Bush Pilots Bring Relief To Baja Hurricane Victims - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Bush Pilots Bring Relief To Baja Hurricane Victims

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This past hurricane season was especially harsh in the eastern Pacific, with a total of 18 storms. In an effort to help our neighbors to the south, Baja bush pilots and our own Natasha Stenbock flew to Mexico to deliver much-needed supplies.

Hurricane Norbert crossed Baja California as a category 2 storm and slammed into Mexico's Sonora coast as a strong category 1. But the killer wasn't the 85 mph winds, rather the large amount of rainfall in a short period of time, with some reports indicating 9 inches in two hours.

"Because Alamos is surrounded by mountains and there is never strong winds, the problem was the water concentrated and there was 23 centimeters of water in 2 hours," Navajo resident Marcello Fernandez said.

Trees, signs, cars, all rolled into mud and flushed the Arroyos. Even though many people evacuated, lives were lost in the flash flooding Hundreds of homes were damaged and destroyed.

"Oh my god yeah the devastation was terrible, actually this street was a river. We get 2 meters of mud inside most of the houses in this area," nearby Alamos resident Mari Sela said.

"What was unique about this storm was in any one's memory in this village is that it became a wall of mud that inundated the properties, so those who survived which is almost everyone. Unfortunately there were fatalities, possibly 10. The dig out is very difficult," Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa owner Jim Swickard said.

While the Mexican government acted immediately to bring relief to Alamos, providing bulldozers and food, much more was needed.

"The government provides rice and beans and cooking oil, but these are clothes these are shoes, these are the things people really really need," Baja Bush Pilots President Jack McCormick said.

McCormick led the effort to bring supplies to the historic colonial town of Alamos. Airplanes from all over the southwest answered the call of duty, bringing in 10 tons of donations.

"We expected maybe 20 aircraft. We had 35 aircraft and they range anywhere from small little tigers to Cessna jets," he said.

I joined this relief, along with other San Diegans who appreciate the people and beauty of Mexico.

"There are people along the arroyos who just lost their homes lost everything and had the shoes on their feet and the clothes on their back, nothing else. so we wanted to help them," donor Elaine Boland said.

Elaine and Bruce Boland donated hundreds of pounds of clothes collected in San Diego. Like other pilots, we packed the plane to the brim.

Driving around town, we got our first look at the damage. Workers and residents wore masks for protection from the dust and potential airborne disease. The only way to get from one side of town to the other was driving through a stream. As we prepared to deliver supplies from the hangar, routes were carefully coordinated.

"They don't have nothing to wear, nothing to eat, it's like a consolation for them to have clean clothes to wear because they don't have places to wash their clothes, no water. They lost everything, most of the people in this area lost everything," Sela said.

"We are from Mexico, but those people are from the U.S. and they're working, they're cooking, it's amazing their help, so thank you for the American community here in Alamos," Navajo resident Miriam Almada said.

The rebuilding process will take some time, but even after a hurricane as fierce as Norbert, progress is being made. As for the pilots who rushed in supplies, they can't wait to return to Alamos as it was - a beautiful colonial town.

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