After what had been a pretty epic early season in Oaxaca, with consistent swells, a handful of crazy rides at Puerto, and reports of epic banks at some of the points, Hurricane Agatha made landfall last week as the most powerful hurricane to ravage the coast in the month of May. For a week before the storm hit, its path seemed to be aimed straight at Puerto Escondido, so once the dust settled, we got in touch with local lensman Edwin Morales to see what the situation is on the ground.
"We initially all thought it was coming straight to Puerto, and the vibe in the air was totally spooky. We could tell things were supposed to get bad, because all of the fishermen took their boats out of the water and tied them to trees, houses, and anything else they could attach to. Some people were putting plywood on their windows and others stocked up on supplies in advance, but others didn't, so it was hard to know if everyone was prepared for it. Thank God it didn't hit here in Puerto—there wasn’t a lot of damage and the sand bars at Zicatella are still intact. But it was very unfortunate that it hit the neighboring towns south of us."
And where was hit the hardest? "The most affected areas are the municipalities of San Pedro Pochutla, Santa Maria Tonameca, and Santa Maria Huatulco. Many little beach towns were hit, but it’s actually worse when you start going up into the mountains (due to flooding, mudslides, etc.). Many little communities had their roads destroyed and are now completely cut off, with no access. So that’s the biggest problem right now."
"The coastline was pretty devastated. Most palapas were blown away, and just about any roof that wasn’t concrete is gone. Mazunte, Zipolite, Puerto Angel had severe damage, especially since the building regulations there don’t allow for concrete structures."
So what can be done to help the people there? "Just about any kind of help is needed at this point—there is so much that needs to be done. We have started a GoFundMe page with the help of Greg Long and local surfers like Roger Ramirez, Jose Ramirez, Roxel Perez, Marcial Monreal, Jafet Ramos and many others and the funds that are raised will bring aid to the people who are most in need. We are currently collecting data and mapping out the areas that were most heavily affected so we can go straight to where help is needed the most. We need water, food, meds, clothes, materials for roofs, etc. The list is extensive."
To help out, you can donate through GoFundMe HERE . Also, YachtAidGlobal is supporting relief efforts in the area, in collaboration with Edwin and big wave hellman, Coco Nogales. See HERE for more details.