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Mexico recovering after Hurricane Willa’s ‘end of world’ onslaught

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Residents on Mexico’s Pacific Coast on Wednesday began clearing up the wreckage left by Hurricane Willa, which ripped through towns overnight, tearing off rooftops, downing power lines and splitting trees apart.

Willa, a powerful Category 3 hurricane, hit the northwestern state of Sinaloa late on Tuesday as one of the strongest storms to lash the coast in recent years, with winds of up to 120 miles per hour (195 km per hour).

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“I thought it was the end of the world,” said Alma Rosa Ramirez, a 45-year-old resident of the town of Escuinapa, as she described how her whole house rattled in the blasting winds.

Now with the sun peeking through and wind nearly at a standstill, Ramirez and scores of other residents took to the streets to pick up debris, while emergency crews poured in to work on reestablishing basic services.

Ramirez arrived at her tiny fruit and vegetable stand in the shadow of a large stone church in Escuinapa’s central square, saying she feared the storm had devastated the farming region that supplies her with the carrots, squash and chilis she sells.

“There’s going to be a lot of poverty,” she said.

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No deaths have been reported as thousands of people were evacuated from coastal towns and resorts before the storm hit.

“The population took cover in time,” said Luis Felipe Puente, head of the country’s Civil Protection agency.

On the other side of Escuinapa, 74-year-old retiree Virginia Medina sat in a white plastic chair, a 4-week-old kitten winding between her legs, as she took in the damage.

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Willa showed her little mercy: a metal corrugated roof collapsed, water pooled in the kitchen and gnarled branches littered Medina’s front patio and backyard.

“I can’t even walk in my backyard … Here in the neighborhood a lot of walls came tumbling down. Now there is no power, no gas, there’s nothing,” Medina said.

POWER CUTS
Along a stretch of a two-lane highway southwest of Escuinapa, workers from Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission tended to countless downed power lines.

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Noe Mauricio, a worker wearing a yellow helmet and orange vest, stood in the road directing traffic under steady rain. He said it could take two weeks to re-establish power in the area.

“We’re doing it as fast as possible but with the wind all of them fell,” Mauricio added, referring to the 30-km-long (18.5-mile-long) string of fallen electricity poles.

A map of the area showed Los Canales lagoon to one side of the highway. Flood waters had filled in the other side too, leaving the tops of some trees and a fence sticking out.

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Willa struck the coast about 50 miles (80 km) south of Mazatlan, a major city and tourist resort in Sinaloa.

The hurricane had reached rare Category 5 status on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, on Monday, with winds nearing 160 miles per hour (260 kph), as it headed toward the coast.

The storm had dissipated by mid-morning as it moved quickly inland over northwest-central Mexico on Wednesday. It was still expected to dump heavy rains across the region.

By then, the storm was about 75 miles (120 km) west of the city of Monterrey, blowing maximum sustained winds of 25 mph(40 km), the Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

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Downpours in Mexico prior to Willa’s arrival had heightened the risk of flooding, and the NHC said the storm could drench some areas in as much as 18 inches (45 cm) of rain.

Additional reporting by Dave Graham and Brendan O’Brien; writing by Anthony Esposito and Daina Beth Solomon; editing by G Crosse and Sandra Maler


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘The president got his head handed to him’: CNN panel points out GOP is fleeing Trump after Syria vote

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A CNN panel discussion on Donald Trump's very bad Wednesday turned to a House vote that saw Republicans joining with Democrats en masse in condemning the president's actions in Syria, with the panelists agreeing it is bad sign for Trump's future.

Speaking with hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, CNN regulars Jeffrey Toobin and Dana Bash said Trump is facing big problems as impeachment looms.

According to Bash, a big part of Trump's bad day was word of his "meltdown" on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spreading to congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

As she noted the now-famous picture of Pelosi confronting the president, Bash explained, "It's hard to see how that picture shows anything other than her literally and figuratively standing up to the president, particularly after what we now are told from people on both sides of the aisle who were in that room happened where the president was, again to use his words, 'rude to her'"

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‘Wonder who wrote this nice tweet’: Trump offers surprisingly ‘warm condolences’ to Cummings family

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President Donald Trump offered his "warmest condolences" to the family of Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died at 68 -- but many had doubts about who wrote that message.

The president had frequently attacked Cummings, who commanded respect and admiration from Democrats and Republicans alike, and social media users had been waiting to see Trump's reaction to the Maryland Democrat's passing.

Trump extended a message to the lawmaker's family and friends, and said that Cummings' voice would be nearly impossible to replace.

"My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings," Trump tweeted. "I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!"

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‘Belligerent from the get-go’: Dem senator gives blow-by-blow account of Trump’s meltdown on Pelosi

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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) gave a detailed account of the emotional meltdown that President Donald Trump had with congressional Democrats at the White House on Wednesday.

Appearing on CNN Thursday morning, Menendez broke down how Trump started raging at Democrats from the second he entered the room.

"The meeting started off with the president walking in and slamming down his files on the table," Menendez said. "It was belligerent from the get-go... you have the president of the United States, who is supposed to bring our country together, particularly in times of challenges, [calling] the Speaker a third-rate politician."

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