by Michael J. Shapiro | September 19, 2014

The Mexican government, along with the military, the Federal Electricity Commission and the National Water Commission, have been attempting to restore order and public services in the state of Baja California Sur, which this week was devastated by Hurricane Odile. According to Mexico's Secretary of Tourism Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the military has provided airlift service to help more than 5,000 tourists return home. Local officials estimated earlier this week that there were 30,000 tourists in the state when the hurricane hit; Ruiz Massieu said that the Mexican federal government has guaranteed the evacuation of all tourists. Meanwhile, the Los Cabos International Airport remains closed, at least until late next week.

As of Thursday morning, 23 percent of electrical services had been restored in the state capital city of La Paz, and 60 percent had been restored in the northern part of Baja California Sur. Additional personnel and equipment have been deployed to Los Cabos, on the southern tip of the peninsula, where the damage has been most extensive and services are more difficult to restore. Emergency electricity plants are being installed. Officials also are working to restore the fresh water supply; they have stated that no major damage has been sustained to the infrastructure or wells.

Shelters have been constructed for more than 11,000 displaced people, according to officials who added that food supplies are guaranteed. But there have been widespread reports of looting, and witnesses say that aid was difficult to find. "We didn't see anyone from the government, or anyone who could answer any questions, for three days," said Bryan Hernández Lussier, a 21-year-old student from Guadalajara, Mexico, who was visiting San José del Cabo. Hernández and his friends saw looters clear out an Oxxo, a local convenience store, of what little food remained in the store.

The Royal Solaris Los Cabos, where Hernández and his friends were staying, was not as badly damaged as the other resorts in the area. But the resort expected guests to pay for the additional nights, said Hernández. "There was no electricity. Where do you get the cash to pay them? The machines weren't working. And they didn't have a way to take credit cards." Hernández added that the neighboring Mayan Palace and Barcelo resorts were severely damaged but were doing what they could to shelter guests.

In an attempt to reduce the threat that looting would expand from stores to private residences, reported the Associated Press, police officers will be questioning anyone who is out after nightfall. Another hurricane, Polo, is expected to bring more inclement weather this weekend, although the main force of the storm should remain offshore.

Some properties that sustained more minor damage, such as the Wyndham Cabo San Lucas, are remaining open on a limited basis.