What You Can Do to Help Rebuild Los Cabos

On September 14, 2014 tropical storm Odile barreled into the Baja peninsula leaving a path of unprecedented destruction wreaking havoc on hotels, homes, bridges.
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A partial list of Hurricane Odile relief funds to help rebuild Los Cabos


Forgive me. I'm writing with my heart and not my head. I've been so very sad about the devastation of Hurricane Odile, the worst hurricane to hit Los Cabos in the past 40 years.

When we began visiting Los Cabos about a decade ago, we felt like we had found Paradise. Coming from the Northeast, we relished the predictably near-perfect weather and beautiful terrain -- devoid of the humidity of the tropics. But most of all, we appreciated the hospitality of the hard-working locals who always made us feel welcome and shared their pride in their work, their culture, and their country.

On September 14, 2014 tropical storm Odile barreled into the Baja peninsula leaving a path of unprecedented destruction wreaking havoc on hotels, homes, bridges; flooding roads and whole neighborhoods; and decimating concrete structures that had seemed impenetrable. Along with local people -- the vast majority of whom worked in the hospitality industry -- more than 30,000 tourists were left stranded.

The Cat-3 storm left Los Cabos with no running water, no electricity, no cell phone service, limited medical care, long gasoline lines, closed banks and no ATMs. The international airport closed, so badly damaged that it won't be fully operational until the end of November. Because Los Cabos is geographically separated from mainland Mexico, it was difficult to mobilize help quickly.

With high surf, rain and 135 MPH winds pummeling the region, windows and doors shattered, crashing to the ground, and roofs were ripped to shreds. Rationing of food and water began as store shelves emptied. In some cases there was looting; in others, supermarkets and big box stores opened their doors to all takers because the needs were so great. One news report said it took only hours for the hurricane to destroy what had taken 25 years to build.

Over the past week, most of the remaining tourists were evacuated by military and commercial carriers; many returning with harrowing tales. Remarkably, so far, only five deaths have been directly associated with the storm. More than 100 injuries were reported, mostly from cut glass.

Sitting here in my comfortable home with every creature comfort, it's hard to imagine the desperation of all of those who are left with little or nothing. Yet the several friends I spoke to on the ground are optimistic they will recover and rebuild before high season this year. With so much need across the world, it's easy for the story of Odile to become yesterday's news.

Several relief funds have been established to help people take back their lives and return to their livelihoods.

Odile Relief Funds

To provide food, shelter, education, and help sport fishermen get back on the water to support their families

To provide humanitarian disaster relief

Set up by the luxury real estate company to support their employees who lost their homes or suffered severe damage from the storm

To support relief efforts in Cabo and the local community

Set up by the Rotary Club of Los Barriles Cabo Este to raise money for supplies to assist locals in rebuilding homes and bringing life back closer to normal

The International Community Foundation (ICF) is partnering with on-the-ground relief organizations, including the Mexican Red Cross, and their grantees throughout the region

People who live in Cabo reach out to help the people and animals left behind

To help employees rebuild their homes and their lives

Administered by Holding Hands Charities out of San Diego, donations go towards helping those in need in Cabo with supplies and by working with other organizations.

Hotel Chatter, an industry site, has a list of websites where donations can be made to assist employees of specific resorts including Las Ventanas, Capella Pedregal, Hilton Los Cabos, Esperanza Resort, and Pueblo Bonito Resorts

N.B. Unfortunately, whenever disasters occur anywhere, scammers come out of the woodwork. To the best of my knowledge, these are reputable funds. Before making any donations, do your own due diligence to check into any sponsoring organization.

Watch this video on YouTube
The New Dawn: San Jose del Cabo after Odile

For more information on the rebuilding of Los Cabos:

The CaboVillas.com blog (a company specialized in villa and resort rentals) has maintained an excellent list with up-to-date information on the opening dates of various resorts in Los Cabos. The most important way for travelers and travel writers to help is to plan their next visit to the wonderful region and help restore its economic vitality.

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Irene S. Levine, PhD is an award-winning travel writer and member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). You can follow her blog for travelers over 50 at More Time To Travel or on Twitter.