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Posts Tagged ‘flooding’

Oaxaca continues to be inundated with rain.  I’m in Colorado now (inhaling smoke from fires throughout the west), but friends in Oaxaca are describing flooding, leaking roofs, water coming through windows and doors, and rain without end. Today’s news is reporting more than 13 communities are incommunicado and that urban development is a major cause of flooding by the Atoyac River that runs through the valley of Oaxaca.

Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from the builders of Monte Albán, where the Pre-Hispanic drainage works better than current systems.

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Yesterday, the clouds gathered, the sky darkened, and about 5 PM…

And, yes, I did jump!

However, it’s no laughing matter for the farmers and folks who live near rivers.  Río Atoyac, which runs alongside the heart of the city and which one must cross to reach the airport, rapidly reached flood stage and breached its banks in several places (Noticias has video).  In addition, because the ground is already supersaturated, mudslides have already begun to occur in the mountains.

CONAGUA explains that the large area of atmospheric instability over the Gulf of Tehuantepec along with tropical depression 13 in the Gulf of Mexico (that’s the one threatening Louisiana), are the moisture-laden culprits.

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Tears have  been falling on Oaxaca.  This season has brought historic rainfall courtesy of multiple hurricanes and tropical depressions in the Gulf and Pacific.  Ground is supersaturated, rivers have overflowed, fields and villages are flooded, bridges have collapsed, overpasses are closed and, in the city, water has been pouring down from hills, turning city streets into rushing streams and leaving streets potholed and sidewalks covered with a fine silt.  Twice in the past month a huge hole has opened up just a block away, closing a major bus route.

Hole in the road

The damage has been occurring daily for several months and, watching CNN International, I kept asking, “What about Oaxaca?  Why are they ignoring the unfolding tragedy here that has been devastating the homes and livelihoods of impoverished and mostly indigenous communities?”

Unfortunately, it took a lethal avalanche of mud and boulders tumbling down onto the remote mountain village of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec (50 miles east of Oaxaca City) in the early morning hours of Sept. 28 to bring rain-soaked Oaxaca to the world’s attention.  Thankfully, early estimates of the possible death toll proved to be exaggerated, but the destruction is catastrophic and the communities require an enormous amount of assistance.

Relief efforts have begun, collection stations have been set up throughout the city, and the Oaxaca Lending Library, where I volunteer, is spearheading its own drive to gather supplies and cash.  In addition, the Oaxaca Lending Library Foundation, a US tax exempt 501(c)3, is collecting financial contributions.  Dr. Alberto Zamacona, a Oaxaca Lending Library board member, runs medical missions to the Santa María Tlahuitoltepec area and will be overseeing the purchase and delivery of construction materials to help rebuild this extremely poor Mixe community.  If you would like to donate, please send a check to:

OLLF, c/o James Corrigan, 5443 Drover Drive, San Diego, CA 92115, USA

AND write “Flooding” in the memo portion of the check.  Donations will be transferred to Oaxaca and the Foundation’s treasurer will send you a receipt for tax purposes.  The need is great, so any donation you can make will be much appreciated and put to good use.

Unfortunately, this may have been another human-caused tragedy that could have been avoided.  Corruption And Deforestation Caused Oaxaca’s Mudslide Disaster, an informative and thought-provoking article by Kristen Bricker explores this issue.  And Oaxaca continues to weep….

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