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Hurricane Wilma 2005 Recovery Update
NOTE: Even though this section of information was prepared just after Wilma in 2005, it remains on the website as a testament of what it's like to have survived the most powerful hurricane in history.

Those of you reading this already know that Cozumel as well as the entire Maya Riviera Coast of Mexico sustained a direct hit back in October 2005 from slow moving hurricane WILMA. According to those who have been here the longest, WILMA was an even worse storm than the legendary GILBERT of 1988 that weíve all heard talk of these many years. In addition, according to news reports, WILMA was the worst storm ever recorded in history in the Atlantic. WILMA moved over the island of Cozumel from south to north with the eye passing directly over the northern tip of the island. A strong northerly front that was moving southward caused WILMA to literally stall over top of us and at one point the hurricane was only moving at 3 km per hour.

The strength of the storm coupled with its slow movement created catastrophic force winds, wave action and rain which caused tremendous damage to the island not only on the beachfront areas but well inland as well. For example there were as many fallen power poles on Ave 65 (12 blocks inland) as there were on Melgar beach front street.

This regular update is intended to provide some information on the state of things as we know it and to provide reassurance to all of our many family, friends and valued customers who are wondering how we are. As more folks come on line now, more information will appear from those of us who are actually here on the island surviving in the aftermath of WILMA.

A Critical Point for those who want to help the Island: Many Cozumel businesses, due to sheer devastation, have had to release many or all of their employees pending the return of tourism to the island. So the sooner tourists return to the island, the sooner the economic impact of WILMA will be behind us as these folks are able to return to their jobs and stabilize their lives once again.

Can't travel but still want to help? See our section outlining the many ways you can make a difference!

Check out how the community put the island back together - 1 year after Wilma Then and Now
Report Update as of November 16, 2005 Update Archives: 
This week marked the much anticipated arrival of the first cruise ships returning to Cozumel since hurricane Wilma.

Throughout the past 2 weeks, everyone has been focused on this date trying to "normalize" things as much as possible so that tourism can return to the island for the high season.

The clean up job for the island has been enormous and will continue for some time to come. The initial focus of the clean up was in the downtown area where the sea wall has been repaired in many places, the washed out areas of the street have been completely and permanently repaired with stamped concrete and new palm trees and grass put in place in the center median.

It has been inspiring to watch Cozumel pull together as a community to work toward a common cause. It is hard to comprehend the level of detailed cleaning that has been necessary in the wake of Wilma. Since Melgar was basically awash in sand and rubble for 2 days of the storm, there was sediment everywhere. The big bulldozing equipment did a fantastic job of removing the big stuff but since then itís been detail work of those with brooms and buckets and mops. In the spirit of community stewardship, Melgar has literally been swept by hand from SEDANA to just beyond Hotel Cozumel and the brigadas will not stop until they get all the way to Puerta Maya.

Many Federal, state and local service organizations have tried to keep everyone motivated by offering volunteers t-shirts which they wear with pride. Inspirational bumper stickers are being plastered on cars as they wait at intersections. And many storefronts and businesses have hung banners with slogans of encouragement to keep the clean up going.

On Monday the 14th, 2 ships moored just out from the Muelle Fiscal in downtown San Miguel. Passengers were then tendered into the pier where the Playa Del Carman/Cozumel ferry usually docks since it suffered only minor damage from Wilma and was the first to become functional again.

Throughout the week the cruise passengers disembark in downtown to find dancers, music and a festive party being thrown in their honor to symbolically welcome cruise passengers back to Cozumel. The downtown area is alive and buzzing with storefronts open and ready for business. PAMA has already begun decorating their storefront for Christmas. Repair work on all piers and damaged stores is continuing at a rapid pace as everyone tries to get ready for the high season.

The wonderful thing to see this week is how the tourists are venturing farther back into the downtown area. Typically cruise passengers are encouraged by their ships to simply stay on Melgar and there are so many storefronts there that visitors end up only seeing this area of Cozumel. But now, with many of the Melgar stores still in the final phases of remodeling, cruise passengers are making an adventure of it and exploring different parts of Cozumel and venturing as far back as 30 Avenida. This willingness of visitors to see more of the island that just "front street" is exciting to witness and something everyone wants to see continue from now on.

Monday also marked the end of "Ley Seca" (no alcohol sales or consumption in public) which has been enforced throughout the island since just before the hurricane. Truth be told, itís not certain really if the festivities in town were in celebration of the arriving guests or the ability to consume beer again!

Cozumel is back on its feet again and economically trying to recover from 2 horrific hurricanes this season: Emily and Wilma. Everyone on the island is to be commended for their outstanding efforts these past few months and particularly in these past 3 weeks since Wilma in getting the island up and going again for tourism.

We are ready here on the island for folks to return but it is up to vacationers to create the demand for airlines to fly here again as many have reduced or eliminated all together their flights to Cozumel. So do your part to help Cozumel and let the airlines in your area know you want to come to Cozumel!!
Associated Photos    (click on thumbnail image to view larger version)


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