This site is dedicated to the survivors of Hurricane Wilma in Cancún, Mexico 2005
As the Jess's departed their home town in Ohio the last thing on their minds were a tropical storm thathad been brewing off shoredays before. Why would they, they were entangled in Newly Wed bliss as would any young couple their ripe young age. This would be their first adventure abroad to foreing land aloe togehter. Pretty big adventure when it ticks so many first's right out of the gate. They were so full of love and excitement the worry of a tropical storm was not going to hold them back.
A tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea near Jamaica on October 15, headed westward, and intensified into a tropical storm two days later, which abruptly turned southward and was named Wilma. Wilma continued to strengthen, and eventually became a hurricane on October 18. Shortly thereafter, explosive intensification occurred, and in only 24 hours, Wilma became a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds of 185 mph (298 km/h).
The people of Cancun Mexico are truly some of the hardest working people I have ever seen. During our survival adventure through the days following the storm I was amazed by the amount of work that was completed in the couple days we were stuck there. Workers were out, Marina was out all working together. Their goal and attitude was clearly to push forward and move on. They were digging power-line poles by hand with post digging equipment. The cleanup began ASAP.
Throughout the entire hurricane there was one phrase I heard over and over again, that was "I just want to go home." It was the shared feeling of almost every person at our shelter. We all just wanted to be back home, and none of us new when or how we would do it. I think that for me that was the scariest part. The storm would have been a piece of cake if some one could have told me, ok today is the storm tomorrow you will wait, we will let you fly home on Wednesday. But they couldn't. Because nobody, not the locals, not the hotel staff, not the news, nor our families back home knew when we could get home. We heard so many different things from so many different people it became hard to believe anything. I know that we had at least 7 flights scheduled, cancelled and rescheduled. And people told us the airport was destroyed, they guaranteed the airport wouldn't open for weeks. Others swore that their flights were still on for Monday.
The US Consulate had told us, if you have travel agency don't get on the bus to Merida. The next day (Tuesday morning) an Apple agent said she had no idea when the Cancun airport would open our best option would be to get on a bus to Merida, the hotel staff also told us this. So people got in taxis to get to a bus station. Some of people even paid taxis up to $200 to drive them to Merida. We went to the bus station where we are told there is no more room in Merida, they would not be taking anymore buses. More run around. Our families booked and rebooked for us, and the airlines gave them the run around. My father-in-law spoke with me Tuesday night and after our phone conversation I felt awful for the way I must have come off to him, because I was just so frustrated when he told us again that our flight for the following day was cancelled and the soonest they could book us was Saturday. Saturday?? I couldn't wait until Saturday. I was sad, upset and scared on the Friday and Saturday of the hurricane, I was still upset and scared on Monday, but now Tuesday night with that news I was pissed. I couldn't believe it, how could the airlines just leave us down here? And with all the mixed messages, and the run around we got.
Early Wednesday we by chance ran into the location Delta had set up for people to get on buses for an emergency flight out of Cancun Airport. One of the first flights out of Cancun. We were lucky to get on this flight. And we are so happy to finally BE HOME! But another part of me has this incredible guilt that we are home and so many of those people we met in our shelter may not be. We were all separated in the confusion of the Merida buses. We wound up in a hotel in downtown Cancun where the Apple agent told us to go to the Aero Mexico office a mile or two away in the morning. The Aero Mexico office happened to be right by the Delta station. But what about the other people. Did they know about these emergency flights? Do they have flights to get home? OR did some of them risk the 5 hour taxi ride to Merida? My brain keeps running through all of these questions. I feel lucky, and guilty. I just have to keep hoping that everyone made it home safely, and that hopefully by now a week later everyone has made it home at all.
Brick Wall Vs Car
Across the Yucatán peninsula, Hurricane Wilma dropped torrential rainfall, inundated coastlines with a significant storm surge, and produced an extended period of strong winds. The hurricane lashed parts of the Yucatán peninsula with hurricane-force winds gusts for nearly 50 hours. On the Mexican mainland, a station in Cancún recorded 10–minute sustained winds of 160 km/h (100 mph), with gusts to 212 km/h (132 mph) before the anemometer failed; gusts were estimated at 230 km/h (140 mph). The gust in Cancún was the strongest ever recorded in Mexico. The prolonged period of high waves eroded beaches and damaged coastal reefs. - wiki
The food situation was not very exciting. At least in our shelter we had food. Some of the stories we had heard when people came in from other shelters was that there was no food in other places. We had food up until the point that we left. It would get worse every day. You could tell the people making the food were running out
of ideas on what to make.
