Mexico: President Zedillo ordered emergency aid to be sent to areas affected by heavy flooding

Report
from Government of Mexico
Published on 06 Oct 1999
Press Release 1794

Ottawa, Canada, October 6, 1999.

President Ernesto Zedillo gave instructions for immediate aid to be sent to areas affected by the rains

President Ernesto Zedillo gave instructions for immediate aid to be sent to all the regions of Mexico affected by flooding; he added that he ordered the application of Plan DN-III in the flooded zones as soon as he was informed of the seriousness of the situation.

The President, who will conclude his work tour to Canada today, ordered the Department of National Defense to use all its means and civil protection experience to help the population, build shelters and provide all indispensable aid.

The problem, he explained, lies in the fact that several weeks' continuous rain in various regions and highland zones have caused the rivers to swell and burst their banks, thereby flooding inhabited lowland areas.

President Zedillo, who will return to Mexico City today, commented that he will make sure that all necessary aid is provided. He added that, unfortunately, this is one of the natural disasters that simply cannot be avoided.

Dr. Zedillo explained that Mexico's preventive policy has been strengthened in recent years and, as a result, the effects of natural disasters such as last week's earthquake, which would once have caused considerable damage and high mortality rates, were fortunately kept to minimal levels.

He mentioned that, although considerable progress has been made in the area of civil protection, "we cannot expect to control river water levels produced by rains that have surpassed all historical precedents".

The Department of the Interior announced that, in compliance with the President's instructions and with the aim of alleviating the emergency caused by intense rain in the states of Veracruz, Tabasco, Puebla, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Chiapas, personnel from Federal Government agencies have been mobilized to provide aid in conjunction with state governments.

The Heads of National Defense, Social Development, Health, Communications and Transportation, and of the National Water Commission, immediately traveled to the affected areas to coordinate Federal aid with state governments and implement the measures required to help victims.

A report issued by the Civil Protection Coordination Unit of the Department of the Interior on the damage caused by this tropical depression, stated that by 6 pm today, flooding had been reported in 149 municipalities in the states of Tabasco, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Puebla. While this disaster has led to 61 deaths, a further 110,831 people have also been affected.

The Department of Health declared a sanitary alert in the states of Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Puebla, Tabasco, Hidalgo and southern Veracruz, in order to alleviate the problems caused by the intense rains. Likewise, 197 medical brigades have been sent to these states, where they are working with local health care services, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute of Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) to aid the affected population.

The Secretary of Health, Juan Ramón de la Fuente is supervising the provision of drinking water and medicines in Oaxaca; he is also coordinating sanitary support for the affected areas through the formation of medical brigades.

The General Director of the National Water Commission, Guillermo Guerrero Villalobos, has visited various zones of Tabasco, Hidalgo, Veracruz and Puebla, so as to evaluate the extent of damage, the release of water from dams and reservoirs, and to coordinate the application of preventive measures.

The Secretary of Social Development, Carlos Jarque Uribe, traveled to Puebla to supervise aid, the construction of shelters and the provision of required materials. This work is being carried out in conjunction with the Department of National Defense and through the DICONSA distribution network. Thus, in collaboration with state and municipal authorities, these needs will receive immediate attention and the appropriate logistic measures will be established to ensure supplies to affected states.

Since torrential rains have affected large regions of the country, in line with Plan DN-III, the Department of National Defense (SEDENA) has provided support for the construction of shelters, the distribution of provisions in disaster zones, and in regions where full-scale preventive measures are under way. In accordance with these activities, SEDENA has installed and is operating 191 temporary shelters where 31,790 people are receiving support.

The Secretary of Communications and Transportation, Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, is currently in the state of Hidalgo, where he is supervising and evaluating the damage undergone by various stretches of highways and roads, especially in areas close to Tulancingo.

Although educational decentralization places this matter in the hands of state governments, the Secretary of Public Education is evaluating the damage done to schools, especially in Oaxaca. The Administration Committee of the Federal School Construction Program will provide support for the reconstruction of educational facilities damaged by the rains.