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The Scene In The Wake Of A Much-Weakened Hurricane


We want to bring you up to date on what we know about Hurricane Patricia. On Friday, the storm became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. It hit the Mexican coast last night with sustained winds of 165 miles per hour. But it quickly weakened as it made its way north, leaving nowhere near the catastrophic damage that many had feared. And so far, Mexican authorities say there are no reported deaths. NPR's Carrie Kahn is in Colima, near where the hurricane made landfall, and she's with us now. Seems like a big sigh of relief there, Carrie.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Most definitely, most definitely, Michel. And I'm in Colima, as you said. I'm in the town center, the square here, which is just beautiful, with a colonial-style kiosk in the park with wrought-iron benches and blue skies. And you would not know that the most powerful storm in the history of the Western Hemisphere just blew through here less than 24 hours ago. There's a little light rainfall and, you know, the roads we've been on, including the major toll roads, have all been cleared. And they are even free today as authorities are trying to facilitate easy travel for people who are trying to evacuate and for emergency vehicles. So it's a much different scene than what we had feared.

MARTIN: Has there been any damage?

KAHN: There's localized flooding. We saw some trees down on - and they say there's - on the coastal roads - there are few communities on the coast that are still incommunicado, so we don't really know. But, you know, what we've seen from coming from Guadalajara inland out to the mountain areas, no - nothing too bad. You know, this is - in the mountains is where they were really fearful that - there were predictions like 20 inches of rain could fall. But we didn't see that many landslides. We saw some isolated mudslides. We saw some roaring rivers with full trees going down it, but nothing like, as I said, that we were fearful of.

MARTIN: Are people out and about other than reporters like you trying to tell us what's going on there? Is anybody doing their thing, and what are people saying about it?

KAHN: Most definitely people are out. We stopped at a shopping mall outside of Guadalajara, which is really far from where the hurricane hit. And people were at their businesses, and they were taking off protective tape and plastic bags that they had put up. They had moved all their merchandise and furniture away from windows. And people were getting back to normal. And I even asked one guy who was working at this furniture rental place, and I said was this all for naught, you know, all this fear of this big hurricane? He said well, it's better to take precautions than to regret it later. And he said there was no problem, that everybody really heeded the warnings from government officials and took all the precautions necessary.

MARTIN: Speaking of officials, I understand that the president of Mexico, Pena Nieto, has been out and about, visiting various towns in the region today. I just wonder though if there's any concern that because things were not as bad as feared that people won't take the next warning as seriously next time.

KAHN: The president already addressed the nation before and said, you know, we seem to have dodged a bullet but we can't let down our guard. I think they're mindful of that. That is always the concern of officials. But you saw those pictures of the hurricane barreling down toward western Mexico at a Category 5. I don't think anybody's going to fault them for the precautions that they took, and they're actually getting high marks, which is good news for this administration, which in two past hurricanes did not get very many high marks for its precautionary and rescue efforts.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Carrie Kahn in Colima. Thanks Carrie.

KAHN: You're more than welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.