The worst appears to be over in Tabasco after heavy rains last week caused rivers to swell and flooded the capital city Villahermosa and much of the low-lying state, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Now there are fears of disease spreading and looting, and questions about how Tabasco may rebuild. And the Earth is still claiming victims. On Sunday a wall of mud swallowed a village in Chiapas. At least 16 people are missing.
Foreign Policy Association's Mexico blog notes that images of Tabasqueños trapped on their rooftops were reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but that the coordinated response by Mexican authorities prevented a major loss of life, despite Mexico's strained resources:
The newly elected President Felipe Calderon has met many environmental challenges since taking office in 2007. The Mexican petroleum sector, one of Mexico’s main sources of revenue, took many environmental hits with two hurricanes passing through the area of the Gulf of Mexico this past summer where much of Mexico’s oil and gas reserves reside.
The relief efforts stand in stark contrast to how Mexico dealt with disasters during its 71 years of one party rule that ended in 2000. Authorities were slow to react to a catastrophic earthquake in 1985, leaving much of the rescue efforts to the public while officials tried to underplay the casualties. The new culture of disaster response has centered around active civil protection agencies, pre-planned shelters in every community and a lively media, giving minute-by-minute updates on the catastrophes.
Link. In related news on a much smaller scale, a small earthquake rattled hotels in Acapulco after midnight Tuesday but caused no major damage. Here in Mexico City, the local police made rounds across the capital to check on possible injuries and damages, and reported none. At home last night, the tremblor felt like a soft nudge against the wall.
* Photo above by EPA.