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Sudbury man rides out Category 5 storm while in Mexico

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The last few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for Bruno Lalonde and his family in Sudbury.

Lalonde, who owns NSS Canada, was in Mexico for the big Acapulco Mining Show while Hurricane Otis slammed into the resort community.

The Category 5 storm made landfall on Wednesday, ripping out trees, levelling homes and hotels and leaving nothing but devastation in its wake.

"Everyone we are travelling with is fortunately safe. We've all had contact with our loved ones," Lalonde told CTV News from Mexico City. "It was a traumatic experience. We were expecting a tropical storm and within hours it turned into a Category 5 hurricane."

The mining supply salesman laughed, saying this was his first, and hopefully last, hurricane.

He and his colleague, James, were staying at a villa once the storm hit, holding the door closed in a bid to keep Mother Nature out.

"We were about 30 metres from the water so when we knew it was coming, we left a little earlier to go to the villa and prepare. It was wild because we were talking to the folks who run the villa who told us we could stay there. I had questions as to should I stay closer to the trade show. They felt everything was fine. Even the authorities didn’t (have) the proper information," he said.

Laldonde said when they got back to the room it was about 11. The 100-kilometre-hour winds had started and they knew the eye was going to hit within 90 minutes.

The category five storm made landfall on Wednesday, ripping out trees, levelling homes and hotels and leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. (Supplied)

"We started hearing coconuts hitting our villa and said, 'oh the wind is starting to pick up,' (and) went downstairs. James and I, we were watching the storm come through and then it just got stronger, stronger and stronger. The doors, next thing you know the doors are going, glass is going, everything is flying everywhere and we can't even see right in front of us. We are in the storm. The storm was hitting us from behind at this point. At that point James and I are holding onto one of the doors because once that blows away it was just straight access right into our villa," he recalled.

BARRICADED IN THE KITCHEN

The Sudbury man said he was grateful the villa was made out of concrete. They chose to move the fridge and barricade themselves in the kitchen.

"The entire time we were gone I started thinking about my family, my wife, my kids and I was just trying to get home," Lalonde said pushing past some tears.

The pair were extremely grateful for colleagues with the Komatsu group who took them under their wings and made room for them at the Imperial. He had video of the lamps shaking and part of the roof being ripped away during the height of the storm.

"If it wasn't for them I would still be stuck. They were an incredible group, and incredible company," he said smiling.

The category five storm made landfall on Wednesday, ripping out trees, levelling homes and hotels and leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. (Supplied)

Lalonde said he knew it was tough for everyone back home. Along with his family, he has a wife and two small children in Sudbury.

"The wife definitely probably struggled more than anybody. My mom had zero communication. I was fortunate around 1:30 in the morning to get my last phone call out to my wife and I told her… she gave me a better heads up about the storm that was coming than the locals. I told her she was right and I apologized and that things were going to get a little crazy," he said.

"Will she let me travel again? I think so, but I won't take things lightly anymore. When I hear there's a storm, I'm out!" he laughed.

WIDESPREAD DEVASTATION

Waking up the following morning, the devastation was nothing like he had ever seen. Lalonde and his colleague made their way away from the coast and to Mexico City.

"We evacuated our villa and went with the Komatsu group. We ended up staying another night with no running water and you don't realize what you don't have until it's gone, zero communication, zero water, zero food. The hotel was phenomenal because we were able to get food and water. They provided that for us and then things started getting very scarce. Acapulco is a developing area with lots of poverty and by that evening the looting had started," he said.

The category five storm made landfall on Wednesday, ripping out trees, levelling homes and hotels and leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. (Supplied)

"Not only was I scared for my life one of the nights, the second, too. Security from the hotel says we can't secure the facility, we don't have staff, so every floor had a leader and someone would stay on watch. The looting had started, the shopping centre across from the hotel was completely gutted by the morning, gunshots … so we knew the following day we could not stay."

Lalonde said his heart goes out to the Acapulco community in which support has so far been limited. Resources have had a tough time getting into the city.

"They won't have power for the next two months. The infrastructure, the sewage back-up, the flooding, the devastation, the buildings, the highways … there's nothing. There are hotels that are teetering on edge. 265-kilometre-an-hour winds does stuff I didn't think it could do," he said.

"I'm glad I have a story. I definitely want to get home and hug the kids a little tighter, I'm just excited to get home," he said.

He is scheduled to return home in Sudbury Friday night. 

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