FCF Project: Project H.E.L.P.
In early October of 1999 intense rains pounded southern Mexico, causing severe flooding in six states. This calamity was declared “the tragedy of the century” by Mexico’s President. The floods left hundreds dead, damaged thousands of homes, and caused gigantic landslides. Continued rain and broken dams inflicted further damage. It has taken months for the floodwaters to drain.
When the flooding began, a team of H.E.L.P. volunteers set out to aid flood victims in the remote town of Metztitlan, Hidalgo, three hours north of Mexico City. This area had received hardly any food aid up until then. From the road, we saw mile after mile of flooded fields, with only treetops and rooftops rising above the muddy waters. Just days earlier these fields had been fertile crop lands, filled with black beans, corn, pumpkins, and other vegetables that are the main staple of the local economy. Now, it was all a lake that stretched for about 20 kilometers (12 miles).
We learned of a stranded town that all donated goods had bypassed, some of these even being misappropriated, sad to say. The army captain in charge of the area asked us if we could personally distribute the food we’d brought to the stranded flood victims, and he arranged for motor boats to transport the supplies and us. While passing on the provisions, the looks of gratitude and joy that we received from mothers with children, empty bags in hand, more than melted away our tiredness.
With officials having estimated that it will be eight months before the last of the floodwaters drain, project H.E.L.P. continues helping those whose lives have been severely affected by this disaster.