urged the public to keep following government alerts despite the storm's weakening since it was producing rain across much of the country.
Mexico is still reeling from floods and landslides unleashed by tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid last month, which left 157 people dead.
Hurricane Raymond flooded some streets and two dozen homes in Acapulco, one month after Manuel trapped thousands of tourists there.
"We had just bought mattresses and other things that we lost when the water took everything with Manuel, and now this rain put us on alert again," said Esperanza Hernandez, standing in the living room with her furniture resting on bricks to stay the dry.
Further west in Zihuatanejo, the tourists who made it to the coastal town were asked to remain in their hotels.
"We didn't know about the hurricane," said Erin Hopkins, a tourist from the northwestern US city of Seattle, eating dinner with her husband and another couple as they watched the rain come down.
"We're eating something quickly before returning to our room," she said in the sparsely occupied Villa Mexicana Hotel.
Fishermen docked their boats after many fellow seamen lost theirs during Manuel's passage.
Authorities evacuated more than 1,000 people from coastal towns in Guerrero while soldiers helped 400 more leave their homes in neighboring Michoacan.
Schools closed for 35,000 children and ports were shut down.
Manuel was particularly vicious in Guerrero's mountains, producing a major landslide that buried much of a village, leaving scores missing.
Bartola Hernandez, a grandmother caring for four children whose home was wrecked by Manuel, took no chances and left her mountain town to take refuge in a shelter in Zihuatanejo.
"When I heard the mayor's warning on the radio, I didn't hesitate. I grabbed my children and went down in a civil protection truck," she said.
Despite his warnings, Zihuatanejo Mayor Eric Fernandez was concerned that few people were heeding his call as he addressed some 100 people at a shelter.
"If you need us to go get a relative or a neighbor, please tell us," he said.
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