Hurricane Kenna, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds, roared into San Blas, Mexico, a small tourist and fishing town 80 miles north of popular tourist spot Puerto Vallarta. The once quaint, coastal village is now a wasteland of splintered wood, twisted metal and crumbled buildings. Back hoes and dump trucks clear the streets of debris as well as mountains of sand washed in from the sea. Despite the widespread damage, there was only one reported death of a woman killed by a falling wall.
Federal authorities said communications with as many as 30 largely Indian fishing villages in Nayarit were lost after Kenna hit and the government declared the region a disaster area, eligible for emergency aid funds.
As Kenna roared towards shore, the Mexican Red Cross remained in constant communication with local officials and began mobilizing supplies to the potentially affected region.
"The Mexican Red Cross has a very strong history in disaster response and is currently mobilizing staff to conduct disaster needs assessments," said Christine Strater, Latin America Regional Associate for the American Red Cross International Disaster Response Unit, who traveled to Mexico to assist with the operations Saturday.
Mexican Red Cross volunteers and staff carried out an inventory of goods and supplies available in the region, together with other branches of the MRC in affected areas. From Mexico City, three trailers with 75 tons of relief supplies including food, water, clothing and medicine were sent to Jalisco branch. The National Society has an agreement with a chain store for the setting up of collection centers for relief supplies. In the Manzanillo branch, 10 tons of food and water have been made available for assistance in Yucatán.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross put its pre-positioned relief supplies, including tents, blankets, hygiene items and water containers, in Honduras and in the United States for deployment to assist the Mexican Red Cross.
The American Red Cross has been working with the Mexican Red Cross on the Hurricane Isidore disaster relief operation. Together, the two Red Cross societies are distributing hygiene parcels to more than 25,000 affected residents of the Yucatan Peninsula.
"If necessary, the American Red Cross will work with the Mexican Red Cross to develop an appropriate response plan that meets the needs of the people as quickly and as efficiently as possible, "said Strater.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) has a representative in Mexico and a regional delegation in Guatemala who are maintaining contact with the Mexican Red Cross. Also, the Federation's Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) is on standby should additional support be requested.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Kenna had dissipated over land as it moved into northeast Mexico, but remnants were merging with a weather system in the northwest Gulf of Mexico.
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