Joseph Namlik went to sleep Tuesday night on the bathroom floor of his hotel room in Acapulco, Mexico. Wake up in about an inch of water.
Namlik, who was traveling from South Carolina, was one of the attendees at a mining conference in Acapulco that was disrupted by Hurricane Otis, one of the strongest storms on record to hit the country. He and other visitors to the popular seaside resort were stranded in their hotels during the hurricane and are now finding their way to safety in Mexico City.
Otis made landfall on the southern coast of Mexico early Wednesday morning as a Category 5 hurricane. As of Thursday afternoon, 27 people were reported dead.
No one was prepared for Otis’ rapid intensification — the fastest 12-hour intensification rate recorded for any hurricane in the eastern Pacific in 57 years, according to Phil Klotzbach, a research meteorologist at Colorado State University.
Namlik, a construction manager at a company called Newfields, said he had no idea the weather would get so severe when he arrived. He was told it was “just going to be a storm,” he told USA TODAY.
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Videos spread on social media show strong winds ripping off roofs, uprooting trees and flooded streets.
Namlik said some conference attendees were trapped inside the conference center overnight due to wind and rain.
He was one of the lucky ones who returned to his room at the Palacio Mundo Imperial hotel late Tuesday night. Hotel staff asked guests to “shelter in place” in their rooms and keep their sliding glass doors closed. The hotel distributed food and water throughout the night.
“The storm started to get really bad and debris started blowing away as the wind speed increased,” Namlik said, adding that he could feel the building moving with the force of the wind.
Namlik was on the fifth floor and said the room across from him had its sliding doors blown off, forcing guests to evacuate.
The power went out shortly after midnight and strong winds blew around 1 a.m. He put the chairs down, closed the shutters on his balcony doors, and slept in the bathroom.
“I’ve been through hurricanes before but it was hard for me to sleep,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, the hotel lobby was soaked with water coming from the ceiling and wind blowing rain inside. Glass elevators were also blown up.
Namlik met up with his colleagues on Wednesday morning and walked to a nearby supermarket where they waited for more than four hours for water and other dry goods.
As the weather began to clear, buses began to arrive and the hotel coordinated the rescue of people to Mexico City. He has booked a hotel and will continue the rest of his Mexico trip as planned.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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