Mexico: Progress Report on measures to offset the emergency caused by the rains

Report
from Government of Mexico
Published on 12 Oct 1999
Department of the Interior - Bulletin #411-99 - October 12, 1999

In accordance with the priorities established by President Zedillo, measures designed to safeguard local inhabitants, recover the bodies of the deceased, reopen overland access and establish air bridges to guarantee the supply of provisions and basic products, continue. In the four affected states, full access to the damaged municipalities has now been reestablished by using motorboats or helicopters to transport initial aid. Nevertheless, supply has not been constant (for example, in Meztitlán, Hidalgo, and in the municipalities of Ixtepec, Tepetzintla, Hutzilán de Serdán and Huehuetla in Puebla state). This situation has prevailed because adverse weather conditions have hindered air maneuvers. In the northern region of the state of Veracruz, the flooding caused by the Tecolutla and Nautla rivers, as well as by some of their tributaries, has now ceded. Nonetheless, the bad weather affecting the region has made it difficult to carry out clearance work and overcome the emergency. In the southern region, certain sections of the Coatzacoalcos River still remain above critical levels.

Most communities have gradually begun to reactivate their economic activities and local inhabitants are overcoming the emergency with the help of the civil protection units of Federal and state departments and agencies. Meanwhile, the Mexican Army, Air Force, Navy and volunteer groups are working to remove rubble in damaged areas, and to uncover bodies. At the same time, bridges and other means of communication, electricity services and basic infrastructure have all been provisionally restored.

The operation of shelters, the distribution of food, water, medicine and sterile materials, as well as chlorine and other substances for water treatment, are now taking place on a continuous basis. President Ernesto Zedillo has ordered that, as the emergency is resolved, so reconstruction work should begin, in order to restore the affected communities to normality as soon as possible. Thus, the affected areas of the states of Tabasco, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Puebla have officially been declared disaster zones and will subsequently receive budgetary support from the Fund for Natural Disasters (FONDEN).

LATEST REPORT

In line with the latest reports received from the respective state authorities, and for the purpose of keeping the general public informed, the General Civil Protection Coordination Section of the Department of the Interior has provided information containing official figures on the situation prevailing until 12:00 today. It should be noted that, due to the nature of these events, all figures are of a preliminary nature.

State
Affected Municipalities
Persons Killed
Homeless
Temporary Shelters
People received at Shelters
Puebla
49
237
42,000
189
31,860
Veracruz
82
88
87,865
83
15,857
Hidalgo
33
04
59,536
15
1,828
Tabasco
14
00
106,313
152
17,212
TOTAL
178
329
295,714
439
66,757

MAIN ACTIVITIES

The implementation of DN-III and SM-AM 99 Plans by the Mexican Army and Navy, respectively, has continued with the mobilization of more than 12,000 personnel and the utilization of air, land and nautical equipment to aid the population. The 354 Department of Health medical brigades have continued to provide assistance to affected communities and have so far given 88,000 medical consultations in 894 communities; they have also visited 50,000 homes. Likewise, more than 600 tons of medicines and sterile materials have been provided. So far, as mentioned in previous reports, there has been no indication of an epidemic, which occurs when disease rates rise above their normal levels.

However, cases of diarrhea, skin and respiratory infections, and other illnesses, have been registered and attended to. The System for Integral Family Development (DIF) has coordinated its efforts with those of the Mexican Red Cross and with private agencies like the National Chamber of Cargo Auto-transportation (CANACAR). This work has been done at national level and in the states, so as to channel the aid received from the civil population through state and municipal systems.

State DIF systems are receiving food and other basic goods, which are then channeled to the shelters through the municipal DIF systems. Furthermore, the Popular Kitchen Program has been used to provide the inhabitants of affected areas with hot food.

In Puebla, the Department of Communications and Transportation has reopened three of the four damaged highways. The reopened sections are between Tezuitlán-Perote and Tezuitlán-Nautla (opened provisionally). Yesterday, the road was reopened between Huauchinango and Xicotepec de Juárez, thereby reestablishing communications between Pachuca and Tuxpan. Likewise, the Puebla-Puente de Ilita stretch on the Puebla-Tuxpan highway, was also provisionally opened. However, problems still remain on the Chignautla-Tezuitlán section of this highway. In the coming days, access will be reopened to the communities of Teteles de Avila Camacho and Atempan, and only the eight kilometer stretch leading to Chignautla will require further repair.

Likewise, the evaluation and rehabilitation of damaged rural roads has continued in coordination with the state government. Yesterday, in Tezuitlán, the Secretary of Social Development told President Zedillo that the first stage of the Emergency Housing Program will involve the reconstruction of 1,200 houses and the relocation of a further 500 on twelve hectares of safe land which were acquired for this purpose. The Social Attention Tables will continue to receive information directly from victims. In this state, the Department of Social Development (SEDESOL) has so far distributed 159.2 tons of food, 122,000 liters of water and 1,750 liters of milk in communities in 41 municipalities. Through the Special Immediate Reaction Program, the Federal Consumer Protection Agency (PROFECO) placed forty warning stickers on commercial establishments in Tezuitlán, since they had increased and speculated with the prices of basic products, above all, bottled water. In this city, 123 scales and 82 commercial establishments have been verified. These verification activities have been extended to the municipalities of Chignahuapan, Xicotepec and Huauchinango. The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) is currently supervising the revision of high tension lines, and is bringing materials and workers into the affected areas.

