Wilma has battered Mexico’s Caribbean coast for three days, killing at least six people and flooding homes and tourist resorts. The slow moving rampage dumped rain continuously as winds howled across the Yucatan peninsula. Mexico is no stranger to hurricanes but Wilma moved extremely slowly and at 800 kilometres in diameter was extremely wide when it passed over.
Several thousand people, tourists and locals alike, rode out the storm in shelters with no light or running water. By Saturday evening Wilma calmed down to a category three storm and was slowly heading for the southern tip of Florida which forecasters say will likely hit land on Monday. In Cuba over 300 thousand people were evacuated and at least 20 homes and tobacco curing houses were destroyed.
One local, Manuel Perez, described what happened when Wilma hit. “We heard a loud buzzing, it was coming so we ran and then saw tornado upon us. We crawled under beds, anywhere. everybody hid,” he said. The hope now is that Wilma will lose some of its punch as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida.
People in the state are no strangers to storms like Wilma but this year’s hurricane season has seen three of the worst storms on record. Experts says the Atlantic Ocean has entered a period of heightened storm activity which could last for 20 years.