The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Flood in Tabasco left more than a million people homeless

A recent flood left more than one million people homeless in Tabasco, Mexico. This is the worst Mexican flood in more than 50 years.The storm killed five people in southern Mexico. One person died in Tabasco and four others died in the adjoining state of Chiapas.

“Tabasco is a neighboring state and I wondered if the floods hurt my home state,” said senior Irving Jimenez-Zavaleta, who is from Veracruz, Mexico. “Mexicans have a strong sense of community and they have showed it through their donations and prayers; however, Tabasco needs the help of the whole world.”

The military has been sent to evacuate thousands of people. People are looking for shelter in schools, churches, privately owned houses, and businesses.

Debra Taylor, a part-time lecturer in psychology, experienced a similar incident during a hurricane in South Florida, when her home became unsafe and she and her son had to stay in a shelter that held about 200 people and about 20 in each room.

“It is not a pleasant situation to be in a shelter,” Taylor said. “You don’t know what it is like to stay in a shelter till you try it.”

BBC News set up a blog for the flood victims to talk about their experiences.

“It’s a tragedy, most of my friends and family lost everything, they spent 20 years working, and they lost everything in 20 minutes,” said Ana Silvia Jimenez, a Tabasco citizen, on the BBC News blog.

Rescuers are using boats and helicopters. Civilians with boats are asked to help rescue people.

The citizens, soldiers, and rescuers tried placing bags of sand in Tabasco’s capital, Villahermosa, in hope to stop the water from coming into the city. However, their efforts did not succeed and the city was left to be emerged in water or the civilians taking the bags for their own homes.

“I believe they are trying to do all that they can,” said sophomore and Mexico-native Isael Sotelo. “I wonder how the people are going to get back to their lives.”

The musky water is causing a risk for diseases, such as cholera and dysentery and diseases caused by mosquitoes, such as malaria and dengue fever.

“It’s one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country,” said President Felipe Calderon said to BBC News.

A common fear is that the abandoned houses in isolated locations will be robbed and destroyed. This fear is a huge risk, since people are unable to return to their homes for a while. Also, raiding businesses for necessities is widespread.

“Unfortunately this happens to people who have no resources and they build their homes in unsafe areas,” said Laura Ibarra, visiting lecturer of Spanish. “They build their houses on river banks and cliffs and when a disaster occurs, that is the end of their homes.”

Throughout Mexico there are stores, cafeterias, public offices, and other places collecting food and supplies to send to Tabasco.

“People who live on the road between Villahermosa and Teapa are suffering from hunger because they cannot get food supplies,” said Gaby from Teapa, Tabasco, to BBC News.

“We need water, please help us.”

According to BBC News, Tabasco has no electricity, its streets are blocked, and families are stuck in their houses. There were about 300,000 people trapped in their homes. Eighty percent of families lost their possessions. People were stuck on their roofs waiting to be rescued.

“One group spotted by a Reuters reporter on a roof held a banner reading: ‘There are children, pregnant women, sick women. Send the police,’ ” said BBC News.

There is news that crocodiles have traveled into the city.

“There have been reports that the crocodiles that live in the lagoons around the city have traveled with the water into some residential areas and have taken dogs,” said Mark Pius Charlton from Tabasco to BBC News.

The storm has also damaged the oil industry. And, according to BBC News, Tabasco lost 100 percent of their crops and 70 percent of the state is underwater.

When the oil platform was placed in another part of the Gulf of Mexico, 21 people died. The workers had to jump into the water for safety. Three of Mexico’s main oil ports were forced to close, which stopped all exports and a fifth of the country’s oil.

Tabasco and Chiapas are a long way off from recovering and need help. The community needs food, water, blankets, medicine, and necessary basics. The rescuers are asking for rope and boats.

“Necessary things become scarce when floods occur,” said Yasmin Casado, the director of Hispanos Unidos de Guilford (H.U.G). “Students can donate anything they have such as canned foods, clothes, and basic things like soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste; the people there have lost everything.

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