The people of Acapulco are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Otis, the Category 5 storm which hit the city of Acapulco in Mexico in late October.
The hurricane sustained winds of 260 kilometres per hour (km/h) with gusts of 315km/h causing severe damage to the city as well as Salvation Army facilities including the Acapulco Children’s Home. Children from the children’s home were evacuated to safe locations.
Fallen trees and damaged buildings had cut off essential services including electricity, major roads, drinking water and communications.
The Salvation Army’s Mexico Territory and International Emergency Services (IES) team at International Headquarters had been closely monitoring the situation and were able to act as soon as the storm hit.
It took the team more than 20 hours to reach the area from Mexico City because debris blocked some of the major road networks. When they arrived in Acapulco, they established an emergency canteen and an operations centre so that they could prepare and deliver food and water to locals who had been affected by the hurricane and to local first responders.
The emergency canteen has distributed more than 3,500 meals* since it opened. Additional support, including the possible provision of supermarket vouchers, is being explored.
IES Director, Damaris Frick, said, ‘The Salvation Army in Mexico was able to act quickly to support the community in the crisis, including helping to clear debris from roads and preparing and distributing food and water. I thank the Mexico Territory and international Salvation Army personnel who are working tirelessly to support everyone affected. Please pray for our officers and the people affected in the city of Acapulco.’
Major Reyes Cervantes, Divisional Commander, Capital Division, along with Divisional Emergency Coordinator, Captain Hiram Martinez, travelled to the city of Acapulco with nine officers, eight cadets (trainee officers) and 25 volunteers from Acapulco, Mexico City, Querétaro and Villahermosa. This team have been assisting in the efforts to clear debris from roads, provide meals for those who have been affected and assess how the community can rebuild damaged buildings and infrastructure.
The IES team, in conjunction with the Mexico Territory, have begun actioning short- and long-term response plans and are working closely with government bodies and local authorities.
IES Programme Officer, Captain Matthew Beatty and USA Eastern Territorial Emergency Disaster Services Director, Bobby Myers have arrived in Acapulco and are providing expert advice on the next steps of managing this crisis.
Territorial Commander, Colonel Ricardo Fernandez said, ‘We have been working with government bodies and the Mexican Navy in Acapulco to ensure that Salvation Army personnel can safely access the affected areas. I commend the efforts of our personnel on the ground working hard to support the emergency service workers and affected community members.’
*Figures correct 13 November 2023