BREWING STORM: In this satellite image, Hurricane Jimena is seen off the coast of Mexico. (Photo: NOAA/Associated Press)
As a near-Category 5 hurricane bears down upon them, many residents of Mexico’s Baja peninsula are choosing to ride out the storm despite efforts by authorities to evacuate some 10,000 shantytown residents. The residents are refusing to take temporary shelter, reportedly because they’re afraid their belongings will be stolen while they’re gone.
Hurricane Jimena is expected to make landfall on the Baja peninsula by Tuesday evening. Early Tuesday, the storm was centered about 185 miles south of the popular resort town Cabo San Lucas and traveling northwest at 12 mph. The hurricane is packing 155 mph winds and could bring as much as 15 inches of rain to the area.
While most tourists have heeded the warnings to evacuate ahead of the storm’s arrival, about 7,000 remain, including some in Cabo who are eager to watch the storm and play in the waves along the beaches. Clay Hurst, a 52-year-old fencing contractor from Malibu, Calif., says he’s looking forward to being in the middle of the powerful hurricane when it arrives.
"We were advised to leave, but we want to be here," Hurst told the New York Daily News. "I've always wanted to be in one ... a real bad one."
Meanwhile, many locals are waiting in long lines at supermarkets for emergency supplies and attempting to fortify their windows with masking tape. Authorities are currently working to set up shelters in schools and find some way to protect the homeless.
Residents may not have a choice much longer. The government has warned that those who refuse to evacuate will soon be forced to do so.
"We are going to start by inviting people to leave ... the moment will come when we will have to make it obligatory," said Garibaldo Romero, interior secretary for the municipal government.