News from Cozumel after Hurricane Emily

(Report from D. Aspegren, scuba instructor in Cozumel)

All is well after Emily:

I was pretty well prepared, also for a flooding; I had a few full stage-tanks ready under my bed and my diving suit and sidemount-harness ready to put on 🙂 I also had stored up with water and 300 hours of cave-diving lights… In the end, I realised that this hurricane could become really serious, so the better half of my brain stopped me from going cave-diving… (However, five hours after Emily passed by, I was already clearing the road to my favorite cave-diving site, Aerolito :)

My main concern during the hurricane, was the expected flooding, but another worry was a huge, heavy cell-phone tower, which is cemented into the ground, only 15 meters from my room… The tower got a bit bent, and a huge steel-structure on top of the tower, is now completely bent to the side, but fortunately it didn`t come crashing through my roof 🙂

Although Emily did pass by pretty close, she had a fairly high speed and, hence, didn´t have enough time to destroy the island.

Another big difference from the effects of Ivan in the Caymans, was the fantastic organization and readiness of the government and Cozumeleños. Security forces were driving around in bulldozers, just hours before the hurricane hit, to move fallen trees and other obstructions. Just hours after the hurricane had passed, most of the roads had already been cleared by police, Marines and ordinary citizens. So- instead of looting liquor-shops, the residents here worked together to clear the roads and minimize damage. Also, a ban on alcohol has been in effect since Emily passed, so insted of drinking, the people are working hard.

The most obvious effect, is an immediate loss of income for the majority of people, since tourism is the main income here. Already two days before Emily, people started putting "For Sale" -signs on their cars. People know that times will be tough for a while.

However, no-one died in Cozumel and I hope that they were as fortunate in Riviera Maya, where a lot of Mayas still live like they did five-hundred years ago, in huts with mud-floors…

My biggest excitement during the hurricane, was to get an opportunity to read an interesting book about the indigenous uprising in Chiapas, eleven years ago.(First World, Ha Ha Ha! The Zapatista Challenge.) It is hard to get an understanding of the horrible conditions in the poorer parts of Mexico, while living in one of the richest areas of the country… I can really recommend the book, it has given me even more respect for the Mayan people, than just observing their responsible behaviour after a hurricane.

Anyway, I´m happy to say that everything is ok here and life goes on as before the hurricane, except that a large part of the inhabitants don’t have a job to go to.

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