Floods in Mexico: Punting in a baseball playground

By David Viñuales

A little more than a week ago, this was the baseball field of San Nicolás. Today, it is a small lake. Eleuterio de Dios used to walk across the playground to get to his milpa, or farm land; now he takes his boat and must go punting to reach it.

"We lost almost everything," he said. The floods arrived at the end of the second maize harvest. Some of the farmers were able to save a little—half, at best. The unlucky ones lost everything.

The question is commonly heard: How long has it been since something like this happened? "It was around ten years, since Hurricane Roxanne. That one flooded everything," says Alelia Ricárdez. "My children built this house a little higher to avoid the same damage happening again."

So this time she was able to help: the families of her five sons took refuge inside her new house. They lost some animals and a big part of the milpa crop, but they saved most of the furniture. "We lifted it and tied it with ropes to the roof," she said. They couldn't save the refrigerator. No time.

But the problem comes now. It's time for the second maize harvest, but the fields are flooded so the farmers can neither harvest this crop nor plant the next. Moreover, there are no seeds. Normally, farmers harvest enough to save seeds for the next season, but in Tabasco this year there aren't any.

"Right here there are fish and prawns instead." Emigrafio Domínguez from Ejido de Potreritos points at his maize field while he speaks. His farm is 300 meters away from the river, but the water arrived and covered everything. He still tries to salvage something: "I have to pick the oranges now, because the tree is dead."

To save some of the corn, he wades through water up to his knees. He gathers four or five ears and takes them to dry land. Though he managed to save his turkey, he lost his hens and watched his ducks go with the water. "The next season will be really hard."

In Ejido de Potreritos, the worries center around the crops - not knowing what will happen next season if the farmers cannot plant in November. "With a hectare and a half of maize, I had enough for the year," says Francisco Dominguez. "Not this time."