In Veracruz, the Department of Communications and Transportation has reopened four of the six damaged highways. These are the Puebla-Perote-Tezuitlán, Perote-Jalapa, Poza Rica-Alamo-Tampico and Tezuitlán-Martínez de la Torre-San Rafael highways. Interruptions have still been reported on the Poza Rica-Veracruz highway, where the Tuxpan-Poza Rica-Gutiérrez Zamora-Tecolutla stretch has now been provisionally reopened. Thus, communications between the city of Veracruz and Nautla, San Rafael, Martínez de la Torre, Tlapacoyan and Tezuitlán, have been restored. On the Gutiérrez Zamora-Casitas stretch, above all, in the critical Guadalupe-Casitas area, brigades are working intensely, and all obstacles should cleared in approximately five days time.

The Altotonga-Tlapacoyan highway was closed in nine places which include one 800 meter landslide; it is estimated that this road will be reopened tomorrow. Likewise, the evaluation and rehabilitation of damaged rural roads has continued in coordination with the state government. The Department of National Defense has incorporated an additional 1,053 elements for the implementation of Plan DN-III in this state. Furthermore, 40,590 liters of drinking water, 19.6 tons of food, 4.5 tons of cooking utensils and three tons of medicine were airlifted into Poza Rica. These actions were reported by the Mexican Navy and also include the transportation of 40 tons of food, 16 tons of medicine, more than 8,000 liters of drinking water, among other goods, as well as the transportation of electrical material and medical personnel to affected zones in the state. Likewise, a total of 2,435 people have so far been evacuated.

In this state, SEDESOL has distributed, to date, more than 853 tons of food, more than 61,000 liters of water and more than 8,000 mattresses and blankets among the communities of 76 municipalities. In the city of Poza Rica, the CFE has already restored 90% of the electrical service and will shortly reach 100% capacity. The aerial recognizance and supervision of high tension wires continues. As part of the emergency operation of the National Water Commission in the northern part of the state, 12 work centers were set up in communities such as Poza Rica, Martínez de la Torre, Gutiérrez Zamora, San Rafael, Tecolutla and Alamo.

The SAGAR is planning to provide support through the Temporary Employment Program and the Alliance for the Countryside to restore infrastructure, begin rehabilitation of roads to transport crops and replace fences in the affected areas. In addition, 300,000 plants are in nurseries to support the citrus growers interested in replanting their orchards.

Hidalgo. The Department of Communication and Transportation has re-established provisional access on the three highways affected in the state: Pachuca-Ciudad Sahag=FAn, Pachuca-Tampico and Pachuca-Tuxpan. In terms of rural roads, the agency reports that 168 have been affected by landslides and washouts along 1,008 kilometers, which is why he six works residences are evaluating damage and construction companies are being hired to work with the Temporary Employment Program renting machinery and equipment to reopen the roads. The Department of the Navy, supporting the inhabitants of the towns of Meztitlán, Metzquititlán, Anajatlán and Huajatenco, in coordination with the municipal authorities, is clearing drainage systems and transporting and distributing food and drinking water. Likewise, more than 90 families and 348 people have been evacuated and transported to a shelter, and 49 people have been reintegrated into their communities (Tlatepec and Coyometo). In this state, SEDESOL has distributed to date more than 81,000 tons of food, 164,000 liters of drinking water, 62 cots, 192 cooking sets, 300 galvanized slates and 10,500 mattresses and blankets in the communities of 30 municipalities. Today, SAGAR will begin aid to farmers and animal breeders from Tulancingo, Metepec and Acatlán. In La Vega de Meztitlán, the National Water Commission distributed 60,000 liters of bottled water, chlorinating supply sources.

In Tulancingo, the CNA brigades are participating in street cleaning and distribution of water and food among the population and the shelters.

Tabasco. The Department of Communications and Transportation reestablished provisional access on six highways that were affected: Coatzacoalcos-Villahermosa, Villahermosa-Ciiudad del Carmen, Villahermosa-Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Villahermosa-Escárcega, El Suspiro-Tenosique and Cárdenas-Comalcalco.

The Mexican Military is still taking care of the people in temporary shelters and the Army continues distributing food packages among the population, as well as transporting personnel to the affected communities. In this state, SEDESOL has distributed to date 146 tons of food, 54,000 liters of water, 4,800 liters of milk. 5,500 rations of baby food, among other goods, among the communities of six municipalities.

SAGAR has delivered support from the Temporary Employment Program to producers of 21 communities in the region of La Chontalpa. The CFE reports that the city of Villahermosa is still plagued by problems resulting from the flooding, hence, electrical service has been suspended in several areas at the request of the users themselves, for security reasons. The CFE is providing electricity to shelters by means of portable generators.

WEATHER REPORT- The National Meteorological Service reports that a low pressure system over the Peninsula of Yucatán and an affluence of humidity from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, favor heavy rains in Veracruz and moderate ones in Tabasco; and an affluence of sea air from the Gulf of Mexico will cause moderate rains in Puebla and light ones in Hidalgo. The flooded areas in the affected states continue to decrease.