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Hurricane Odile Slams Cabo San Lucas, Leaves 'Demolished Paradise'

Hurricane Odile, the strongest storm ever to hit Mexico's southern Baja California peninsula, injured at least 135 people.
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Hurricane Odile, the most powerful ever to strike the Baja California peninsula of Mexico, rammed into the luxury resorts of Cabo San Lucas on Monday — smashing windows, flooding roads, causing parts of hotels to collapse and injuring at least 135 people.

Tourists and local residents emerged from both shelters and once-gleaming buildings to assess the damage after the storm roared through as a Category 3 packing 125-mph wind. It weakened somewhat to Category 2 on Monday afternoon, but it continued to drop heavy rainfall that threatened to trigger mudslides, floods, especially in roadways and low-lying areas, the National Weather Commission reported.

No deaths had been reported, Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico's national civil defense coordinator, said Monday afternoon, but 135 people were treated for injuries, some from flying glass.

"We stepped into a completely demolished paradise," Alycia Houser, a student at Oregon State University, told NBC News by email from Cabo San Lucas, where she and six relatives had their vacation upended.

They were staying in a presidential suite at the Grand Solmar resort and had to move to another resort nearby as the storm approached. During the worst of it, as the family rushed to take cover in the bathroom, a sliding glass door shattered just after her father crossed in front of it.

"We could hear things crashing into the walls, and the pressure in the room was horrible," she said. "Our ears were hurting, and we were exhausted."

They left the bathroom after 2½ hours and spent Monday morning walking around "in awe of everything that was destroyed," Houser said. The seven of them were sore and exhausted but unhurt, she said.

About 30,000 tourists had taken refuge in temporary shelters, the Interior Ministry said. The Cabo San Lucas airport was closed, as were the La Paz, San Jose del Cabo and Loreto airports.

Cabo "is totally without drinking water and power," the Civil Defense Office reported early Monday afternoon, adding that communications were crippled by downed power poles and trees.

More than 3,000 military personnel, police and emergency workers were dispatched to almost a dozen cities in the region, Egidio Torre Cantú, governor of the state of Tamaulipas, told the Notimex news agency.

At one shelter in Los Cabos, tourists crowded on the concrete stairs of a service area after the designated shelter area was destroyed.

Josh Morgerman, a California storm chaser, said his Cabo hotel lobby exploded in a "heap of rubble." Writing on Twitter, he said he "escaped by crawling, scampering, running."

Chelsea Ballenberger, a nurse from Alabama vacationing in the nearby city of La Paz, said she was forced to take refuge in the shower when her room flooded.

"As soon as we moved to the shower the windows shattered," she wrote on Facebook. "We can hear the wind howling everywhere. ... Definitely the scariest thing I have ever been through." Jason T. Vogt, a Canadian expatriate, simply described the scene as "total devastation" in a Facebook post.

Nick Wiltgen, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said he was monitoring "mind-boggling" reports of 11 inches of rain in just one hour — almost as much as the region's yearly average of 13 inches. While this measurement could be due to storm-damaged equipment, he said reports of 7 inches were believable.

The storm was bearing down on La Paz, a city of 200,000 people, but was expected to continue losng steam as it headed up the peninsula through Tuesday. The U.S. Southwest could see heavy rain and flash flooding Tuesday.

M. Alex Johnson, Emmanuelle Saliba and Alexander Smith of NBC News contributed to this report.