A sinkhole in Querétaro. A sinkhole in Querétaro.

First earthquakes, then severe flooding

Heavy rains causing problems from Nuevo Laredo to Juchitán

A month of earthquakes is quickly turning into a month of flooding.

From Tamaulipas in the north to Querétaro in the middle and to Oaxaca in the south, a lot of Mexico is under water.

The worst off are probably citizens of Oaxaca’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec, thousands of whom have been left without shelter after the September 7 earthquake that was followed by an aftershock last Saturday.

The region’s 41 municipalities had already been declared a disaster area due to the September 7 and 19 quakes. Today there is flooding in at least seven of them because drainage systems sustained earthquake damage.

Juchitán residents have been calling for tarpaulins to help keep the rain off for 25,000 families who are sleeping outdoors, but they say they are arriving just a few at a time.

A report this afternoon from the state’s Mixteca region said 27 homes have been buried in a landslide, but state Civil Protection authorities say no one was hurt. The 53 people affected, residents of the Triqui indigenous community Yosoyuxi Copala in the municipality of Juxtlahuaca, have been transferred to a temporary shelter, they said.

Rivers and dams throughout the state are at historically high levels, according to the National Water Commission (Conagua).

Torrential rains in Querétaro Tuesday night caused major flooding that affected dozens of neighborhoods across four municipalities and left one person dead in the state capital.

Hundreds of families were evacuated from San Juan del Río, the state’s second city located about 50 kilometers southeast of the capital. In the worst affected neighborhood of La Rueda, emergency crews had to use boats provide by local fishermen to rescue about 200 stranded people and, in some cases, their pets.

Initial reports said the city’s river broke its banks because floodgates were opened at the Constitución de 1857 dam and the volume of water that escaped was more than that anticipated by the National Water Commission (Conagua).

But the state office of the federal agency denied the claim, saying that the overflowing of the San Juan river was caused by heavy rain that fell in the river’s basin.

State Governor Francisco Domínguez visited affected areas of the city yesterday and announced that the state Social Development Secretariat would carry out a census of damaged homes in order to determine eligibility for government compensation.

Some 270 people spent Tuesday night at a San Juan del Río shelter due to the flooding, Domínguez said.

He also indicated that state police and elements of the military had contributed to evacuation efforts and would continue to be deployed in affected areas to prevent robberies from evacuated homes. Six people have already been arrested for the offense, he said.

The torrential rains also affected the state’s capital, Santiago de Querétaro, where around 750 people were forced to spend the night in alternative accommodation.

In the worst affected neighborhood, Santa María Magdalena, up to 200 homes were flooded, according to a local media report.

One man died after being swept away by flood waters in the Benito Juárez industrial park and two sinkholes opened on city roads including one that trapped a bus and a taxi, although no lives were lost. Querétaro mayor Marco Aguilar said that the damage would be assessed in order to determine the amount needed for their repair. Several other vehicles were also stranded by flooding.

In the municipality of Corregidora, another sink hole opened and several roads were cut due to flooding, the mayor said.

Yosoyuxi Copala

Classes have been suspended at all public schools in Querétaro, San Juan del Río, Corregidora and El Marqués until Monday, October 2.

In the north, a key transportation route in Tamaulipas and Nuevo León was closed late Tuesday due to flooding and partially reopened yesterday afternoon. A 30-kilometer stretch of the Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey freeway is down to two lanes while repairs are under way.

There has also been flooding in Nuevo Laredo, and more is possible as the Río Bravo began overflowing its banks this morning.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Sol de San Juan del Río (sp), Excélsior (sp), El Universal (sp), Reforma (sp), Excélsior (sp)

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