Honeymooners shelter in hotel lobby as Delta slams Mexico

Minyvonne Burke and Mohammed Syed
·4 min read

A couple from Michigan on their honeymoon had to shelter in the lobby of their hotel in Cozumel as Hurricane Delta, a powerful Category 2, slammed Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula early Wednesday with heavy rain and winds.

Nicole and Jake Sinclair, both 26, from Grand Rapids, arrived on the island Monday afternoon for what they thought was going to be a relaxing getaway after getting married over the weekend. But that quickly changed as Delta strengthened.

On Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours into their trip, the newlyweds were called down to the lobby of the Fiesta Americana Cozumel hotel for a meeting with staff and other guests.

“We got down there and they told us to put all of our nonessential stuff in our carry-ons and put them in the bathrooms of our rooms and just bring our essential stuff in a backpack downstairs," Nicole told NBC News in an interview Wednesday.

Tourists' personal items at the Fiesta Americana Cozumel All Inclusive during Hurricane Delta in Cozumel, Mexico, on Oct. 6, 2020. (Courtesy Nicole Sinclair)
Tourists' personal items at the Fiesta Americana Cozumel All Inclusive during Hurricane Delta in Cozumel, Mexico, on Oct. 6, 2020. (Courtesy Nicole Sinclair)

Guests at the hotel were told that they would be sleeping in the lobby as the island prepared for the hurricane's arrival. The resort turned lawn chairs into makeshift beds for the guests and handed out towels, pillows and boxes with masks and hand sanitizer.

Nicole and Jake were among roughly 50 people in a downstairs lobby. Other guests were taken to an upstairs area while some sheltered in a hallway. Social distancing was not possible, Nicole said, adding that the hotel did take everyone's temperature before letting them into the lobby.

"Our chairs were very close together ... but they tried their best," she said. "They came around with hand sanitizer a lot and kept reminding people that were taking off their masks, they had to keep them on.”

Another tourist, Nelson Perez, 34, described the moment he and his family were told they had to leave their room at Grand Resorts in Cancún.

"The evacuation yesterday was a little crazy but the hotel really took care of us," he told NBC News in an interview Wednesday.

Perez, who is from Colorado, said some people had to wait in line for nearly six hours to get a cot to sleep on. The hotel tried to keep guests entertained by setting up movies and arranging small group activities like dance classes.

The hurricane made landfall about 23 miles south of Cancún around Puerto Morales, toppling trees and cutting electricity to parts of Cancún and Cozumel. Just prior to the storm reaching Mexico, it had increased in strength by 80 mph in just 24 hours, more than doubling from a 60 mph storm.

Perez said that since Delta has passed, things have calmed down.

The Sinclairs said they did not lose power during the hurricane, but flooding became an issue when rain started to pour inside an area of the lobby. “Luckily, it didn’t go through to where we were sitting or laying," Jake said.

The couple said they can't leave their hotel for at least the next two days because the island remains shut down, but they plan to make the most of their honeymoon before heading home on Monday.

“There’s no flights, there’s no ferries. … So we are stuck here," Nicole said.

"We’ll just take it one day at a time and depending on what happens and what they tell us is how we’ll approach it," Jake added.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no reports of deaths or injuries in Mexico from the hurricane. By late morning, Delta had slightly weakened to maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, but it is expected to strengthen again to a Category 4 by Thursday evening.

The National Hurricane Center has already issued a hurricane watch for the Gulf Coast between High Island, Texas, and Grand Isle, Louisiana, and a tropical storm watch for areas farther west and east, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.

States of emergency have been declared in Alabama and Louisiana ahead of the storm's arrival.

Delta is expected to make landfall along the central Gulf Coast late Friday or very early Saturday morning. It will be the 10th hurricane landfall on the mainland U.S. this season, setting a new record for the number of landfalls in a single season.