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Mexico: Floods Recede; Situation Remains Dire

World Vision teams on the ground are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of local families; the needs of children living in shelters are a primary relief focus.

Updated November 12, 2007

Please note: If a sponsored child is directly affected by a crisis or disaster, it is World Vision's policy to notify that child's sponsor as soon as possible.

A woman crosses a flooded street in Villahermosa on Nov. 1. Thousands of homes were flooded after several rivers burst their banks in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco and heavy rains left 70 percent of the swampy region underwater. REUTERS/Manuel Lopez (MEXICO)
Hundreds of thousands of Mexico's southeastern Tabasco and Chiapas state residents were affected by massive flooding caused by days of ongoing torrential rains.

Two World Vision-supported communities in Chiapas, with more than 4,000 children sponsored by World Vision donors in Canada, are reportedly stable. Our staff is responding to the needs in these areas, primarily through the provision of food, water, and non-food items.

Tabasco state, meanwhile, was particularly hard-hit; here, floodwaters reached the rooftops of many houses, destroyed personal belongings, and forced more than 500,000 people to leave their homes, our Mexico staff reports.

Authorities continue to assess damages, but preliminary reports from the state now indicate:

  • 670 communities were flooded
  • 530,000 people were affected
  • 63 percent of classrooms were flooded
  • More than 120,500 people continue to live in shelters
  • 646 temporary shelters remain open
Water levels are decreasing in areas at higher elevations, though in low-lying areas, some homes remain submerged under more than six feet of water. The situation remains critical.

Threat of Disease Outbreaks Looms

"Even after the floodwaters recede, survivors face risks of dengue, cholera, and mosquito-borne diseases," says Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. "We're praying for the immediate safety and long-term recovery of people affected by this disaster."

As the waters recede, garbage and dead animals have surfaced. Beyond the stomach-churning smell of decay, the potential risk for disease outbreaks has spurred health authorities to begin providing vaccination against hepatitis, flu, and tetanus to flood survivors.

Flooding also has pushed alligators and poisonous snakes from their natural habitats; many of these dangerous creatures have been sighted in and around waterlogged streets near homes and neighborhoods.

Our Mexico staff members also report that most people living in the shelters go home during the day to try to retrieve their belongings and protect their property from theft. At night, the army protects flooded communities from looting in Tabasco's capital city, Villahermosa.

World Vision Responds

Meanwhile, World Vision teams on the ground are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of local families.

Some 40 metric tons of soap, shampoo, sanitary towels, sanitary paper rolls, powdered detergent, and liquid cleaner have been donated to World Vision and are being shipped to Villahermosa, although flooded and mud-covered roadways may cause delays. Additionally, staff is providing lanterns, batteries, and children's toys.

Children's Needs a Priority

"Another important aspect to support is children's conditions in shelters," says Aldo Pontecorvo, World Vision's emergency response director in Mexico.

Approximately 25,000 children now live in these temporary shelters without educational materials, toys, or anywhere to play.

To help children manage stress and begin establishing some normalcy through continuing their education, our Mexico staff has provided school supplies and games to children and teachers housed in the shelters. A number of schoolteachers also have received basic training in stress management and how to use the developmental educational package World Vision has provided.

World Vision also is planning to construct several Child-Friendly Spaces in Villahermosa to assist children with managing the stress, fears, and losses many are facing.

Our staff in Mexico is continuing to monitor the disaster and will provide updates on the situation as they become available.

Learn More

>> Read a Reuters article detailing Mexico's flooding.

Two Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for the families and children affected by the flooding and mudslides, particularly families and children in isolated communities who urgently need help, as well as aid workers laboring tirelessly to provide such assistance.
>> Donate now to assist children and families in southern Mexico who are in urgent need of food and supplies due to massive flooding.

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