MONTERREY Mexico (Reuters) – Intense rain from Hurricane Alex shut down Mexico’s richest city, Monterrey, on Friday, as floods killed six people, swept away cars and swamped wealthy suburbs with mud and rocks.
More than a year’s worth of rain fell in three days from the first named Atlantic storm of the 2010 season, swelling dry river beds and destroying chunks of highway in the city, 125 miles (200 km) south of McAllen, Texas.
One woman was crushed to death by a mudslide as huge rocks from the surrounding mountains crashed down on roads.
“I thought we were going to die,” housewife Lesly Ramos told local radio as she surveyed her home filled with rocks and mud in a middle-class suburb.
The floods dragged away furniture from mansions in the San Pedro Garza Garcia suburb, Mexico’s wealthiest municipality, and buffalo were washed out of the city zoo.
Normally spared from hurricanes coming off the Gulf of Mexico, Monterrey was caught unprepared for the storm that came ashore as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday night after it killed 12 people in Central America but missed oil rigs in the Gulf.
The storm powered inland in Mexico, bringing up to 30 inches (80 cm) of rain in some areas of Monterrey.
“That is more than the accumulated amount of rain in the 365 days of the year,” said Jorge Camacho, director of rescue services in Nuevo Leon state, of which Monterrey is the capital.
Many businesses in the city, which has the highest per capita income in Mexico and is home to drinks giant Femsa and global cement maker Cemex, shuttered as authorities closed bridges over the Santa Catarina river, usually bone-dry but surging on Friday.
Tens of thousands of homes were without water and electricity on Friday and many huddled in shelters. Although the rain lessened, authorities were still on high alert.