Five hundred Mexican Red Cross volunteers are providing support to families impacted by Hurricane Patricia--a Category 5 storm--which made landfall in Mexico this weekend. The hurricane hit at record strength, but weakened as it moved inland. In Mexico, wind is no longer a threat, but heavy rains, river flooding, flash flooding, and mudslides are still a danger to those in the storm's path.
More than 50,000 people evacuated as the storm approached, which likely contributed to a lower death toll than expected. But families left behind homes and agricultural land, which were pounded by Hurricane Patricia's heavy wind and rains. Numerous bridges and roads have been washed out, there has been widespread damage to houses along the coast, utilities are down for a large swath of the impacted area, and mudslides continue to push through villages and roads.
Mexican Red Cross volunteers had pre-positioned 30 tons of relief supplies in preparation for the hurricane and assisted with community evacuations-- including evacuations of people with disabilities living in Jalisco. The Red Cross volunteers are currently supporting families in Tecoman, Armory and Manzanillo, in the state of Colima, and areas of Puerto Vallarta, Cihuatlan and Tomatlan, in the state of Jalisco.
The American Red Cross works closely with the Mexican Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid and assistance during large emergencies. Disaster specialists remain in close contact with colleagues at the Mexican Red Cross and are on standby to assist. As in all international disasters, the American Red Cross intervenes only when the national society (in this case, the Mexican Red Cross) requests outside help.
In the past, the American Red Cross has provided aid to families impacted by heavy storms and flooding in Mexico, such as the distribution of kitchen items, household cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene kits in the wake of Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid, which struck in September 2013. In response to Hurricane Odile—which made landfall in September 2014—the American Red Cross made a financial donation to aid survivors and helped reconnect families of US citizens who were stranded in Mexico. American Red Cross chapters supported the reception of flights with returning tourists in Texas and provided snacks, comfort items, mental health support and calls to reconnect families. Likewise, the Mexican Red Cross makes itself available to aid the American Red Cross during emergencies, which it did during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Individuals trying to get in touch with loved ones impacted by the storm should continue to attempt to contact their loved ones. The following advice may be helpful:
Individuals trying to get in touch with U.S. citizens who may have been in the storm’s path should get in touch with the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 (from the United States and Canada) or +1-202-501-4444 (from overseas) and http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/emergencies.html