Church Helps Victims of Mexico Flooding

Thousands Still Await Evacuation

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MEXICO CITY, NOV. 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Mexico and the Caritas aid organization are aiding thousands of families who lost everything in the flooding that devastated the southern state of Tabasco.



Flooding left 800,000 people homeless and more than half of the low-lying state under water when the Grijalva River swelled its banks earlier this week after days of heavy rains. Thousands of people are reportedly still in their homes, waiting for rescue teams to reach them.

The local Caritas is responding to the situation by distributing aid such as food and water to the affected communities. The floodwaters have heightened the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dengue fever.

“This is the worst disaster in Mexico’s recent history. The rains are expected to continue so we think it will only get worse,” said Caritas Latin America Coordinator Father José Antonio Sandoval. “Already we’ve seen that people are coming together in solidarity and support.

"The picture is becoming clearer, and we know we face an immediate task of providing emergency aid for tens of thousands of survivors. Once the waters have receded, we will have a better idea of the long-term cost.”

Caritas Mexico is evaluating the disaster to see what will be needed to support rehabilitation and reconstruction to help the survivors. Tabasco is one of the poorest areas of Mexico, and the long-term rebuilding effort is expected to be a major operation.

Caritas Mexico has set up 14 centers in Mexico City to start collecting aid to help the people of Tabasco.

“As the Church, we are inviting people to contribute to a national collection to show our solidarity as well as to unite in prayer with our brothers and sisters who have been affected,” said Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, president of the Mexican episcopal conference. “This financial support allows us to collaborate with our sister diocese in Tabasco so that they can bring aid to those most in need.”

Caribbean

Catholic Relief Services announced Friday an initial commitment of $1.5 million toward emergency relief and recovery assistance for thousands of people affected by a series of storms in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.

The aid organization, which is working closely with Caritas Mexico and Caritas Tabasco, has pledged $1 million to provide food, water, blankets and other basic emergency supplies to thousands of affected families in that country.

Long-term recovery efforts will likely include agricultural rehabilitation -- about 90% of Tabasco’s crops were inundated by the floods -- and housing construction and repair.

An additional $500,000 will support relief efforts already under way in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, where Tropical Storm Noel, the deadliest storm to hit the region since Jeanne in 2004, lashed the Caribbean earlier this week.