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January 8, 2015 at 5:31 AM

Recovering from Odile: Los Cabos hurricane was toughest on locals

Want to forget the hurricane? Some go surf casting, on the beach at San Jose del Cabo. (photo by Brian Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

When he ‘s not surf casting on the beach at San Jose del Cabo, American “snowbird” Jeff Deller has helped rebuild homes in a hard-hit local barrio. (photo by Brian Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Hurricane Odile wandered around the Pacific a bit before suddenly turning its eye on Los Cabos in mid-September, so few thought to evacuate until it was too late. About 30,000 tourists were trapped in the area, some for days.

But the storm was even tougher on many of the locals, who went without power and potable water for weeks in some areas. It was the most expensive repair job ever for the local power authority. Many people lost their homes, especially the poorest.

“It hit the barrios bad,” said Jeff Deller, a Bend, Ore., resident who spends winters in a San Jose del Cabo-area condo. I met him while he was surf fishing on the beach.

Jeff Deller, from Bend, Ore., shows off his mackerel catch at San Jose del Cabo.

Jeff Deller, from Bend, Ore., shows off his mackerel catch at San Jose del Cabo.

He wasn’t in Los Cabos for the hurricane, but knows many who were. “They went for almost a month without much food here,” he said with a shake of his head.

Pretty much any barrio home that wasn’t concrete block got blown away, and that included many simple structures in the poorest back streets, some of which I drove through Tuesday. Vacant lots showed evidence of some rebuilding. While no deaths were publicly recorded, Deller said local rumors are that many went unreported.

Deller, who made a living in construction for much of his life, joined a volunteer effort last week to rebuild houses in the barrios.

For some American ex-pats with damaged homes here, price gouging by repair contractors has been a problem because of the high demand for workers and materials, he said.

Even the temporary loss of hotel jobs has been tough on some local workers, though some are working in reconstruction efforts or have transferred to sister properties. The government has stepped in with various types of assistance for hotel operators, perhaps prompting a feeling of “no rush” on remaining repairs, Deller suggested.

“Get it done!” he exclaimed, looking toward a beach resort where empty windows still gape.

 

Comments | More in Hurricanes, Los Cabos hurricane, Los Cabos hurricane recovery, Trip reports | Topics: baja, expats in Baja, Los Cabos hurricane damage

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