Life since the 2007 floods has been a learning curve for Hugo Gutierrez. Last year he was one of the three part-timers working for Caritas Tabasco when the disaster happened.
Father Saul hired a few more people so Gutierrez became a part of a team of seven, but there was still no denying the enormity of the situation for such as small team.
“Initially, we had no idea what was happening,” says Gutierrez. “It was our responsibility to help the poorest families face the floods.”
Not everyone wanted to help those who were in need. Looting took place when the floods were at their height and people had to abandon their homes.
“Also, the hidden poverty that isn’t usually so evident became visible,” says Gutierrez.
After the floods Gutierrez did emergency response training to ensure that if the floods ever came again, people would be better protected.
“We learned about how to organise and divide tasks, how to improve assistance and how to develop emergency plans,” says Gutierrez.
The training covered many aspects of emergency response including evacuation drills, disaster prevention and the Sphere minimum standards for disaster response.
The Sphere international guidelines help ensure disasters are managed quickly and effectively.
Gutierrez considers the training to have been invaluable as it helped Caritas Tabasco’s staff identify strengths and weaknesses and map the risks for future disasters. The training ultimately means that Caritas Tabasco is better prepared to face whatever nature throws at them.
“Now people can really count on us,” says Gutierrez.