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Help Mitzi Rebuild Her Home After Hurricane Otis

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On October 24th, 2023, Mitzi's life changed when Hurricane Otis unleashed its devastating fury upon Acapulco, Guerrero, leaving her family's home in ruins and their livelihood in jeopardy. This tropical storm off Mexico's western coast worsened to a category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours and slammed Acapulco with force equivalent to a giant EF3 tornado.

Nothing was spared: the electrical grid was destroyed, cell and radio antennas were toppled, buildings were reduced to shells of their former selves. Rivers overflowed, resulting in massive flooding. Every hospital is gone. Residents were left in the dark, unable to communicate, and without food or clean water. The roads were so badly destroyed that aid was unable to get in for days. Despite the apocalyptic levels of destruction, Otis is getting little news coverage in the US, and the international response to the disaster has been limited.

Just 2 days after the storm, one of my favorite people, Alejandro, went to Acapulco to search for his family. With cell service cut off, he had not heard from his parents since before the storm hit. He found them along with the rest of his relatives, but his family lost everything. His sister, Mitzi, lost her house: the roof was torn off, and everything at ground level was destroyed by flooding. I'm urgently asking for your help to allow Mitzi to replace the roof, rebuild the second floor, repair the walls, replace furniture, and replace her appliances, as well as repair and restock the small corner store she and her parents ran from the first floor.

The Day of the Storm
On the day of the storm, Mitzi and her dad took her mom to the hospital because she was not feeling well. Her dad stayed with her mom, and Mitzi went back to the house with her aunt to ride out the storm. There was no way for them to properly prepare for what happened: the storm was barely category 1 in the afternoon, and category 5 when it hit them at 1 am. In what Mitzi describes as the most terrifying night of their lives, they took refuge in the downstairs bathroom of the house, desperately hoping the door wouldn't give out and the water would stop rising as 165 mph winds tore the house apart. Thankfully, they survived without major injuries, but Mitzi's family's house was completely destroyed along with their family business.

Mitzi's Personal Plea for Help
Translation: "On the night of October 24, we lived the most terrifying night of our lives. Hurricane Otis made landfall in Acapulco and we lost our homes, the wind destroyed roofs, roofs, light poles, cars, and the rainwater overflowed the river and it flooded our homes. That is why I am making this statement to ask for help to raise our roofs, since we have neither beds to sleep in nor a roof to shelter from the next rains. I hope you can help us with whatever you would like to donate. We Acapulqueños need your help."

Original: "La noche del 24 de octubre vivimos la noche más aterradora de nuestras vidas, el huracán Otis tocó tierra en Acapulco y perdimos nuestras viviendas, el aire arrasó con techos, roholes, postes de luz, carros y el agua de la lluvia desbordó el río e inundó nuestros hogares, es por eso que hago este comunicado para pedir ayuda para poder levantar nuestros techos, ya que nos tenemos ni camas donde dormir ni techo donde refugiarnos de las siguientes lluvias, espero puedan ayudarnos con lo que gusten donar. Los acapulqueños necesitamos de su ayuda."

The Family Business, "Miscelánea Josué"
Google street view of Miscelánea Josué before the storm hit.
Miscelánea Josué after the storm.

All of the store's inventory was destroyed. Since the electricity isn't on yet, we don't know which appliances still work, but everything -- refrigerators, freezer, stove, blender, etc. -- sat in muddy water. I will post an update when we learn what, if anything, can be salvaged.

Mitzi's House
In this video, you can see how the roof was ripped off and the second floor was severely damaged.
Appliances and furniture sat in muddy water, and it's not yet clear how much can be saved.

Destroyed boxes of store inventory, debris, and tree branches litter the yard.
The metal roof was ripped off, and some of the structure underneath went with it, so that will be first priority to fix. The other priority is fixing a pipe that was broken so that the house can have running water again. The windows on the second story are destroyed and some of the walls are badly damaged.

More About Mitzi
Top: Leslie (Mitzi's sister), Mitzi, Alejandro
Bottom: Mitzi's mom and dad
Mitzi is the youngest of 3 children, and, for the past several months, she has been home taking care of her mom who is recovering from an amputation as well as taking care of the house and helping with the corner store. Previously, she pursued a career in cosmetology and owned a small business giving massages. She loves food and her dog, Sofia.

The Current Situation
Right now, Alejandro is with his dad in a nearby city where their mother is hospitalized, while Mitzi is trying to clean up the house up the best she can. Their other family members in Acapulco are dealing with their own homes and livelihoods being damaged or destroyed. Without electricity, running water, or a roof, life is difficult.

How You Can Help
Losing everything overnight is devastating, but you have the power to help one family rebuild. Your gift of $100, $20, $10, or even $1 will help Mitzi restore her family's home and allow them to reopen the family business. I cannot overstate how much this money means to them: between Mitzi's mother being sick and the realities of trying to live in a city paralyzed by destroyed infrastructure, money is tight right now, and your gift will make a huge difference. Your donations will help Mitzi focus on rebuilding her life and take good care of her mom when she is able to come home.

Where Your Money Will Go
I will send every dollar from this GoFundMe to my friend Mitzi to help rebuild her family's house and small business. I will use Xoom to transfer the money from my bank account to her debit card. I have it set up and have verified that I can send money with no issues.

Some priorities are:
  • Replace the roof
  • Repair damaged water pipe so the house can have running water again
  • Replace broken windows
  • Replace (or repair if possible) appliances - there is still no electricity so it is unclear what can be saved
  • Restock the store
  • Restock the store

We aim to post updates weekly, as communications and travel allow.

About Me
My name is Morgan Baerwaldt, and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I met Alejandro a little over 4 years ago on an app for learning languages, hoping I could practice my Spanish with him. After months of talking every day, I decided to go to meet him in Mexico City. I also had the pleasure of meeting his sisters, Leslie and Mitzi! Alejandro is one of the the lights of my life, someone who is always there for me through every up and down. His family is my family and I want to do anything to help them get through this.

Photo: (left to right) Leslie, Mitzi, me, and Alejandro in 2019



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Morgan Baerwaldt
Phoenix, AZ

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