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Old 10-23-2005   #1 (permalink)
playa maya guy

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post-Wilma report from Playa Maya

(Had some trouble getting this to post and don't have much time to figure out where it should ideally go. Somebody please move it for me! Thanks.)

Well! Well, well, well...

As I write this is it about 5 pm local time on Sunday the 23rd of October. So it's been 2 days and about 7 hours or so since our last report. I certainly will not try to report on everything that went on, because it's not so relevant now and many of you probablyl know more than I do about how the storm actually went. We had no reports during that period, have lost our phone lines sometime after that last post and getting spotty and conflicting reports in over the next 36-48 hours only by the occasional cell phone call or text message, others in Mexico City or Merida, for example, reporting to us about the storm's progress. So I'll focus on what I have seen since we were first able to come out, and at the first chance we get with a better connection, will post on our site a gallery of photos waiting to go up.

We first came out on Saturday morning around perhaps 10 am. As we were in Playacar, my first impression was that the streets were not as badly blocked by downed foliage as they were after Emily, undoubtedly because Emily had already hit and reduced the crop available for Wilma. The drive through AI row in Playacar looked similar to what we saw after Emily: some palapas damaged or gone, branches or whole trees down, some signs knocked over. There was also more flooding than with Emily. We drove out the entrance to Playacar near Plaza Antigua and then rerouted by the airstrip to avoid flooding in the road. Planes there were overturned, some wiring was down and some places were damaged while others looked good.

We headed into town, came down on 4th street to 5th Ave, and then turned north to get to the hotel, seeing the same mixture of results all along. When we came down 8th we saw a lot of sand washed up on the street over the lower half, almost, of the block. It was higher on the north side of the street, where construction is ongoing on the former site of the Albatros, perhaps 3 feet or so higher than street level (hard to tell since you can't see the street).

Turning the corner onto the beach we were basically thrilled to see the hotel in such good condition. Almost all damage was limited to our restaurant, where the front bank of windows was damaged, some there but bent back in their frames, others broken, some boards still hanging and others gone who knows where. The biggest impresison was from the sand: it washed up into and more or less filled our restaurant, rising to the height of the bar, and also filled our main entrance all the way to the last step before the pool. That's 8 steps higher than beach level, under normal circumstances, so that will answer someone's question about how far up the water and sand might get here.

Beyond that, however, all our palapas were still standing and even still had their nets in place, though in a couple of places they'll have to be repaired; no glass was broken at our gym, even though that's a floor up and we didn't have time to board it up; and no glass was broken in any room, neither windows nor sliding glass doors to balconies. We also visited our guests on this same trip off-site and made sure they' were OK and gave them what report we could. We were able to return 3-4 hours later with sandwiches, snacks and water, as it seemed their biggest problem might be just plain lack of real food.

Now for today (Sunday), we arrived at the hotel in the morning to find several workers present and began clean-up and a closer inspection. The main impression of this visit was the rockiness of the beach in long stretches (though not so much north of us), a lot of sand having either been taken out by the sea or deposited in on the property. We were again happy to check the rooms and see that none had any serious damage, just some water that got into most of them. Leaving aside the point of services, they can all easily be ready for hosting people after we finish cleanup tomorrow. Indeed, 6 of those rooms are occupied tonight by 5 sets of guests who cannot yet leave and another couple who sort of had no place to go, it seems.

Those guests are nothing short of spectacular, as they have insisted on helping to clean up the sand in the restaurant and entrance along with our workers (which will be borne out by some photos when I have the chance to get them up). I cannot say enough good things about them. Luckily our kitchen was not so badly hit, as it is naturally well protected by the architecture, and we were able to get together some coffee and sandwiches and later even fire up the gas to give them and our workers some chicken and beef tacos. One of the same guests even put his professional medical expertise to work on my foot after I cut it on a piece of broken glass (stupid!). Got 3 stitches in it shortly afterward and am now giving it a rest while I write this, in a currently unoccupied office at city hall, the only place we've encountered so far that has electricity.

On that count, officials here announced this morning that while of course they don't know, they anticipate that they will have electricity back again in most areas by Tuesday or Wednesday, and in Playacar (where cables run underground and are thus less susceptible to storm damage) as early as Monday (tomorrow). We will see but our current plan is to host these guests free under current conditions until they can get out and get back home and then to accept new arrivals scheduled for Thursday and beyond with business as usual. Of course the "as usual" part will depend quite a bit on the electricity, but otherwise we will not have any problem.

