September 29, 2001

Juliette lingers over Baja, loses strength

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) --Hurricane Juliette weakened into a tropical
storm for the second time Saturday as it lingered over the Baja peninsula, frustrating
tourists and residents holed up with limited power and phone service and no access
to the outside world.

As the storm lost its ferocity Saturday, rain stopped falling over Cabo San Lucas and
winds that had roared in with speeds of 85 mph (140 km/h) decreased to near 65
mph (105 km/h).

Floodwaters dropped rapidly, allowing some businesses to reopen in this city of
25,000, where workers filled wheelbarrows with debris and removed protective tape
and boards off building facades.

Electricity had been restored to parts of the city by Saturday and most resort owners
said they expected things to be back to normal within a week.

But the storm's diminishing strength was little consolation to tourists who hunkered
down in luxury resort hotels with little immediate hopes of getting home.

The airport in nearby San Jose del Cabo remained closed, and Juliette had washed
out a portion of the El Tule bridge, cutting off access to the rest of the peninsula.
Some four-wheel drive vehicles and pickup trucks made their way gingerly across
the bridge, but it remained unsafe for most traffic. Floodwaters also blocked the
smaller roads leading out of the city.

Civil protection officials said late Friday they would try to construct a makeshift
bridge as soon as possible.

Pam Doph, 44, of Las Vegas, stood eyeing the damaged bridge and sighed.

"I want to go home. Oh, my stars. At this point I'll carry my suitcase and just walk
out of here. Las Vegas is looking good right now. I'm never leaving 'mi casa' again."

Chris Strom, 32, an electrician from Novato, California, said he had bought $1,800
worth of plane tickets for each of the next three days to ensure that he would get a
flight out when the airport reopened -- if he found a way across the unpassable

Pamela Weinstein, 50, of Phoenix, walked along a once-pristine beach snapping
photos of broken tree trunks, twisted metal and chunks of concrete. Broken beach
umbrellas and chairs poked through mounds of sand.

"This is unbelievable," said Weinstein, who wore a black trash bag as a raincoat to
accompany her yellow-and-green tie-dyed bathing suit coverup.

"The day before this hit, the waves were the most beautiful turquoise blue. Now
they're rolling in black."

Many residents work in the city's luxury hotels but themselves live in flimsy wooden
shacks that were destroyed by the storm. They, too, wondered when their lives
would return to normal.

"My home was completely destroyed," said Jorge Gonzalez, a 43-year-old hotel
worker who was one of more than 3,000 people from three neighborhoods cut off
from the rest of the city when dry riverbeds turned into raging torrents of water.
"I'm coming over here with the hope that my work will be able to help us out."

The storm was expected to move little Saturday, prolonging rains and high winds
over the peninsula. The National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that Juliette
could dump as much as 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cms) of rain over central and
southern Baja California, bringing the threat of flooding and mudslides.

Red Cross workers said they had bee