Five days after the September 7 earthquake cut off all road access to 12 Mixe communities in the Oaxaca sierra, heavy machinery has cleared the slides and cleared the way for aid and rescue workers.
Heavy rainfall before and after the quake made things worse, causing more than 70 major rock and mudslides, blocking traffic on federal highways 179 and 190 that connect the Central Valleys of Oaxaca state with the Mixe mountains and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region.
The course of naturally flowing water in the Mixe mountains was dramatically diverted after the earth shifted last week, and the road connecting the towns of Yacochi and Zacatepec is now partially flooded by several small waterfalls.
During the five days that land access was blocked, residents of communities in the mountains could only leave on foot. The injured had to be carried out on stretchers through the rubble and reach the major urban center of Tlacolula de Matamoros and its medical facilities.
Municipal authorities from the Upper Mixe region have reported that some 500 dwellings sustained structural damage after the earthquake, along with 10 schools.
Residents of the municipalities of San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla, Tamazulapam del Espíritu Santo, Santa María Yacochi, Santiago Choapam, Camotlán, Quetzaltepec and Santiago Zacatepec are still waiting for phone, mobile and electrical services to be reestablished.
In Santiago Zacatepec, municipal officials have demanded aid from federal and state authorities. “Help should not only be sent to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. There was destruction and damage here, too, and we don’t want to be forgotten and to be ignored, as has happened in other natural disasters,” they told the newspaper Milenio.
Maribel Alejo Cristóbal and Cruz Romero said after the state Civil Protection agency was alerted about the situation in the Mixe towns they were told that an airlift would transport food, drugs, water and blankets. But nothing had arrived.
In response, Zacatepec Mayor Estroberta Ramírez López left for Mexico City with a group of residents to personally deliver a letter to the Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong to request humanitarian aid.
Some towns are still waiting for government officials to assess homes and schools to determine if they can remain standing or should be demolished. An official assessment and a disaster declaration would put much needed construction materials at their disposal.
In other towns and communities, the Mixe people have started to organize and clear up the rubble of destroyed buildings. Others have started to make adobe bricks to be used in the reconstruction process.
“Here in our land we learned from a young age to make adobe out of dirt and mud, and we’re working to help our brothers in misfortune. Let’s hope the government offers its support with metal roofing to replace the roofs that fell,” said one resident
Source: Milenio (sp)