“After my glass broke, I hid in the bathroom,” says Shreveport native, David Key.
The extent of the disaster has been difficult to understand. According to multiple reports, 11 Americans are among the 58 missing and the death toll has climbed to 48.
Key moved from New Orleans to Isla Mujeres, Mexico roughly three and a half years ago, living on a sailboat near Cancun prior to his move to Acapulco. And on his sailboat, he’s lived through countless storms and a handful of hurricanes, however, Key has never experienced anything like Hurricane Otis.
His condo in Acapulco is surrounded by high-rise hotels and when Hurricane Otis slammed into Acapulco over 377 hotels were destroyed.
“Later that night, I looked again because I knew there was a storm coming up the coast. You know, whether to expect rain or whatever but- ‘Oh yeah it’s a Category 5 Hurricane now,'” details Key.
The former Marine described Otis as sounding like a freight train with howling winds. He was not concerned until his windows started breaking and debris flying through the window.
According to NBC’s Hurricane Specialist, Josh Morales, “Otis then proceeded to go from a 50 mph low-end tropical storm at 11 p.m. on Monday night to a 160 mph category 5 hurricane 24 hours later. Just on Tuesday afternoon, Otis grew from a tropical storm into a category 3 hurricane in the span of six hours!”
Key said there is still no electricity and limited areas with cellphone service leading to over 1 million residents – young and old – looting the stores until they were empty.
After the National Guard cleared the debris from the entrance of his condo. He and his neighbor, Jerry hired an explorer to take them to check on his neighbor’s elderly father and said he was okay. His house was untouched by Otis.
Key saw residents standing in line with containers to collect gas from an electrician sleeping on a bench.
All hotels and condos impacted had no power, no water, no windows, and missing ceiling tiles.
“Our security guard – they were already shooting at people trying to climb our gate. You know, that was only two days after the hurricane and so once they’ve run out of food they looted – I don’t want to be here,” Key recalled.
After a few days, Key said Jerry’s sister drove from Mexico City to distribute supplies. She took extreme precautions as they drove from one side of Acapulco towards the airport which took around five hours.
He said the city became dangerous as the sun went down. People were stopping others at gunpoint to see if they had anything of value.
“She (Jerry’s sister) hired an armed driver to drive us back and forth into the city because the highway in between you’ll have people, especially at night get out with four people and get out there and block the road.”
Key said he saw boat noses sticking out in the coast.
Key said he was one of the lucky ones with the means to leave. The airport reopened after three days and the government had free flights for residents to go to Mexico City a three-hour drive away.
“The reality is if – if you’re there and you don’t have the ability to pick up and leave. You know, you’re there and it’s going to be a while before they’ll get the power back on and before they can restock any of the stores. So if you don’t loot, you’re really not going to have anything to eat.”
He says he is relieved there were affordable flights back to Shreveport and hopes the city will restore its power and rebuild.