Local firefighters stranded by hurricane in Mexico finally back home

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Sixteen Hoffman Estates firefighters and their families, 50 people total, are finally home after a trip to Mexico went terribly wrong.

Since Sunday, they had been stranded in Cabo San Lucas after Hurricane Odile hit. Food and water was running out, there was no electricity and looters gaining on their oceanfront resort. They said the Mexican government had come and gone, and they didn't know who they could trust.

They snuck out at 5 a.m. Thursday, careful not to wake other guests because they thought there would be rioting. They arranged to meet taxis to take them to the airport, not even knowing if there would be a plane available to get them home.

"We just knew that 50 of us were sneaking out at 5 a.m. complete silence, just grab your stuff and go," said Hoffman Estates firefighter Lt. Jim Long.

"There is no one we'd rather be with than firemen," said Nancy Fortunato, who was also stranded. "They did a great job."

The U.S. government worked with American Airlines to get Americans out of Cabo San Lucas. All they needed to do was show their passport.

The group was taken to Los Angeles Thursday, and flown to Chicago on Friday.

Lt. Jim Long said being stranded in Cabo San Lucas was worse than being a soldier in Iraq.

"At least there's support in a combat zone," he said.  "In Cabo, we were just on our own."

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1 Comment

  • Edward Douglas

    I found it funny how the firefighters stated they would stay close to home. Even though the Mexican government is corrupt and incompetent, so is the United States. Anyone remember Katrina? That went so smooth with our country in charge.