Initial Disaster Appeal Mexico Hurricane Pauline

from Church World Service
Published on 24 Oct 1997
34 Denominations & Communions Working Together to Meet Human Needs
Disaster Bulletin No. 7635H for $300,000

Signed by the Rev. Dr. Rodney Page, CWS Executive Director

SITUATION: Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Pauline ravaged Mexico's western Pacific coast states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, this much is known:

The official death toll now stands at 217, and the Mexican Red Cross estimates that more than 2,000 people are missing. Some 300,000 people remain homeless. A total of 600,000 persons were in some way affected by the storm, one of the worst to hit Mexico's western Pacific coast.

In Acapulco, government officials at all levels have been reproached for relief efforts and cleanup that many residents have said are inadequate. Tourist areas were the first to be cleaned up. Cleanup efforts in poorer areas continue, and drinking water remains in short supply. Many residents are still bathing in sewage-laden water. At least 20 cases of cholera have been reported.

The most serious needs remain in rural areas, where food shortages are critical due to the isolation of many areas and difficulties getting into remote rural mountain communities cut off by washed-out roads and bridges. Many communities have been without food for more than a week.

Except for the urban tourist areas of Acapulco, Bahias de Huatulco and Puerto Escondido, most of the population affected is of indigenous origin. The indigenous population is mainly from the Amuzgo, Mixteco, Tlapaneco, Nahua, Huave, Zapoteco and Chatino ethnic groups.

RESPONSE: Most government support and assistance from other humanitarian organizations has been directed to the tourist areas of Acapulco in Guerrero and Huatulco in Oaxaca. Due to the extent of the devastation in rural areas, Church World Service is planning to work with rural, and primarily indigenous, communities in the region, especially those that are in isolated areas and which Mexican authorities have neglected. While assistance will be focused on the indigenous communities, it will be administered by CWS Regional Representative Samuel Lobato, based in Mexico City.

By region, here is a breakdown of the situation and planned response:

Guerrero: While the number of casualties is still not known, the extent of damage in Guerrero was considerable, with widespread destruction to homes, crops and public buildings such as schools, reports the Guerrense Council, an indigenous self-help organization.

The most seriously affected regions were the areas of Costa Chica, Montana Baja and Montana Alta, all of which have a high number of indigenous communities, including the Amuzgo, Mixteco and Tlapaneco people. (In all, the state of Guerrero has 470,000 indigenous inhabitants.)

In Montana Alta there are 141 homes and 9 public buildings to repair. In Montana Baja and Costa Chica there are 387 homes to repair. The local people will be doing their own repairs and reconstruction and will be responsible for transportation and gasoline.

The cost of materials to repair and reconstruct damaged structures is $17,900, as estimated by the Guerrense Council.

Needs in Guerrero: Reconstruction materials to build temporary homes. CWS has already sent $15,000 to the Guerrense Council from the CWS Director's Advance Fund for housing reconstruction. Needs assessments in Guerrero continue and CWS expects further requests to be made.

Oaxaca: Nearly all -- 97 percent -- of the state's 122,825-hectare corn crop was destroyed, according to government estimates. Also destroyed in this heavily agricultural area were 29,600 hectares of coffee crop, as well as scattered crops of beans, papaya, lemon and bananas.

Also damaged were:

179 water systems, more than a quarter of the water systems in Oaxaca, affecting some 160,000 people;
At least 11 health facilities and 250 health centers were seriously damaged; 68 health facilities and 28 health centers were partially damaged;
About 48,600 houses were partially destroyed and 5,400 were completely destroyed.
62 percent of secondary roads were destroyed; 87 percent of rural paths were damaged and 27 bridges were damaged;
16 schools were completely destroyed, 69 schools suffered major damage and more than 1.5 million books were destroyed.

Needs in Oaxaca: Needs are particularly dire for isolated communities that have been difficult to reach. Needs include basic food, such as corn, beans, rice, sugar, powdered milk and salt to support 5,800 families for one month; soap for 5,800 families for one month; 18,000 blankets; tools including shovels, pickaxes, hammers, saws, machetes and nails; rental of 3 helicopters for six days to transport emergency food and materials to isolated areas. CWS plans to assist families in cooperation with the Catholic Archdiocese, indigenous organizations and the local NGO network.


Food Quantity US$
Corn 672 tons 176,800
Beans 168 tons 154,700
Rice 48 tons 37,900
Sugar 24 tons 18,950
Powdered milk 10 tons 65,800
Salt 6 tons 4,700
Soap 1,000 cartons 25,000
Total $483,850
Blankets 18,000 (3 per family) $106,580
Shovels 4200 (10 per community) 20,400
Pickaxes 4200 (10 per community) 27,600
Metal Bars 1260 (3 per community) 8,300
Hammers 4200 (10 per community) 11,000
Saws 4200 (10 per community) 11,000
Machetes 8400 (20 per community) 44,200
Nails 10 kilos per community 8,300
Total $130,800
Gasoline $5,000
Helicopters 3 rented for 6 days (4 hours per day) $108,000
Total $113,000
Materials for home repair in Guerrero $17,900
Implementation Expenses $30,000
Total $882,130

This initial CWS appeal is for $300,000. Of that amount, $106,580 will be sourced from blanket funds for the purchase of blankets. The additional $193,420 will be used across the above categories. This appeal and assessment information is being forwarded to the coordinating office of Action by Churches Togther (ACT) International in Geneva for additional assistance to meet the $800,000 funding goal.


Please send contributions through your communion/denomination designated for this CWS emergency appeal #7635H or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart IN 46515. CWS uses 100 percent of all denominational contributions for assistance to disaster survivors.

For further information about the situation in Mexico contact CWS Emergency Response at (212) 870-3151 or through e-mail to

Call the CWS HOTLINE for updates: (800) 456-1310.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, contact CWS Emergency Response.

Telephone: (212) 870-3151


After-hours emergency pager: (800) 780-0853

Internet Web Site: