CRS to help Mexicans hit by weeks of hurricanes, tropical storms

News and Press Release
Originally published
October 8, 2003, Baltimore, MD - Tropical storms and hurricanes continue to batter Mexico from both coasts, with the latest rains and flooding affecting more than 500,000 people in 12 states across the country. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) earlier committed resources to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Marty and Ignacio and is now working with Caritas Mexico to respond to this latest round of natural disasters.
Tropical Storm Larry hit the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday morning, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the state of Veracruz, near the town of Coatzacoalcos. This latest storm has exacerbated the flooding that has already affected more than half a million people. Numerous tropical weather systems and sustained rains have punished the country over the past six weeks.

On Mexico's Pacific Coast, Tropical Storm Olaf was downgraded but then gathered strength as it headed toward the coast south of Puerto Vallarta. Tropical Storm Nora, which was earlier feared to be on a collision course with Olaf, now appears to be weakening at sea. Concerns about flooding remain, however, as weeks of heavy rains from previous storms have left infrastructure damaged and caused widespread displacement of families.

"The fact that these two storms are weakening is good news," said Jed Hoffman, Latin America Regional Director for CRS. "But the rains are still falling, and beyond immediate assistance, we'll need to assess the long-term needs to help people return their lives to normal."

CRS is working with Caritas Mexico to respond to the most immediate humanitarian needs, but the greater need will be for reconstruction assistance to rebuild homes and assist agricultural communities whose crops have been lost. The agency will be providing funds for bedding and potable water for displaced families in Baja California Sur, and plans are being developed with local responders for a housing reconstruction and agricultural rehabilitation response for the most severely affected communities.

CRS has been supporting human development and humanitarian efforts in Mexico since the 1960s. In recent years, the agency has funded rural development and peace building projects in Chiapas and provided emergency assistance after natural disasters, in addition to helping victims of civil conflict in the south. The agency currently operates a program and representational office in Tucson, Arizona, from which it supports cross-border initiatives and partnerships as well as programs throughout Mexico.

Catholic Relief Services is marking its 60th year as the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. The agency provides assistance to people in more than 90 countries and territories on the basis of need, not race, creed or nationality.

This release is also available in Spanish at:

To contribute to Catholic Relief Services efforts, send donations to:

Mexican Hurricane Response
Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090


Brian Shields
410.951.7455 or

Cecile Sorra