The emergency phase has concluded. No longer are stranded residents being plucked off rooftops in Tabasco, Mexico. Yet, the need for water and food remains. Hundreds of thousands of families in the capital of Villahermosa and across the state are still without electricity, running water or access to stores after unusually heavy rains created devastating floods in the area.
American Red Cross CEO Mark Everson and Winnie Romeril, a volunteer with the American Red Cross in upstate New York. Romeril was deployed to support the relief efforts at the request of the Mexican Red Cross. She is bi-lingual and recently finished a short-term assignment with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Winnie Romeril/ARC)
Red Cross workers load supplies into a helicopter and prepare to take them to the survivors of the devastating floods. (Winnie Romeril/ARC)
The solution, according to the Mexican Red Cross, is to give the people more… more water, milk, food, diapers, toilet paper, soap, and, yes, even salsa. This is Mexico, after all.
The plan, initiated by the Red Cross, is to provide the Aztlan communities with enough supplies to meet basic needs of those stranded for up to two weeks.
With one phone call from Colonel Abeldaro Garfias Cazadero to Isaac Oxenhaus—national director of response for the Mexican Red Cross—145 tonnes of water, milk, food and other basic supplies are delivered to military installations at the university, Cardenas and the airport. The sheer pace of emergency items coming into Tabasco—not to mention their speedy delivery into eager outstretched hands—is dizzying.
As of November 14, the Mexican Red Cross mobilized around 6,000 volunteers, while delivering approximately 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid, consisting mainly of food and water. More than 200,000 relief packages were delivered to the hardest hit communities.
Waiting for Flood Waters to Recede
Flood waters are slowly receding. Meanwhile, Mexican Red Cross volunteers continue to sort, record, weigh and load supplies by hand.
I traveled on one helicopter on loan from the state of Nueva Leon loaded with the typical cargo of water and Red Cross subsistence relief packages. Ten minutes after take-off from the makeshift heliport in Ciudad Deportiva sports complex in Villahermosa, we circle a crowd of waving "islanders" and land 150 meters from a roughly constructed shelter on a strip of land where 70 families remain stranded.
The men of the community help to off-load supplies, while the women rush to me to ask for milk and mattresses. The helicopter touches down for around five minutes as human chains of Red Cross, Federal Police, Civil Protection and other volunteers rush to finish unloading the supplies from the aircraft.
As I pull away when I hear the rotors speeding in preparation for lift off, Georgina Ocuña, one of the local women who greeted our arrival, plants a soft kiss on my cheek and says in a voice barely audible above the churning helicopter blades, "Thank you to the Red Cross for saving us. God bless you all."
You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Please call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.