Photo: Some of the devastation in Mexico as a result of flooding. Please read update below. Courtesy, Murray Hawkins
U.M. JOINT COMMISSION/HANDS ACROSS THE BORDER BAJA CALIFORNIA FLOOD UPDATE
This is an update on the Baja California floods of last week. I arrived home last night at 2:30 a.m. from a two day visit to the area. Theattachment gives the current status of the various communities of the SanQuintin Valley and adjacent areas. This, however, is the story of San Simon. San Simon is a community of overa hundred hoses and is inhabited by people who work in the local tomatogreenhouses and packing houses. They live simple lives with only the mostbasic of possessions. This was the strongest storm of the past fifty years. The rains were atleast as heavy as they were here.
Where the infrastructure held, theproblems were mostly wind related. There are literally hundreds, if notthousands of roofs that need to be fixed or replaced along the 45 or so milestrip of the Valley. The rain lasted for three full days. After twelve hours of continuous rain,the town of San Simon was hit by a violent flash flood that turned thestreets into deep and raging rivers. Trees and power poles were uprootedand paved roads were undermined. The torrent of water and mud raged throughthe homes. Anything hit by the two to three foot river was ruined. Stoves,refrigerators, mattresses, cooking utensils, clothing, furniture, and justabout everything the people owned was either invaded by the mud and ruinedor washed away altogether. Entire big trees washed were taken out and washed down the street.
The pastor, people of the Free Methodist Church from neighboring El Papalote,and students at their seminary drove their bus, a pickup truck and joinedlocal farmers with tractors in the area in a successful effort to rescuetheir neighbors. Neither army troops nor rescue units would not enter.Some of the waterways were several feet deep. The current was filled withdebris as well as the possessions of the families in San Simon. Incredibly,they were able to get everybody out except for two families who had to spendthe night, one on their rooftops and the other in the bed of a large truck.Miraculously, there were no injuries or loss of life in San Simon. Almost the entire area was ruined. The roads into and out of the Valleywere washed out. Four major bridges had sections washed out or wereundermined. The communities were cut off from supplies and aid for six days.
Pastor Ramon, of the Free Methodist Church, has turned their seminary into ashelter. At present there are an average of 100 people staying there. Thecongregation is preparing 300 meals each day to feed them. They only have30 mattress pads and 30 UMCOR blankets that were provided through theMethodist Border Ministry Network and the United Methodist Joint Commission- more on this later. Pastor Ramon has been able to provide clothing that, so far, has beenadequate. He will need more in the future to meet their needs as time goeson. The challenge is to support the people of San Ramon by provided neededassistance with emergency food. This need will continue until the homes arere-outfitted with kitchen appliances and utensils, a task that will likelytake months. In addition, more clothing will be needed. The greatest task will be to help with the reconstruction of homes that havebeen damaged or destroyed altogether.
Watch the "You Tube" video to see a video taken by "Chencho," the owner ofone of the local tomato farms as he drove his Humvee through the riverspicking people up and taking them to safety.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtfoygrAGUo The water reached a depth of twice that shown in the video.
You can also see the truck filled with soldiers who did nothing while the local churchpeople and the man in the Hummer did their jobs. You will also see thevehicles from the Free Methodist Church as they did their job. The water grew deeper and access could only take place with farm tractorsthat were able to pluck people from where the water and take them to a roadwhere the church bus could take them to the safety of the shelter at theseminary.
UMCOR has committed funds to help with the feeding of the people in the manyshelters throughout the Valley as well as families who can live in theirhomes but for whom their meager financial resources have stopped along withtheir agricultural jobs. This leaves the clothing and items to reequip their homes, along withconstruction materials and work teams.
This disaster is, on a smallerscale, every bit as large as the flooding of New Orleans and Mississippi bythe hurricane. The human suffering is, at present, just as great. The goodnews is that there is employment in the area, even if it is low pay andprobably will be sporadic for the immediate future as the farms recover, aswell. In addition to money, materials, and household items, we will need workteams to help rebuild San Simon and other communities, as well.
Please be in prayer about how you can become involved in showing Jesus' love to our neighbors, both as an individual and as a congregation.
Blessings, Murray Hawkins, PresidentUM Joint Commissionmurray@mexicomissionproject.org(909) 793-5171