Fallen bridges, destroyed houses and schools and people without a place to live are the aftermath of an Atlantic hurricane that struck the Puebla communities of Chicahuaxtla and Xaltepec one year ago.
Hurricane Earl made landfall in Veracruz on August 5, subsequently killing 20 in both towns and severely damaging local infrastructure.
Residents say public officials of all levels of government responded promptly and travelled to the towns, located in the adjoining municipalities of Tlaola and Huauchinango.
Governor Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas and his succcessor, José Antonio Gali Fayad, visited as did Secretary of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning Rosario Robles and other government officials, all promising to rebuild. But in the end all they did was take the official photos and leave, say residents.
“They’ve forgotten about us. We don’t know why no one came back with the public works projects they promised,” charged Elodia Amador. “It’s like, as far as they’re concerned, nothing happened here.”
In Chicahuaxtla, Micaela Picazo Ortiz told the newspaper Reforma that “the town’s already dead. Nobody’s done anything for us, they forgot and here we are in fear of the same thing happening, only worse this time, because everything’s already destroyed.”
A bridge that serves as access to the town was swept away by a torrential surge, and people cross on makeshift structures made out of steel, tree trunks and pieces of wood.
Anyone entering the town is greeted by the remains of a house half buried in earth; the local primary school is in similar condition.
Governor Gali, who took office in February, visited the neighboring town of Xaltepec this year and delivered long-awaited houses built on land owned by the residents.
But residents say the houses are uninhabitable. Hipolito Pérez told Reforma that the 42-square-meter dwellings lack running water, power and sewage disposal, and that the bathrooms are simply empty rooms.
Officials delivered 25 water tanks to equip the houses but they remain where they were unloaded, some 50 meters away from the town’s church. Homeowners cannot install them themselves because they are not authorized to remove them.
Although Gali personally handed the houses over to local citizens, he neglected to leave them the keys.