More than six weeks after severe flooding claimed lives and damaged homes and businesses in Tula, Hidalgo, and other nearby municipalities, victims still haven’t received any support from the federal government.
The lack of support has provoked “enormous anger and disappointment” in Tula, according to the newspaper El Universal.
Residents’ anger is also directed at the National Water Commission (Conagua) for its allegedly poor management of water that was diverted to the Tula River from the greater Mexico City metropolitan area after heavy rain on September 6.
Banners hung from homes and businesses near the Tula River, which overflowed, claim that “Tula wasn’t flooded, they [Conagua] flooded it.”
According to the federal government’s social programs delegate in Hidalgo, a census identified 3,000 people in 12 municipalities in the state’s south whose homes and/or businesses were damaged in the flood.
In an interview with El Universal, Abraham Mendoza Zenteno conceded that no date has been set for when residents will receive government assistance.
There has been speculation that recently announced support payments of between 4,500 and 35,000 pesos (US $220-$1,725) will go to victims of the September 7 flooding but Mendoza clarified that that assistance is for victims of Hurricane Grace, which affected several states, including Hidalgo, in late August.
In Tula, flooding victims are fed up with waiting for government support that might never arrive. Consuelo Ortiz, whose home (which doubles as a shop) was damaged by floodwaters, told El Universal she hasn’t received any assistance from any level of government.
She said she lost everything due to water damage, and she is still cleaning up 44 days later. Ortiz said the six members of her household, including two young girls, are all sleeping on the floor on thin mattresses donated by a telephone company.
For her and her family the federal government has been a disappointment, El Universal reported.
“They’re fine – they have food to eat and somewhere to sleep, that’s why they don’t care about what happened to us,” Ortiz said.
The owner of a Tula locksmith’s shop whose business/home also sustained extensive flooding claimed the federal government had forsaken him and other flooding victims.
“[President] López Obrador said he would visit us … but he didn’t and he won’t. We’ve had a lot of faith in him, he’s a good president but he abandoned us, he failed us,” said Vicente Castillo.
“We lost everything,” he said, adding that the cost of the damage was immense. Castillo said his home flooded in a matter of minutes and was eventually inundated by three meters of water.
A nearby laundromat also bore the brunt of the floodwaters, which damaged washing machines, dryers, computers and other valuable items. Owner Yésica Ochoa Hernández said her losses totaled 150,000 pesos (US $7,400), but she’s received no help from the government.
She told El Universal she had to take out a 13,000-peso loan to repair two of her washing machines so she could reopen her business and feed her family. Like many other Tula residents, Ochoa blames Conagua for the September 7 disaster.
“We’re not asking to be gifted anything … we’re demanding that they pay us, that they provide compensation for an act that the government provoked, it wasn’t the people or nature,” she said. “Conagua must take responsibility.”
Mendoza, the social programs delegate, rejected claims that the federal government has abandoned Tula, noting that the navy, army and National Guard were all deployed to the city to respond to the flood. He also dismissed claims that Conagua was to blame.
“What citizens are asking is that another flood be avoided and we’re working on that. We have to provide certainty to citizens that there will be no repeat of this kind of disaster,” Mendoza said.
With reports from El Universal