Hurricane bearing down on Baja Peninsula

Associated Press / September 1, 2009

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LOS CABOS, Mexico - Hurricane Jimena roared toward Mexico’s resort-studded Baja California Peninsula yesterday, prompting emergency workers to set up makeshift shelters and chasing away an international finance conference.

Jimena, an extremely dangerous and strengthening storm, was just short of Category 5 status. The storm had maximum sustained winds near 155 miles per hour late yesterday, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

At least 10,000 families will be evacuated from potential flood zones, said Francisco Cota, the local director of Civil Protection.

A spokesman for the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information said it decided yesterday to move the conference - including more than 170 representatives from 54 countries - to Mexico City, even though some delegates had already arrived in Los Cabos.

Mayor Oscar Nunez of Los Cabos said people in poorly constructed homes face “a huge potential risk’’ right now and they may be forced to evacuate.

Brenda Munoz, who lost her home to a 2001 hurricane, was taking no chances and stocking up on food this time.

“I remember when Hurricane Juliette hit with a lot of intensity. It flattened our home, lots of flooding, lots of disaster,’’ Munoz said in Cabo San Lucas. “We’re already prepared with food and everything so it won’t catch us off guard.’’

As rain started falling yesterday morning, Mitch Williams of Orange County, Calif., waited at the airport to fly home from his vacation. “I know that it’s getting closer. . . . The hurricane can do a lot of damage if it hits at that strength,’’ he said.