Most houses have shutters that they put up in advance of a hurricane. All our houses are designed to be ready for hurricanes. For example, the palapa right in front of me now was designed to be open but is hinged so that, when we get a hurricane coming we just drop it down.
Most of our houses have metal shutters that they put on usually when the people are not living in the house. The shutters help with security, but also in the event of a hurricane. I’ve been through Category 3 hurricanes here without a single window broken.
You should plan for hurricanes. You want to probably have shutters for your house and if you’re planning to be here during hurricane season, you need to understand what’s involved. You may be without power for a week or two, you may be without roads for a week or two, and so on. You need to have food and water, maybe you have a generator or solar, and then you have a specific room you’re going to go to in during a hurricane that’s well protected from the wind. When it’s really blowing, things are blowing around. You can have a piece of wood or a tree just blow through the window and break it open and then you have glass lying around. So you want a place that you can go and just hunker down and ride it out.
Relative to our situation here, the staff have their own families they have to protect, so you can’t depend on them to come, or even for the police to come, for the same reason. When the big hurricane hit Cabo a couple of years ago, everybody melted away. The governor didn’t handle it right. He should have brought in the National Guard or whatever because the police melted away. They were worried about their own families, and protected themselves.
It was a bit of chaos, which you’re going to get anywhere. I don’t care if it’s LA or somewhere else. When the police are gone people just think, “Okay, I can go kick the door in a CostCo and get a generator or whatever I need." There was no violence or anything but a lot of petty theft in Cabo.
Here in La Ventana, we didn’t get hit like that, so there weren’t any of these types of issues. However, when one’s coming you don’t know. It might hit or it might not hit. It might hit over there a hundred miles away and not here. So you just have to be ready. You know it’s coming. At least now we have communications and warnings so you know that it’s coming. So you stock up on food, water, and have your little hideout and you go in there.
Relative to earthquakes, we felt tremors here but it didn’t do any damage. I often wondered about that because the San Andreas Fault line is right out here, but historically, I don’t know of any earthquakes that have done any damage in this area.
The boveda (domed) roofs here are the strongest way you can build. You would think that they’re not reinforced but they are. One way to demonstrate this is with an egg. Push down on just the top and bottom in order to try to break it. You can’t. Why? Because it’s self-loading. It loads into itself and that’s what domes do. It’s reinforced by its own structure like an egg.
You could go to many places that have a lot of earthquakes, such as Mexico City, Turkey or Iran. They have these domes that are hundreds or even thousands of years old, so you have a pretty good idea that they will hold up.
When you build here you’re supposed to do a soil sample to figure out how much foundation to use, but they just build for worst case.
I’ve been in Baja for 35 years and never had any issues with earthquakes or tsunamis. I’ve never even seen a fire here. Flooding can be a problem. Two problems come from hurricanes—wind damage and water damage. When you see the the width and depth of the ravines here you can imagine the volume of water that comes down to cut into them to create them. You have to see them when they’re actually running to appreciate it.
There’s one ravine that runs right through town, but I’ve never seen it going crazy. I’ve been here for decades and I’ve seen some rain. Every year when we get the rain, our road gets washed out. I’ve been working on some catch basins on our property to slow the water down, which works really well. Eventually I’ll put underground tubes down the whole road, but right now, I just accept it. When the rains bring enough water, the road washes out and I have to bring the loader and then fill it in. It’s not a big deal.
(Domed roofs of Ventana Bay Resort, La Ventana Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico, pictured.)