Thursday, June 20, 2024

Flooding overwhelms Oaxaca communities, leaving knee-deep water in streets and homes

Heavy rain in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca caused flooding in several communities this week.

One of the worst affected areas is San Mateo del Mar, a small municipality on a thin strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and Laguna Superior.

Neighborhoods near the lagoon, such as Santa Cruz, Barrio Nuevo and San Pablo, have suffered the worst flooding, a local fisherman told the newspaper Reforma.

Residents of San Mateo, located 30 kilometers south of Salina Cruz, say they have received no assistance or aid from authorities despite their homes and the streets of the town being inundated with water for days.

They issued an appeal for help to federal and state authorities accompanied by photographs of the situation they face, Reforma reported.

The fisherman, who asked not to be identified, said there was knee-deep water in the streets and people’s homes. Residents are concerned that the flooding will cause fresh water to be contaminated with sewage, he said.

“It’s certain that the little fresh water [we have] in wells for consumption is beginning to be contaminated,” he said, adding that approximately 18,000 residents depend on the water sources.

The fisherman asserted that the Oaxaca government has only dispatched aid to Santa María del Mar, a neighboring municipality. He also said that people with infected feet due to their submersion in water for days cannot access adequate medical treatment.

“… The clinic doesn’t have supplies, health personnel aren’t there 24 hours, the doctors come and go,” he said.

San Mateo Mayor Bernadino Ponce hasn’t been seen in the flood-affected areas, the fisherman added.

“We’re demanding that resources or benefits directly reach the community authorities … not that pseudo politician. We’re asking the navy, the army and Civil Protection authorities to help families,” he said.

Communities in another municipality on the banks of Laguna Superior have also endured flooding. In the absence of government support, residents of San Dionisio del Mar, including members of several fishing cooperatives, banded together to alleviate flooding in communities such as Pueblo Viejo and Huamúchil.

Assisted by about 15 Zapotec residents of the nearby municipality of Juchitán – where flooding has also occurred – the indigenous Ikoots people of San Dionisio used shovels and picks to dig a channel between the overflowing Laguna Superior and the Pacific Ocean to give the excess water a route to flow out to sea.

That work should have should have been completed by state authorities with heavy machinery, the newspaper El Universal reported, but they didn’t show up to do it despite being urged to do so since Sunday.

The residents finished the work at about 4:00 p.m. Wednesday and subsequently placed a Mexican flag in the sand next to the trench in recognition of the 211th anniversary of the start of the War of Independence against the Spanish and the cooperation of the Ikoots people for the common good.

With reports from Reforma and El Universal 

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