Joseph Namlick went to sleep Tuesday night on the bathroom floor of his hotel room in Acapulco, Mexico. He woke up in about an inch of water.
Traveling from South Carolina, Namlick was one of the attendees at the mining convention in Acapulco that Hurricane Otis, one of the strongest storms on record to hit the country, disrupted. He and other visitors to the popular seaside resort city were stranded in their hotels during the hurricane and are just now finding their way to safety in Mexico City.
Otis made landfall on Mexico’s southern coast early Wednesday morning as a Category 5 hurricane. As of Thursday afternoon, 27 people were reported dead.
No one was prepared for the rapid intensification of Otis – the fastest 12-hour intensification rate on record of any eastern Pacific hurricane in 57 years, according to Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University research meteorologist.
Namlick, a construction manager for a company called NewFields, said he had no idea the weather would turn so severe when he arrived. He was told it “was going to be just a storm,” he told USA TODAY.
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Videos on social media show howling winds ripping off roofs and pulling up trees along with flooded streets.
Some of the convention attendees were trapped inside the convention center overnight because of the wind and rain, Namlick said.
He was one of the lucky ones to get back to his hotel room at the Palacio Mundo Imperial late Tuesday night. Guests were told by hotel staff to “hunker down” in their rooms and keep their sliding glass doors closed. The hotel passed out food and water throughout the night.
“The storm started getting really bad and debris started blowing as the wind velocity kicked up,” Namlick said, adding that he could feel the building move with the force of the wind.
Namlick was on the fifth floor and said the room across from him had their sliding doors blow in, forcing the guests to evacuate.
The power went out shortly after midnight and the highest winds blew at around 1 a.m. He put chairs to hold the shutters of his balcony doors shut, and went to sleep in the bathroom.
“I’ve been through hurricanes before but it was difficult to sleep,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, the hotel’s hallway was wet from water coming in from the ceiling and wind blowing rain inside. The glass elevators were also blown in.
Namlick met up with his colleagues Wednesday morning and they walked to a nearby supermarket where they waited for over four hours for water and other dry goods.
When the weather began to dissipate, buses started to arrive and the hotel coordinated people’s rescue to Mexico City. He has booked a hotel and will continue the rest of his trip in Mexico as planned.
Contributing: The Associated Press