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Texas-Mexico Gulf Border Area Prepares for Hurricane Emily


Hurricane Emily weakened somewhat after passing over Mexico's Yucatan peninsula Monday, but it is regaining strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and heading towards an area just south of the border between Mexico's state of Tamaulipas and the U.S. state of Texas.

Storm trackers say hurricane-force winds extend out 64 kilometers from Emily's center and strong winds could affect an area more than 240 kilometers from the center. If the hurricane remains on track, it will make landfall on the northern Mexico coast around midnight local time, but area residents should begin to experience its effects well before that.

Workers board up windows of a business in South Padre Island, Texas
As recently as Monday, thousands of vacationers remained on South Padre Island, just northeast of the Texas border town of Brownsville. But Louise St. Germain, a spokesperson for the National Red Cross currently in Brownsville, tells VOA the vacationers are now rushing to leave.

"People are starting to leave the island," she said. "People are beginning to take some of those steps to prepare, we have seen a lot of campers on the road, heading out, heading for higher ground."

Ms. St. Germain says there are now 1,200 Red Cross volunteers in place in Texas and that several shelters are now available to South Texas residents who live in low-lying areas that could flood. Brownsville is just across the border from the Mexican city of Matamoros, where the Red Cross, known there as the Cruz Roja, is taking similar measures.

Louise St. Germain says there is no direct coordination with organizations in Mexico, but that volunteers on the U.S. side are ready to provide assistance if requested.

"Of course, after the landfall of Emily, the American Red Cross would extend their help, if need be, but we would not go into Mexico unless they did, indeed, ask for the help," she said.

Hurricane Emily began as a tropical depression in the Atlantic ocean on July 10 and quickly turned into a hurricane, crossing into the Caribbean and then hitting Mexico's Yucatan coastline on Monday with 217-kilometer-per-hour winds. Damage to property in the popular Mexican resort area was limited, but authorities are still assessing the storm's effect farther inland where many indigenous Mayan people live in rustic houses that would not offer much protection from hurricane winds and rain.