By the time we left we were eating a salsa looking mix with chips and that's it. By Sunday we were out of water because people were bathing in it and waisting it in other ways. We did our best to keep from getting hungry. We ventured out several times after the storm lookin for small shops that were open to get chips and such. Sunday there was a place selling rice and chicken, our first hot meal in 4 days. It was so good.
Calm Before the Storm
We immediately go downstairs and get on the internet and talk to our loved ones telling them the new we just received. At that time there was quite a buzz going around the RIU Palace hotel in the lobby. The next morning we get yet another sheet of paper slipped in the door. It said to bring our airline paperwork, 1 pillow and blanket each. We were then bussed to the shelter inland about 4-5 miles to a secondary school. Along with us came several cooks and raw fruit / vegetables and some canned goods. We were told that we were only going to be there 1-2 days. We personally stayed in the school shelter from Thursday the 20th through Sunday the 24th.
Taking a break
Once we left the school shelter we went back to the RIU Palace Las America resort and stayed there for 1 night. This was the start of the chain of events that eventually led to us being one of the first planes out of the Cancun airport. At the RIU we were able to get a lite wash from the back of the toilets. Since the back of the tanks hold fresh water we lathered ourselves up and washed ourselves. There were several rooms that were unlocked so we went around and gathered up more waters and other choice drinks left in the fridges. Since only some of the rooms key cards worked another couple roomed with us. Aside from no running water and power this was the best night we had since leaving the shelter.
Taking it all in
Keith, I'm glad to see you took some photos of that place. After the RIU kicked us out Monday we hit this place up thanks to Keith & Chris's travel agent from Apple. The place was great, it was nice, secure and close to a VIP's. We immediately went and got our first hot meal and cold drink. It was amazing! They also had running water somehow. They were running a generator so all was good. We were able to go to the roof and scope out the city at night to see what parts still had power or were running generators. our plan for the next day was to venture out and find an outlet so Keith could charge his international phone. Thanks again Keith for letting us use it. Pictured below is Jessica, Chris and yours truly. - Jesse
The hurricane resulted in $13.9 billion (US$1.3 billion) in lost economic output and earnings, 95% of which was related to lost tourism revenue. Wilma damaged 28,980 houses in Mexico, and destroyed or severely damaged 110 hotels in Cancún alone. In the city, about 300,000 people were left homeless. The water level in Cancún reached the third story of some buildings due to 5 to 8 m (16 to 26 ft) waves, in addition to the storm surge. About 300 people who were from Great Britain had to be evacuated when their shelter flooded in Cancún, while the Americans were left there by the United States. - wiki
At 18:01 UTC on October 19, a Hurricane Hunters dropsonde measured a barometric pressure of 884 mbar (26.1 inHg) in the eye of Wilma, along with sustained winds of 23 mph (46 km/h); the wind value suggested that the central pressure was slightly lower, estimated at 882 mbar (26.0 inHg). This is the lowest central pressure on record for any Atlantic hurricane, breaking the previous record of 888 mbar (26.2 inHg) set by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. - wiki
Wilma's intensification rate broke all records in the basin, with a 24–hour pressure drop of 97 mbar (2.9 inHg); this also broke the record set by Gilbert. At the hurricane's peak intensity, the Hurricane Hunters estimated the eye of Wilma contracted to a record minimum diameter of 2.3 mi (3.7 km). - wiki
While striking Mexico, it dropped torrential rainfall on the offshore Isla Mujeres. Over 24 hours, a rain gauge recorded 1,633.98 mm (64.330 in) of precipitation, which set a record in Mexico for the nation's highest 24–hour rainfall total, as well as the highest 24 hour rainfall total in the western hemisphere. - wiki
Pictures with Police
When Tropical Storm Wilma formed on October 17, it became the first named "W" storm in the basin since naming began in 1950. It would be 15 years later for the next Atlantic Hurricane Season, to have another W-named storm – Tropical Storm Wilfred in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. - wiki
This is the location of the shelter we stayed at during the storm. We had a huge group with us from the hotel.15-20 people were clustered in a school room sleeping on pads. After the storm all running water and sewer stopped functioning here. During the storm there was significant flooding from all the sideways rain. All the drains at the shelter quickly backed up from debris and everything flooded until we got the drains clear.
We took shelter here a few nights. It was amazing, we were fortunate they had rooms available