The Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Nora (which hit San Felipe in September 1997)
September 24th 2007. This is the tenth anniversary of the time that Hurricane Nora passed over San Felipe and caused a lot of damage to our town. We had heard of major storms coming up the Sea of Cortez before but this was the first time since the early 1960's that an actual hurricane had hit San Felipe. The Net had been in business only for about nine months and this was our first major challenge from nature. We were the only people in town who could download and distribute the satellite pictures to help make the local population aware of the magnitude of the storm that was advancing on us.
In retrospect we can look at the track of the storm from the archives of the National Hurricane center in Miami and see that it did, indeed, head straight over San Felipe as you can see in the diagram below. Nora had originated off the coast of mainland Mexico near Acapulco and appearerd to be heading out towards the west as is typical of most hurricanes in the Pacific. However, on the 23rd of September, she turned towards the north and kept on this track until she dissipated east of Las Vegas.
Nora also maintained her strength as a hurricane while crossing over the Baja landmass and then moving up the eastern coast of the peninsular from Puertecitos to the delta of the Colorado. The heaviest rains started around 2 a.m. on the morning of 25th September and continued for about six hours when the clear eye was over the town and we could see cloud all around us. More rain, though not so intense, came as the southern part of the storm passed over us later that day.
We picked up 13 inches of rain in a 12 hour period and many roads were washed out or badly damaged. The road to Puertecitos disappeared in places and remained in badly damaged condition until the repairs and reconstruction of this past year. The Mexicali road was washed away just north of the Ensenada road junction and it was three days before it was passable to cars. In fact one of the first people to get here from Mexicali was the then-Presidente Municipal, Eugenio Elorduy, our present governor, who led the trucks bringing relief supplies to town. To this day you can still see the flood path that crosses Ave Mar Caribe east of the Glorietta. Waters rushed through the Los Arcos colonia, ending up at the old shipyard at the end of the Malecon. Many people had built homes in this Arroyo which were washed away; they had to be relocated to new land. No lives were lost but four children were swept away by the waters but later found safe on the roof of an old house.
I recall going to visit Pat Butler at EL Dorado and there was three feet of mud in Juanitos Cantina. Many other businesses were damaged. At the Net we had many leaks through the roof and it is a miracle that our servers continued to operate - we had to rig up blue tarpaulins over them to kee the rainwater off. Our office floor was probably three inches deep in water!
At that time we had our first digital camera - an Olympus that could take 36 pictures at 320x240 pixels. Some of those early pictures are still in our archives and I am putting a link here so you can look at 1997 San Felipe and the cleanup operations. (ej) (P.S. please do not use the old email links - they don't work anymore.)