Mexico: Reports on the measures implemented by the Federal Government to aid the communities affected by rain

Report
from Government of Mexico
Published on 22 Oct 1999
Bulletin No. 429/99

* The dams belonging to the Grijalva River Hydroelectric System in Tabasco are being constantly monitored; Civil Protection has alerted the local population.

* The Mexican Army and Navy have continued to distribute provisions through air and sea bridges.

* The Villahermosa-Escárcega highway was reopened yesterday.

* No epidemics have been reported and only isolated cases of sickness have been confirmed.

During his work tour to the affected areas of Puebla, President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León continued to supervise measures to aid the population and facilitate reconstruction work. During this tour, the President visited Cuetzalan, Xochitlán de Romero Rubio, Zacapoaxtla and Oriental. He was accompanied by the Secretaries of National Defense, Social Development, Communications and Transportation, Public Education, Health, as well as by the General Director of the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF).

Likewise, officials from the General Civil Protection Coordination Section of the Department of the Interior; of the Federal Electricity Commission; the National Water Commission; and the Tabasco state Civil Protection System, have evaluated the situation of the dams belonging to the Grijalva River Hydroelectric System. They have also monitored the water levels of the Grijalva and other rivers, which have risen due to the heavy rains of Monday October 18th, produced by cold front number seven.

Yesterday, the Tabasco state Civil Protection system announced that people living near rivers and in flooded lowland areas, should take the appropriate measures to protect their families and possessions, and should go to the nearest shelters.

The Federal Electricity Commission and the National Water Commission issued a joint press release in which they announced that dams belonging to the Grijalva River Hydroelectric System which, in recent weeks have held volumes of more than ten billion cubic meters of water, are now close to their maximum storage capacities. Thus, monitoring activities have been intensified so as to implement measures to guarantee the security of the local population.

The Department of National Defense has continued its support for communities affected by the rains and, through more than 20,000 elements, 33 helicopters, 864 vehicles and 48 motorboats, has also extended its operations to the state of Oaxaca. In the last 24 hours, the Mexican Army made 141 helicopter flights and overland trips to distribute almost 142 tons of provisions and more than 100,000 liters of water. Likewise, a total of more than 2,400 tons of provisions and almost 2,800,000 liters of drinking water have also been accumulated for distribution.

Furthermore, in the 76 shelters, this Department has established 66 community kitchens and, so far, almost 1.5 million rations of hot food have been distributed.

During this same period, military personnel have removed almost 6,000 cubic meters of rubble in 83 communities; so far, almost 140,000 cubic meters of rubble have been removed from damaged communities. In Tabasco, close to 49,000 sandbags were placed on the Carrizal River dyke, and a further 9,000 were situated around the social readaptation center. To date, more than 500,000 sandbags have been set in place. Finally, due to the latent risk of an overflow, constant reconnaissance work is under way near the dam situated at San Gregorio in the municipality of Huehuetla, Hidalgo.

Through a detachment of 2,614 elements, and with 16 ships, 36 motorboats, 14 helicopters and 51 land vehicles, the Department of the Navy has maintained its sea and air bridges to affected zones in Tabasco, Hidalgo, Veracruz and Oaxaca. Thus, during the last 24 hours, a total of 684 people, more than 86 tons of provisions, almost 11,000 liters of water, and more than 19 tons of medicines and other goods, were transported.

Yesterday, the Department of Communications and Transportation provisionally reopened the Villahermosa-Escárcega highway. Despite heavy rains over the last few hours, and with the exception of the restriction applied to light vehicles on the Coatzacoalcos-Villahermosa section, all remaining state highways have remained open to traffic. Alternative routes have been established for vehicles traveling between these cities.

The Health Care Sector has confirmed that, so far, there have been no reports of epidemics in the states were sanitary alerts were decreed. Of the approximately 19,000 laboratory samples obtained by epidemiological medical brigades, only 14 cases of dengue have been reported in Puebla; one case of malaria was registered in Tabasco, and three cases of malaria and seven cases of dengue in Veracruz. All of these figures are lower than those expected under normal conditions in these zones during this period of the year.

LATEST REPORT

In accordance with the latest reports received from the respective state authorities and with the aim of keeping the Mexican people fully informed, the General Civil Protection Coordination Section of the Department of the Interior will provide information containing official figures on the situation prevailing until 12:00 hours today.

State
Affected Municipalities
Deaths
Homeless
Temporary Shelters
People in Shelters
Puebla
49
250
43,611
277
43,611
Veracruz
83
123
91,610
64
7,398
Hidalgo
33
04
62,434
7
378
Tabasco
16
00
161,452
212
20,688
TOTAL
181
377
367,107
560
72,075

The National Meteorological Service announced that stationary front No. 7 has spread out over the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula, to produce isolated clouds and heavy rain in Tabasco.

The arrival of tropical marine air from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico will lead to electrical storms and moderate rain in Veracruz, and light rain in Hidalgo and Puebla.

In view of this situation and the rising water levels of rivers and dams in the state of Tabasco, Federal, state and municipal authorities are working together through the National Civil Protection System and, as a preventive measure, have alerted the population to the risk of further flooding. Likewise, local inhabitants have been evacuated from high-risk areas and have been taken to the shelters established for such purposes.

Furthermore, the Department of Communications and Transportation has recommended a series of precautions for vessels navigating in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Tehuantepec, and in the Yucatán Channel and Peninsula, due to the presence of wind, rain and heavy swell.