Walmex closed 28 stores for storm

Move allowed Walmart’s operations in Acapulco to clean up

Yachts damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Otis fill a harbor in Acapulco, Mexico, earlier this month.
(AP/Marco Ugarte)
Yachts damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Otis fill a harbor in Acapulco, Mexico, earlier this month. (AP/Marco Ugarte)

Walmart Inc.'s operations in Mexico had to temporarily close some stores around Acapulco late last month when the city was hit by a Category 5 hurricane.

Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica, frequently referred to as Walmex, closed 28 of its stores in Acapulco as Hurricane Otis approached the city on Oct. 25.

A Walmart spokeswoman said Friday that 13 stores are open while 15 stores remain closed.

The closed stores "are expected to come online through the weekend and into next week," she said. "All associates are accounted for with no casualties."

Also, Walmex's Bodega Aurrera stores and Walmart Supercenters near Acapulco have cut prices by 30% on essential products such as canned foods, flour, milk and medications.

All employees will keep their jobs and regular wages, the spokeswoman said.

Looters emptied shelves at stores throughout the city in the days after the storm, The Associated Press reported. Walmart didn't say whether any of its stores were looted.

An estimate of how much the store closures would cost Walmart was not immediately available.

Walmart said it's coordinating relief efforts for its employees in and around Acapulco through its Emergency Operations Center in Bentonville. Most of Walmart's workers have already received supplies, the spokeswoman said.

Walmart, Walmex and their respective foundations donated $5.8 million to relief organizations, Walmart said.

These funds will support efforts such as the donation of 275 tons of food, personal hygiene items and cleaning products to communities in the state of Guerrero through the Mexican Red Cross.

Walmex is opening four community kitchens in Acapulco that will offer free food to the community for the next two months in alliance with the Mexican Red Cross, World Central Kitchen and other organizations.

Hurricane Otis made landfall near Acapulco with sustained winds of 165 mph. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had rapidly intensified off the coast, with wind speeds increasing by 115 mph in 24 hours, leaving residents little time to prepare or evacuate.

Acapulco is a city of about 1 million residents on Mexico's southern Pacific coast. It's also a popular tourist destination.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite storm-tracking office, Hurricane Otis was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the eastern Pacific since satellites began tracking weather conditions in the early 1970s.

Hurricane Patricia in 2015 is the only other storm on record in the Eastern Pacific that intensified faster than Otis before making landfall, NOAA's satellite office said. Patricia's winds increased 120 mph within a 24-hour period.

The National Hurricane Center issued a statement late on Oct. 24 that said "a nightmare scenario is unfolding for southern Mexico this evening."

"There are no hurricanes on record even close to this intensity for this part of Mexico," the center said.