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A weakened Jova set to hit Mexico's southwestern coast

From Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
updated 6:32 AM EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Category 2 hurricane will make landfall early Wednesday
  • Jova is west of Manzanillo, Mexico
  • Local authorities cite a lack of resources
  • Emergency officials and residents rush to prepare ahead of the storm

Manzanillo, Mexico (CNN) -- Emergency officials and residents rushed to prepare as a weakened Hurricane Jova slowly spun toward Mexico's southwestern coast.

The eye of the Category 2 hurricane is expected to move over western Mexico early Wednesday. Further weakening is forecast once the center of the storm crosses the coast.

The storm's center was about 60 miles west of the resort town of Manzanillo at 11 p.m. ET, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving north-northeast at 8 mph, with 100 mph winds.

The outer bands of Jova moved onshore Tuesday morning, the center said.

Rain fell in Manzanillo as hotel workers boarded up windows and people filled bags with sand from the beach in preparation of the storm.

The city's mayor said 36 shelters were open and that authorities built barricades to prevent flooding in areas that typically have problems.

"As for tourists, we told them that unless they have pressing matters in town, they should leave," said Mayor Nabor Ochoa.

About 30 elderly residents were moved from their home to an area shelter ahead of the storm.

"It's not the humans I trust," said 69-year-old Cecilia Sanchez about the preparations being made. "But a God who hears my prayers."

At the shelter where she is staying, the local director of civil protection said officials can't afford to board up windows.

"We know that in the United States they protect (windows) with plywood. We haven't been able to do it here because we donĀ¹t have the resources to do so," said David Sanchez.

A hurricane warning is in effect from Punta San Telmo north to Cabo Corrientes, near Puerto Vallarta.

"Our main concern is the welfare of the population," Trinidad Lopez, civil protection director in Jalisco state said on Monday. "We're doing everything in our power to protect people."

At least 100 shelters were open, Lopez said. Workers distributed food, cots and blankets, and crews positioned heavy machinery in strategic locations throughout the state, he added.

Mexico's federal government was providing assistance as well. More than 300 soldiers had been deployed and members of the Mexican navy in Puerto Vallarta were on alert, Lopez said.

While officials prepared for the storm's arrival, tourists heading to the popular resort area said they are determined not to let the storm ruin their trip.

"We already have plans. Everything is paid for. We're going. It's not going to bother us," said Doris Milburn, who was on her way to Puerto Vallarta for a week-long trip with her daughter, her grandson and the grandson's girlfriend.

The Arkansas resident said her family was prepared to have fun, even if rainy weather threatens.

"We'll just walk around, have a margarita or two, (a) bloody Mary and read our books," she said as she waited for a flight at the Dallas airport.

Are you there? Share photos, video, but stay safe

Mexico's National Meteorological Service warned boaters off the country's Pacific coast to prepare for increasing rain, waves and wind.

High surf warnings were in effect as swells generated by Jova pounded parts of Mexico's southwestern coast.

"These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions," the hurricane center said. "Jova is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches over the states of Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco and Nayarit, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches."

CNN's Esprit Smith and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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