About 1,000 mourners, many wiping away tears, sang hymns Sunday beside a river that had raged over its banks, destroying their church during Hurricane Pauline’s rampage over the Mexican coast.
Meanwhile, on the far side of what had been a road - but now is a gully 100 feet wide and 20 feet deep - bulldozers pushed aside boulders and scraped away mud, noisily competing with the prayers rising from the outdoor Mass.
Families hugged one another and heard encouragement from the Roman Catholic priest, who stood amid a muddy pile of boulders and bricks. A bright sea of umbrellas shielded worshipers from the tropical sun.
“We feel the pain of so many brothers, not only those of Acapulco but everyone affected by the passage of Hurricane Pauline,” the Rev. Angel Busto said.
As church bells tolled on the first Sunday since Pauline had ravaged Acapulco and the surrounding coast late last week, Busto said the community will rebuild the Sacred Family Church - as well as the rest of the city.
“Together, we will do it,” he vowed.
Pauline raked hundreds of miles of Pacific coast over two days, dumping torrential rains on Acapulco that set off flash floods before dawn Thursday, killing at least 207 people.
The fury of the flooding caught Mexico’s famous resort by surprise. Raging waters sprang from gulches to sweep sleeping people, cars and giant boulders through hillside communities on a course to the sea.
In the Palmas del Sol neighborhood, Red Cross workers wearing face masks searched Sunday for a body beneath a pile of boulders. The stench of decay rose in the air.
Thousands of people have been left homeless. Lines of people carrying bottled water and other supplies from a market snaked around the worshipers.
Downtown, store owners and homeowners sweated as they shoveled dirt and rocks out of buildings whose ground floors were packed with the debris sent hurtling down Acapulco’s hillsides.