Facing the Tabasco floods
Last Christmas was a very poor one for Mr Hernández and his family.
Rozaio Hernandez came home from the local market on 30th October 2007 and his family had gone. They fled after the river by their house burst its banks, flooding their house. They were just some of the one million people in Tabasco Mexico who were affected by the worst floods in the state’s history.
The massive floods in Tabasco in October and November had ruined hectares of his crops and many of his poultry had died of infections, so he had very little to sell at the market.
Mr Hernández had one metre of water in his house so he slept in a bed on stilts. His family went and stayed in drier accommodation nearby, but Mr Hernández stayed with the house to deter looters.
As Tabasco lies almost at sea level, there weren’t many hills on which to take refuge when much of the land was under water . Some people stayed with their houses, others went to schools or were taken in by neighbours who were less affected. Over 1000 people went to sleep in the local cathedral during and after the floods.
Soon after the floods struck, Caritas was in action helping those who had lost homes and possessions.
“Initially it was very difficult because we didn’t have any food and we had to rely on the generosity of a neighbour. But after a few days Caritas started to bring hot meals,” says Mr Hernández.
The fact that the meals were already prepared was important because people’s kitchens had been flooded and they had lost cooking utensils. This meant they had no way of preparing food.
Once the floods started to subside and people were either lodged in temporary shelters or had returned to their homes, Caritas started to distribute basic food rations.
“We received rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar and water,” says Mr Hernández . “This really helped us as I had lost a lot of my corn and plantain crops.”
But many people needed more than food as the floods had affected one million people to varying degrees. Homes and possessions were damaged and despite protection by the army, people’s houses were looted.
Apart from losing crops and poultry, Mr Hernández also lost the farming tools necessary for his work. Caritas provided him with new tools so he could start to grow food again.
Almost a year after the floods struck, Mr Hernández has managed to grow food for his family and to make a living by selling anything extra at the market.
Mr Hernández ’s house next to the river will again be vulnerable if the rains are heavy this year. He’s planning on getting some sandbags and he wants to reinforce his house with cinder blocks so it will be better protected.
“We hope we don’t have to go through the floods again, but if we do, we hope we can get through them,” says Mr Hernández .
Related Articles Imagine compassion in a crisis: Preparing for next time Lessons learned in Tabasco floods One year after the Tabasco Flood Father Saúl de Jesús Solís Vera, Caritas Tabasco Director during the Tabasco Flood Erica Dahl-Bredine, Mexico Country Representative for Catholic Relief Services during the Tabasco Flood Hugo Diaz Gutierrez, Caritas Tabasco Logistics Officer during the Tabasco Flood
RESOURCESAnnual Report 2011Emergency GuidelinesEmergency Response Tool KitEmergency Appeals 2012Emergency Appeals 2011Emergency Appeals 2010Emergencies on Caritas BlogBridging the Gap between Policy and Practice