Hurricane damage in Agua Caliente Nueva, La Huerta. Hurricane damage in Agua Caliente Nueva, La Huerta. facebook/Huracán-Patricia-Destrozos

Slow response, rain challenge victims

Unhelpful bureaucracy, politics slow delivery of hurricane aid

Residents of Jalisco are still struggling to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Patricia as government aid stalls and torrential rains lash the Mexican coast in the wake of the storm.

The municipality of La Huerta, where a census was taken, serves as an indicator of the plight faced by residents in the aftermath of the Category-5 storm: 84% of its 247 buildings were damaged with only a handful of homeowners succeeding in patching up their roofs before torrential downpours hit over the weekend.

In the 10 days since Patricia struck Jalisco, efforts at reconstruction have been slow, with government aid varying from one neighborhood to the next and affected by unhelpful bureaucracy, uneven media coverage and – according to some accounts – party politics.

“It depends a lot on the place,” said a worker for the charity Oxfam when asked about the quality of government aid. “[The town of] Chamela, for example, has received a lot of media coverage and a lot of help has arrived.”

Speaking last week in the coastal municipality of Cihuatlán, state Governor Aristóteles Sandoval – without knowing that the storm that night had provoked a new emergency in the region – insisted that aid had been delivered rapidly.

“This has not been the first catastrophe nor the first adversity that you have confronted,” he told residents. “But also never before have you seen a response with such speed.”

At first sight, Chamela, with just a few houses in need of repair, would appear to justify such a confident claim. But upon closer investigation it appears that much of the aid it received came as a result of private bodies and individuals taking it upon themselves to demand or provide it.

“After the hurricane on Saturday night the governor’s wife arrived with a mobile kitchen to give us food,” said Alberto, one of the residents. “And an organization called Cadeno Mano a Mano sent 15 workers to help us repair our homes.”

Fifty kilometers south of Chamela, some are a lot more cynical about how helpful the government is being. In La Manzanilla, one of La Huerta’s few public beaches, Galvina García and her family are working round the clock to rebuild their restaurant overlooking the sea so they can reopen for business when the high tourist season starts in 15 days. The government has promised aid, but García has little faith that it will materialize.

“Already they are playing politics with the food supplies, giving them to whoever they want – those who voted for them,” she said. “You can imagine the rest of it.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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