Mulege businesses continue slow recovery from Hurricane Jimena

SPOKANE - The town of Mulege, Mexico was devastated by a crippling hurricane two months ago. While the community has come together to make progress in cleaning up they still have a long ways to go.

When Hurricane Jimena struck in early September, very little was spared in this tiny coastal community of Mulege. Homes and businesses were overwhelmed by flooding, vehicles were thrown about and lives shattered.

It was this devastation that greeted Coeur d?Alene pilot Ron Polley when he first traveled to Mulege in September with relief supplies for the community. He traveled back earlier this month, this time with school supplies for children, to find much has changed.

The streets are beginning to show life again, vendors have reopened their shops and traffic is starting to flow again. Unfortunately local business owners in Mulege say its all a façade.

?Nothing changed. Change ? little,? store owner Javier Alvoro Padilla said.

Javiar runs a corner convenience store in downtown Mulege. He says that after the disaster hit, the need was enormous; but now the focus is the economy. The local economy thrives on tourism but Javiar says the tourists haven?t returned to Mulege.

Restaurant owner and long time resident Francisco Marron points to the river as another problem spot for the community since Jimena made landfall.

?I need them to clean the river, a lot of problem for the river,? Francisco said.

Unless the river is dredged or has a better dam system in place Francisco says the flooding will continue and Mulege will see the same thing the next time a storm hits. When Jimena came barreling through in early September it overwhelmed the Mulege river.

The townspeople say the water level reached near the top of the bridge and a road was wiped out. Any homes or businesses along the rivers edge had little chance of avoiding its powerful wake.

Since tourism is the life-blood of Mulege's economy, the answer and plea to helping them get back on their feet, according to Francisco, is simple.

?The tourists come into Mulege, you know Mulege is very nice people, nice beaches, all the people ? Corazon,? Francisco said, point toward his heart.