Hurricane Odile ordeal

By Barbara Ransford
This item appears on page 28 of the February 2015 issue.

My husband, James, and I arrived at the lovely Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort (Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 19.5, Los Cabos, BCS, Mexico 23447; 877/354-1399, www.hilton on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. We enjoyed a fabulous week’s sojourn and were scheduled to fly home the evening of Monday, Sept. 15.

On Sunday evening, Sept. 14, Hurricane Odile hit with a vengeance. Winds reached over 130 mph, ripping tiles off the hotel roof, downing huge palm trees and destroying the roof of the swim-up café.

Restaurant windows had been boarded up, but some of the windows were broken, causing much damage inside. A steel storm door, built to keep a hotel corridor blocked off from the smaller pool area, was ripped out of its frame and twisted.

Around 12:30 a.m., we were evacuated from our room to the ballroom, a designated shelter. We had breakfast and lunch there on Monday and were allowed back to our rooms at about 1:30 p.m. to assess the damage. We stayed in our room and set to work on the cleanup.

Although our room hadn’t been damaged, there was lots of water and debris on the floor. The balcony was littered with roof tiles, a fan blade, a great deal of palm bark and fronds and lots of safety glass pebbles from broken windows somewhere.

Many guests, not as lucky as we were, were dealing with sliding doors that had been blown out plus more flooding. Of course, they had to move to new rooms.

We had no cell coverage or Wi-Fi and no city water or electricity. Since the Hilton was a designated shelter, it had its own generator, but we were allowed only four hours of power in the morning and four in the afternoon/evening. To have water, we needed electricity.

The hotel staff did everything in their power to make our ordeal as tolerable as possible. Beautiful meals were prepared quickly. The chefs were even baking breads and rolls during the height of the storm. The hotel was more than generous with food and beverages (except alcohol).

All in all, the experience renewed our faith in the innate goodness of man, with the hotel staff and guests working side by side to clear hallways and stairs of water and debris and with guests cleaning up their own rooms.

The hotel arranged for taxi and bus service to the airport for all 300-plus guests. The damage we saw on the way to the airport was very, very extensive. There were perhaps 10,000 people, both locals and visitors, waiting in line the morning of Sept. 18 for flights out.

American Airlines sent planes to evacuate Americans. We were on one of the first planes out and flew to Dallas, then to Los Angeles.

The Los Cabos International Airport had no regular services or working terminals. We were directed to the tarmac, where we were given boarding passes with seat assignments; no passenger manifest was made. We were then bused across the tarmac to the plane.

The Mexican Federales and airport personnel were competent, efficient and very helpful.


Pacific Palisades, CA