Hurricane Odile will be remembered, at least for the time being, as the most powerful storm ever to strike Los Cabos, a popular Mexican resort destination at the tip of Baja California.
The Category 3 storm raged across the region Sunday night and well into Monday. Buildings were leveled, windows were blown out while hotel guests huddled in rooms, automobiles were flipped, power lines and trees were downed.
Debris of all manner now litters every avenue, making cleanup efforts extremely difficult.
Thousands of tourists and residents were forced to stay in shelters after hotels and houses were destroyed. Airports remained closed at least into Tuesday morning, although the National Guard was making an attempt to airlift the sick and elderly to other locations.
Looters ransacked stores and troops were called in to try to maintain order.
Although it has been difficult to obtain reports from people in the area, because of power issues and because most people are trying to cope with so much destruction, photos of the aftermath began to appear on social media sites Tuesday morning.
The images that accompany this report are courtesy of Pisces Sportfishing Fleet, which included this Facebook statement: "Cabo has been utterly devastated by the passage of Category 3 Hurricane Odile. Electricity is not expected to be reconnected until at least 2 weeks from now, and a coordinated national emergency relief team is already in action, to help with rescue and relief efforts.
"Fortunately, we can report that there have not been any confirmed deaths from the storm. We can also report that the Pisces family has not had major damage as we were able to pull boats out of the water before the storm hit. Please keep us and all those who have lost their homes and livelihoods in Los Cabos in your prayers.
"Soon we will be posting ways in which you can help our resilient community get back up on its feet! We may face great challenges in the coming weeks and months, but we will rise up to the challenge and rebuild."
Los Cabos includes Cabo San Lucas and the nearby community of San Jose del Cabo, and points in between. Odile, which came ashore boasting winds of 125 mph, has passed far to the north and is weakening rapidly.
But a new disturbance looms ominously to the south. Tropical Storm Polo, off southern Mexico, is predicted to achieve hurricane strength Thursday. Polo is on a path that could deliver more rain, ferocious winds, and powerful surf to Los Cabos by the weekend.
But for now, residents and tourists are merely trying to get back on their feet, after having survived an ordeal that still must seem surreal, and almost unbelievable.
"I'm taking water for the children and food for the baby. You never know what can happen tomorrow,” Osvaldo Lopez, 41, told AFP as he left a convenience store.
Tifani Brown, 34, a stranded tourist who arrived in Cabo San Lucas on Sunday, just in advance of the storm, added: "I'm disappointed about my vacation, but above all my heart aches for the people from here who lost everything. It’s one thing to see hurricanes on TV. It's another to live them."
Alycia Houser, a college student from Oregon, told NBC via email that she and six relatives had been staying in the presidential suite at Grand Solmar, on the Pacific side of the peninsula close to Land's End, when their vacation was transformed into a scary scramble.
They were among guests rushed to another resort as Odile approached, and during the storm the family took cover in a bathroom, just as a sliding glass door was shattered by wind.
“We could hear things crashing into the walls, and the pressure in the room was horrible,” Houser said. “Our ears were hurting, and we were exhausted.”
They spent 2-and-a-half hours in the bathroom and on Monday emerged from the resort “in awe of everything that was destroyed."
The Weather Channel reported that as much as 11 inches of rain fell in one hour. That's just shy of the 13 inches of rain Los Cabos typically receives in one year.
All of Baja California Sur was affected and in La Paz, the capital of BCS, residents were still without power as of Tuesday morning.
Reads the last post on the Tailhunter International Sportfishing Facebook page, early Monday, as Odile was still raging: "Biggest hurricane since 1967. Now 5:15 a.m. Winds 110-120 mph outside. Has sounded like being in a subway all night. No power or water since midnight. In the dark with flashlights.
“Whole trees being torn up outside … not branches … whole trees. All night the sound of snapping and cracking and then things thumping hard against our roof and walls. Have heard some of them slam against our walls.
"Am surprised I have a signal. Typing in the dark. Part of our roof caved in during the night. Dust swirling everywhere. It’s like a wind tunnel here inside our place. More and stronger to come! CRAZY!!!!”
Crazy, sad, and scary, with a strong shift into recovery mode, but with a wary eye to the south, keeping tabs on Polo.
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