In general I would say the people are in good spirits (certainly our guests are!) although most are starved for more information, especially as to when they will be able to fly out, and desperate to try to charge their cell phones (which service city hall is offering free right now) to call home. Some we know have already gotten out to Merida by bus where some flights have been rerouted, however some members of Delmy's family failed to get farther than Puerto Morelos this morning when trying to get back to Cancun and it seems that may not be possible until late this evening or tomorrow. Of course flying out also depends on how much damage was suffered at the airport, and again we don't have much in the way of reliable reports here. Anyway we expect that it is unlikely that more people will be arriving until Wednesday or Thursday, with flights to continue taking people out being the focus for the couple of days before that.

As they took me out today to get stitches, we ran into the head of the larger hotel association here talking to one of the owners of Yaxche (as is typical here, both are friends of Delmy's from long ago -- her family knows everybody), and we heard from the former the same report about electricity returning and from the latter that they planned to be open for service tomorrow for lunch (which was also confirmed by a sign posted on their door, actually). Indeed we have already seen that a few convenience stores and small taco stand-type operations are already open and serving people.

I think the best news we've heard about this whole experience so far is that there were very few or no deaths caused directly by the hurricane. One report has it that a woman was eletrocuted in an accident while preparing (exactly as was the case with Emily, actually), and that an elderly man died of a heart attack during the hurricane; another suggested that perhaps 2 people had died as a result of injuries from the explosion of a gas tank in the colosio neighborhood, although that was unconfirmed. On the other hand easily the stupidest news we've heard so far was that the head of civil protection here was quoted as saying that Playa del Carmen had been destroyed by Wilma, a claim I will be overly happy to disprove myself, if others haven't done so sufficiently already, when I have the chance to post my photos.

Well I can't think of much else right now so I'm just going to post this for what it's worth on this dial-up connection we're borrowing from someone with a working phone, post on our site some information for guests due to arrive here soon, and then get out of here. More as time permits, and thanks once again for all the encouraging comments in all of this!


Steve & Delmy

Last edited by ryberg; 10-23-2005 at 08:20 PM..
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Old 10-23-2005   #2 (permalink)
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Good to hear from you! Hope you are able to post the report soon. We're anxious to see how you are doing!
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Old 10-23-2005   #3 (permalink)
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Editing the original post it went through, thanks.

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Old 10-23-2005   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you Steve!! It's good to hear from you and know that you are all ok. The man on the scene comes through again. Take care and thinking of you and your family.
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Old 10-23-2005   #5 (permalink)
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So glad to hear from you Steve and Delmy, and that the damage was not as bad as reported. Take care, and thanks for the information.
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Old 10-23-2005   #6 (permalink)
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Steve, so glad to hear that you and your family are ok.

And thank you for taking the time to post for all of us !!!
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Old 10-23-2005   #7 (permalink)
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Great to hear from you Steve and great to hear that Playa was not "destroyed".
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Old 10-23-2005   #8 (permalink)
way into it
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Steve - Sorry about the foot, but glad to hear you are all safe otherwise. It's terrific to hear a real first-hand report that we can rely on. This definitely is encouraging news. News reporters are notoriously unreliable.
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Old 10-23-2005   #9 (permalink)
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Steve, it's great to hear that you and your family are doing well. And that Playa might be a "sunnier" place again faster than we might have been led to believe. God bless!
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Old 10-23-2005   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks so much Steve. Sure wish we were staying with you...if we get there!
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Old 10-23-2005   #11 (permalink)
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Awesome news, thanks for taking the time to tell us.
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Old 10-23-2005   #12 (permalink)
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Thank you so much Steve. Glad to hear you and your family are well and bravo to the workers and guests ! As you can see, you are greatly appriciated.
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Old 10-23-2005   #13 (permalink)
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Happy to hear everything is not as bad as the media makes it out to be. Can you tell me how bad Pakal was hit and if it was flooded or any info? Sorry to hear about your damaged but glad to hear all is well and no serious problems that can't be solved with time.
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Old 10-23-2005   #14 (permalink)
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Ditto all the above

Your phone contact yesterday with your web-master was the most intelligent and truthfull of many quotes and reports. Mucho glad your family is A-OK.
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Old 10-23-2005   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks for the first hand report and thank God we are hearing one by one that our friends in Playa are safe. The news reports out of the area are pretty scary to say the least. I even heard that water was up into the third floor of some resorts. Have no way of knowing if that is true or not, but seeing as you are so close to the water and seem to have come through "OK" (for lack of a better term) gives us hope that others are as furtunate. In the same report, they said approx 1000 homes had suffered significant damage, but they didn't say over how large an area that was. They actually sited Play del Carmen by name as being one of the areas most affected by the storm. Not the best of ways to get playa in the news I guess. Anyway, God spped to everyone there and continue to be safe. We're pulling for you.
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