Hurricane John spares posh Mexican resort
LOS CABOS, Mexico, Sept 2 (Reuters) Hurricane John slammed into the Baja California peninsula, forcing thousands of tourists and residents in this posh beach resort into shelters to escape high winds, angry seas and lashing rain.
But the Los Cabos resort, popular with US tourists and famed for its beaches and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, dodged a bullet as John did not make a direct hit yesterday night, veering off to the east as it made landfall.
Concern now shifted to the less-elegant tourist port of La Paz, capital of Baja California Sur state and home to about 200,000 residents, which was close to the expected path of the hurricane spinning up the east coast of the narrow peninsula.
Heavy rain pounded La Paz and main roads were flooded, cutting off several.
Vacationers in Los Cabos, where winds still roared late into Friday night, started to go back to their rooms after their five-star hotels had forced them to sit the day out on mattresses in shelters set up in conference rooms.
''We are tired and we want a shower,'' said Sherry Pruitt, on vacation in Los Cabos with her husband Tony.
Its guests in a shelter for 24 hours, the Hotel Tesoro gave the couple from Sacramento, California, and others the all clear to go back to their room after the worst of the storm was over and torrential rains had ceased.
But local residents in Los Cabos were less-fortunate as rescue workers forced them to spend a second night in shelters set up for people living in areas that were most imperiled by flooding and winds.
''Nobody is leaving until the red alert is lifted,'' David Manriquez, deputy director of Civil Protection in Los Cabos, told Reuters. ''That might happen Saturday morning.'' HOME STILL STANDING? Maria de Jesus Diaz, who was preparing to spend another night in a shelter with three children, complained of a shortage of food and was itching to go home to see if her house of sheet metal and cardboard was still standing.
''We are bored and tired, just sitting and sleeping here,'' said the housewife, who said she lost her flimsy home and many clothes in the last big storm to blow through the region.
John was downgraded to a Category 2 storm but still brought winds of nearly 110 mph (175 kph), although some further weakening is expected.
The US National Hurricane Center said the storm was 70 miles (115 km) southeast of La Paz and creeping northwest.
''We have the 4,000 people who were in most danger in shelters.
We are ready,'' said the head of Civil Protection for the state, Jose Gajon, who is based in La Paz.
John was forecast to rumble up the peninsula and eventually edge out into the Pacific Ocean, posing no threat to the United States.
Coastal storm surges of up to 5 feet above normal tide levels were expected and rainfall of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm), with isolated deluges of 18 inches, possible over southern Baja California, the center said.
Many vacationers in Los Cabos took no chances and flew home early, creating long lines at Los Cabos airport. One luxury hotel sent its guests to San Diego, California, by bus.
REUTERS PDM BS1131