Last week, Mexico braced for the fallout from Hurricane Patricia, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.
In preparation, tens of thousands of people who were in the storm’s path evacuated their homes and headed for shelters in response to urgent warnings from the Mexican government. Fortunately, the storm weakened quickly after making landfall in a sparsely populated area, sparing Mexico’s western coast from the worst. The storm’s strong winds and rains did still damage homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops. While the destruction was much more manageable than originally feared, for the families who lost their home or entire crop of bananas or papayas, the damage is devastating.
As the storm dissipated, Oxfam deployed a rapid assessment team to evaluate the needs of communities and determine where we can best provide emergency assistance. After speaking with the people affected, Oxfam has outlined our response that will initially focus on:
- Getting people back to work: Fishermen, owners of small food businesses on the beach and daily workers were most affected in the short term, and will see a drop in business until they are able to rebuild. Oxfam can help by providing cash so families can repair and reopen their businesses.
- Health and Sanitation: The storm left pools of stagnant water and debris behind. Oxfam will will distribute mosquito nets and information on the importance of proper hygiene to prevent illnesses like Dengue and Chikungunya.
- Communication: The Mexican government was proactive and evacuated communities in the storm’s path and is offering support for those who lost crops or suffered other damages. Oxfam will help ensure that people, especially women, are informed and know how to access these services.
It is still early and some areas that were hit hardest are difficult to reach in order to fully assess damage. Oxfam’s team in Mexico will continue to speak with communities in the wake of the storm to help them stay safe, healthy and rebuild their homes, businesses and communities.