Monday, October 24, 2005

(Trans. from Diario de Yucatan) 'The Most Severe Destruction' - 10/24/05


Cozumel, with serious shortages and still without communication

The Mayor of Cozumel, Gustavo Ortega Joaquin, declared that Wilma caused the most severe destruction in the history of the island.

Cozumel, Mexico's most populated island, finds itself totally incomunicado; there is no electrical service, nor potable water, provisions are exhausted and few have food.

At nine in the morning yesterday, the first of two military helicopters arrived with aide for the survivors.

The malecon (seawall) in Cozumel registered severe damage, so the sea swallowed a large part of it, and commercial plazas (malls) are devastated.

Upturned vehicles, telephone posts, uprooted trees are in the principle avenues, houses and businesses are without rooves.

Neither is there telephone service, and the only means of communication are the public telephone booths scattered throughout the streets, by some, large lines formed. Tomorrow morning ferry service is to resume.

A decomposed body was discovered on the malecon. Also, it is said that a Navy diver found three bodies in a flooded avenue.

The mayor informs that he is asking for all inhabitants, together with the local Command of the Secretary of the Marina, to remain in their homes in order to avoid acts of looting occurring in these last hours.

The announcement warned that whomever is surprised on the streets will be commanded to return to their house or will be detained, in order to prevent more sacking and to assure the safety of islanders.

As such, this is not, strictly, a curfew, but rather in order to bring to coordination with military authorities the disposition as it happens. (Aunque estrictamente no es un toque de queda, pues para ello habría que coordinarse con autoridades militares, la disposición funciona como tal.) "We are doing it in order that the people (se medio acalambre?) (regulate relief?)," said the mayor, who gathered that such prudence was well-received by the citizenry.


In Playa Del Carmen, Hurricane Wilma paralyzed all activity for three days. Yesterday, in the late afternoon, the rain finally ceased and the locals (Playenses) left through the streets in search of food.

Dozens of survivors remaining in the shelters since thursday returned to their homes and did not find them the same.

Veronic Poot, a housewife in the community of Puerto Aventuras, faces grave shortages together with her children later in that her husband was not paid for a complete week of work.

A neighbor was given some cans of tuna and helped economically to buy a kilo of tortillas, while they wait for help from the State.

Like her, many locals (Playa del Carmen citizens) have to stand in long lines to get 1 - 3 kilos of tortillas, so some presses (tortilla presses/ companies) begin to work, but with power (plantas de luz).

The product should demand, rationed and sold, up to 12 pesos a kilo.

Mrs. Poot rented a palapa ( a frond roofed hut), but on Oct. 20th, left it with her children in arms, should the strong winds tear off the roof.

The worst was yet to come ... with the passing of the hours, her two year old child suffers fever and is sick with cough from the water that entered through the pool.

Her situation is similar to many families in the populated (poor) colonias of Luis Donaldo Colosio, Ejido and Nicte Ha, where various palapas may have come down under the impact of Wilma.

Dozens of affected persons gathered all day at the seat of the Municipal Palace in search of aid. Marine personnel were mobilized and began to dispense goods (despensas) in the space where the lines were the longest.

(all translation by Lorna dee Cervantes)


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