Olé AirMag Special Report

Olé Airlines Pledges 250.000 pesos to Clean-Up Effort

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The storm surge and large waves damaged the Malecon and local businesses on Oct. 25.

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The Malecon looking towards
Hotel Rosita after the strongest
waves hit land.

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The Zoo, one of Puerto Vallarta's most popular discos, really got

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During Kenna's fury, Vallarta's
streets became rivers.
Note upside-down Stop sign!

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Current Conditions
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Oct. 25 Advisory
Warning on that faithful day!

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Extra Hurricane Coverage
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¡Puerto Vallarta Sigue en Pie!

"PV Still Stands!"

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Even More Kenna Pics


A massive restoration of this Pacific resort is well under way following the devastating attack of Hurricane Kenna on Oct. 25. In Jalisco, and in the neighbouring state of Nayarit, dozens of residents and tourists lost their lives, thousands were evacuated and hundreds were left homeless as the tropical storm roared in from the southwest and struck the coastline.

Kenna left an estimated $50 million U.S. in property damage. Most of streets in El Centro were swamped with waist-high water and hundreds of cars were turned over and flooded. Many of the bars and restaurants on the Malecón boardwalk were severely damaged. Kenna left knee-deep piles of large rocks throughout the downtown streets.

Although there were deaths in Jalisco, the majority of Puerto Vallarta was unaffected and virtually untouched. Apart from the Malecón, little destruction occurred from the winds or the rain. The damage that did occur was due to the storm surge and large waves.

Kenna, once a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph (260 kph) winds, pummelled Puerto Vallarta as it passed by offshore on Friday morning before slamming into San Blas (Nayarit), a smaller, more rustic tourist town 80 miles (130 km) to the north.

Officials in San Blas said a woman died from a falling wall. Most of the buildings in San Blas were destroyed or badly damaged and fishing boats were toppled at the docks. Power was knocked out to a wide region and roads were slashed.

By 13:00 Friday, Kenna had completely passed over, leaving a beautiful blue sky. The moment it was safe to venture out, Puerto Vallartans instantly started cleaning up. By Saturday afternoon, many damaged businesses were already clean and open. Olé Airlines set up a temporary Emergency Command Post on Playa los Muertos and fed hundreds of relief workers.

The hardest hit areas were on Los Muertos Beach, the Malecón and the Hotel Zone. Among eleven hotels that are still closed, Sheraton Buganvilias Resort reported extensive damage due to 30 foot waves. One tower is severely damaged. The lobby was filled with sand and a 5-foot in diameter boulder from the ocean crashed through the palapa. Sheraton announced a revised re-opening date of Feb. 12, 2003.

Most of the damage to these hotels was due to water flooding the lobby areas. They are being remodelled immediately. The other hotels are open and operational. There was little disruption in the Marina, Nuevo Vallarta and the northern areas of Bahia de Banderas.

Two weeks following Kenna, hundreds of residents were treated for dengue fever after contracting the disease from open pools of bacteria-laden still water.

A small army has been working around the clock to restore the Malecón to its original splendour. Many restobars along the Malecón were open within hours of Kenna including Carlos O'Briens, The Zoo, Kahlua, Mogambo, and Las Palomas.

Sadly, the famous arches at Los Arcos Amphitheatre in front of the Main Plaza were torn down by Kenna in its fury! Hopefully, the famous Malecón landmark and a traditional symbol of Puerto Vallarta will be back up within three weeks. The original architect, Martín Distancia Barragán, is committed to rebuilding it. Although the quarry for the porous cantera stone originally used is no longer in operation, a similar stone — also cantera, but less porous and more resistant — will actually be better. One of the best-known sculptors for this type of stone, Martín has no estimate yet on the cost of the replacement.

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Puerto Vallarta Board of Tourism Official Press Release

PUERTO VALLARTA, Jalisco (Oct. 29, 2002) -- Information from Puerto Vallarta in the aftermath of Hurricane Kenna is positive. According to initial reports, Kenna has not caused any significant damage to the major resort destination of Puerto Vallarta. Although some storm surges had been reported, there have been no reports of major structural damage or injuries and Puerto Vallarta is utilizing its Number One resource, its amicable people, to jumpstart the destination's resurgence.

"The unification of our entire population has been amazing. From taxi drivers and airport staff to hoteliers and shop owners, this destination is pulling together to welcome guests," said Dennis Whitelaw, president of the Puerto Vallarta Board of Tourism. "We're known for our 'remarkable amiability' and it shows in this effort. The city is back up and running; the good attitude and demeanor of the people is what is making this effort strong."

With Monday's visit of President Vicente Fox to Puerto Vallarta, the destination has certainly rallied for a quick clean-up. The efforts, led by the Governor of the State of Jalisco, Francisco Ramirez Acuna, are moving full-steam ahead with great support. "The local government is on board, the state government is on board and the federal government is on board," said Whitelaw. "This is true unification for tourism." The Secretary of Tourism Leticia Navarro will visit on Tuesday.

The tourism infrastructure fared the storm well as each of the resorts in the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta remain without major incident, and 90% of the resorts are operating under normal conditions. The remaining 10% (about 1,600 rooms) are in a concentrated effort to restore what was affected. A process, Whitelaw states, will take about, "two to three weeks."

Dorado Bar on Los Muertos got smashed!
El Dorado Bar was one of many beachside cafés wrecked by Kenna

The charming "Malecón" boardwalk promenade took in a bit of storm surge, however, the rain has long since stopped, the sun is shining and shop owners and essentially "cleaning up," according to Whitelaw.

"We received some water and general cosmetic damage, some trees were blown about, and swimming pools soon became infinity pools, but overall, Puerto Vallarta weathered the storm pretty well. From an overall resort opinion, in 7-10 days the destination will look good to visitors."

Immediate actions were taken to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the various destinations throughout the popular tourist destination. Officials shut down coastal highways in Jalisco as the storm approached. In addition, most hotels provided stranded guests with discounted rates for their "extended" stay.

The hotels implemented hospitality areas for their guests and of course, advised them from going outdoors. Puerto Vallarta's International Airport remained closed from 10:00 to 14:00 and has been open again for operation of major airlines that have started their scheduled operation. During the storm, the airport was closed and passengers were accommodated with special rates offered by various hotels.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Kenna hit land near the fishing and tourist town of San Blas, about 120 miles (200 km) north of Puerto Vallarta. Sustained winds dropped to 140 mph (225 kph) before the storm made landfall, then slipped further to 80 mph (130 kph) as the storm raced into north-central Mexico in the direction of Texas at 24 mph (39 kph).

Puerto Vallarta was selected by CONDE NAST TRAVELER as the eighth-best destination in the world in their annual "Reader's Choice Awards" in the November 2001 issue, as well as Number One international destination because of the "remarkable amiability of the local folk." Puerto Vallarta was the only Mexican destination that made the list.

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Olé Airlines is not responsible for the content, accuracy or opinions contained in this press release.