Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hurricane Manuel in La Montaña

There is usually no river here.

Ay, what a day! I left Tlapa in the rain this morning, and I arrived in Cuernavaca ten hours later in the rain. Because of Hurricane Manuel hitting Tlapa on the weekend, there has been no phone service of any kind, no Internet service, and—until today—no entry in or out of the area. The heavy rains washed out the roads in many places, flooded them in others, and left huge piles of rocks, trees, and mud in other places. This was the worst disaster in the area since 1989, when a similar storm occurred.

The metal roof from Mission Mexico
Besides roads being washed out, many homes and business were simply carried away by raging rivers and flooding. A number of years ago Mission Mexico supported the construction of a roof over the central court area of the Catholic Church’s diocesan retreat/meeting center, and that roof is definitely serving people now. Hundreds of displaced people are staying there now, and the roof is protecting them from the elements.

With no traffic able to enter Tlapa (for example, I was able to get out, but it involved climbing muddy mountain paths in the rain to get around sections where there was simply no more road), the town’s three gasoline stations have run out of gasoline. The people who could afford to do it stocked up on food and purified drinking water. Without Internet, the town’s banks have been closed. No one is sure how long it will take to restore things to “normal.”

When I left Canada last week, my mother was in intensive care in the hospital, after suffering a brain aneurysm and a heart attack. I could pray for her on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, but there was no way to communicate with anyone “on the outside.” I knew that my wife and two daughters in Canada—as well as Father Fred Monk of Mission Mexico—would be anxious. That led to today’s “adventure” to get to a place where there is phone service and Internet.

I was able to communicate with my wife and children, and with my sister (who tells me that Mom seems to be slowly recovering), and with Father Fred (who can cut back on his prayers for me now). Tomorrow I will head back to Tlapa; I hope I can get there.

The hurricane was an unexpected “welcome” to La Montaña. The flooding made me think of Calgary, High River, and other parts of southern Alberta that experienced such flooding recently. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that the people affected by this disaster here will get any government assistance in trying to put the pieces of their lives back together again. Most of these are people who were already struggling to make ends meet in their lives. However, the church and other generous people will do as much as possible to support these people. The struggle to be faithful to the gospel values will continue. Please pray for us in this endeavor.

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