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San Mateo Woman Among First To Be Evacuated From Hurricane-Devastated Los Cabos, Mexico

SAN MATEO (KPIX 5) -- A San Mateo woman on vacation in Cabo San Lucas considers herself among the lucky ones evacuated after Hurricane Odile knocked out services and left thousands of tourists stranded.

Lauren Stapleton is telling the story she will be telling the rest of her life. "It sounded like a bomb going off. Our entire lobby exploded. Then the floor below us, the window burst and you could hear the furniture hitting the ceiling."

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13 of her friends had already had their bachelorette party and were set to go home, but the plane was scheduled to leave an hour after the airport had closed.

"We heard a rumor that the airport wouldn't open for 14 days. So we limited ourselves to 4 chips, and half a bottle of water just to hope that we'd have enough to last," said Stapleton.

The city was trashed. There was no buying food as stores were getting looted. Water was also in short supply.

"The worst was the store that got looted.They had lights hanging down and it was in puddles of water," she said.

She was pleasantly surprised that the Mexican Air Force came to the rescue."We didn't expect the military to come that soon from Mexico and we're really thankful the Mexican military came that soon and helped out."

A military plane took them to Mazatlan and then Alaska Airlines got them back to the U.S.

KPIX 5 Senior Technician Rich Viglienzoni has heard from his two daughters, also trapped in Cabo for daughter Lia's bachelorette party.

"Really, really excited, and I am so grateful," said Viglienzoni, who was able to laugh after the news. "I still have to call the wedding shop and tell them Lia won't be there for the fitting today. I'm going to do that next, ha ha."

Lia's party was rained out in a big way and she, her older sister Adriana, and other friends didn't know how they would get home. Plans now are in the works.

Terry Shanahan has received only one short e-mail from daughter Kathleen who is still stuck in Cabo with her husband. "She's pregnant. Seven months pregnant. She's going to have a baby in December."

"We were on the first plane that left Cabo," said Stapleton. "I can't imagine still being there, or being one of the families that haven't heard from their loved ones yet."

Mexico's tourism minister tweeted that 5,000 travelers had been flown out by the military since Tuesday but that 30,000 travelers were stranded by the storm.

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