Hurricane Odile was the most powerful storm ever to hit Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. When she swept across the Cabo San Lucas resort area in September, 2014, Odile packed winds of up to 125 mph (200 km/hr.) and dumped more than 12 inches (320 mm) of rain.
The exceptionally violent storm wreaked havoc across the tourist region. Flooding was extensive, windows in hotels and homes shattered like eggshells, and falling trees and power poles crippled communications. The area was completely without drinking water and power for days. Approximately 30,000 tourists were driven out of their hotels and rental homes.
The challenge: At the height of the storm, no one outside of Los Cabos knew what was going on – except that things were very bad.
The storm had effectively cut off the area from the rest of the world.
As the storm was peaking, the security director of one of our Fortune 500 clients contacted us. One of their executives and a friend were last heard of at 10 pm on September 15: the house they were staying in was heavily damaged, they had a few bottles of water and some peanuts but no electricity, transportation or running water.
Could Allied Universal® Executive Protection & Intelligence Services find out what was going on in Los Cabos, and how to evacuate the executive and his friend if necessary?
The solution: After several unsuccessful attempts to reach our usual contacts in Los Cabos – security directors at high-end hotels and top-ranking members of the local police – we escalated communication to another level, a senior military officer we know in Mexico.
Our contact was able to open up a communication link with the Mexican military on the ground in Los Cabos, providing us with real-time local intelligence.
In less than an hour, we were able to inform our client what was happening on the ground. We could confirm that there had not been any deaths, and relate that the military and police were safeguarding tourists in shelters. Tourist evacuations had already begun, and local authorities were working around the clock to restore power and communications to the devastated area. We then provided our client with three evacuation and support options.
The results: Fortunately, our travelers were unharmed and could be evacuated by the Mexican government shortly after the storm ended.
The incident confirms the value of maintaining a strong local network. We were able to get critical information out of Los Cabos long before the newswires knew what was going on, and were ready to evacuate if necessary. When normal communications are down, having another way to connect can go a long way to providing our clients with peace of mind.