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The view of the devastation in Acapulco as the city waits for help after hurricane


Let's go to the resort city of Acapulco, Mexico, where, more than 36 hours after a monster hurricane made direct impact, little help has arrived. The storm caused widespread devastation and killed at least 27 people. Much of the city of nearly a million people is without electricity, and communication is spotty. NPR's Eyder Peralta is in Acapulco and joins us now via satellite. Hi, Eyder.


SUMMERS: So Eyder, tell us what you're seeing there. What are people telling you?

PERALTA: I mean, look, this is horrific and apocalyptic. Right now, I am on what used to be the main tourist drag. It's right on the bay, and almost every building here has suffered some damage. Those Category 5 winds stripped some of the high-rises here to bare concrete, and the streets are just full of people. They're in cars. They're walking. They're in a kind of daze, trying to survive.

And as we've been walking around, there's also a lot of looting happening. There are people who are, of course, stealing big-screen TVs and furniture, but I also met a young man who had been going from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for medicine for his sick aunt. I also met a woman who sent her young son into the supermarket to get some ice and some food, and she told me how embarrassing that this awful situation had made them thieves. What's more, she said, she has money, but none of the stores are open.

SUMMERS: The people there that you're talking to - are they getting any help from the Mexican government - food, water, medical supplies, anything?

PERALTA: We have seen very little help here. We have seen the military trying to clear some of the streets. And there are a lot of workers for the electricity company here, but we haven't seen a lot of other presence. Earlier, we were at one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of Acapulco, and it's devastating. Every house we walked into was covered in mud. Residents said that, at the peak of the storm, they were walking in chest-high water. And no one - no one - not the federal government, not the state government - has brought them even a bottle of water. Ana Laura Dominguez (ph) and Lupita Abraham (ph) said they had nothing. Let's listen.

LUPITA ABRAHAM: (Speaking Spanish, crying).

ANA LAURA DOMINGUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

PERALTA: And at the end there, Dominguez says, "at least we're alive." Some neighbors just up the street drowned.

SUMMERS: Oh, my goodness. Eyder, just help us understand - for people who cannot see what you are seeing, what does it look like there? What kind of damage have you seen?

PERALTA: I mean, it's stunning. The destruction is everywhere - blown-off roofs. Whole facades of buildings look like they've been peeled off. But what is truly heartbreaking is that - the regular people who have lost everything that they have built for decades. One older lady that I met earlier today couldn't stop crying. She had been trying to get the mud out of her house with a broom, but she couldn't make any progress. And she said, I'm so tired. And then, when she showed me her washing machine, she broke down. She had bought it just a few days ago, and she has no idea how she's going to rebuild.

SUMMERS: NPR's Eyder Peralta on the ground in Acapulco, Mexico.

(SOUNDBITE OF DE LA SOUL'S "GREYHOUNDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.