ShelterBox has been working with local groups to help people create safe shelters and rebuild their homes following Hurricane Odile.
In September, Hurricane Odile, described as the most intense tropical cyclone to hit in 60 years, made landfall on the Baja California Peninsula on the west coast of Mexico.
As the hurricane was not expected to hit land, little warning was given and it inflicted widespread damage. In the state of Baja California Sur, the popular tourist area Cabo San Lucas suffered winds of 125 miles per hour.
While more than 26,000 tourists were evacuated from the area, the locals were left to deal with the devastation.
Following the disaster, ShelterBox received a request from a local Rotary group to assist 400 families in the state capital of La Paz, so ShelterBox response volunteers Derek Locke (US) and Yi Shun Lai (US) were sent out to assess whether any shelter-based aid was needed.
When the team arrived, they found that the affected families in La Paz and the surrounding area were being supported by the government, but that the municipality of Los Cabos had sustained a great deal of damage.
The teams developed relationships with local Rotary groups and a local church initiative called Feeding Los Cabos Kids and decided that shelter repair kits would be of most use to help families affected by the hurricane, as there was no space for tents and people didn’t want to relocate and be far away while trying to rebuild their homes.
They identified several communities built on the fringe of the city of Cabo San Lucas, which were prone to flooding, whose houses had blown away during the hurricane and possessions had been washed away by the subsequent floods.
Following the work of Derek and Yi Shun, another team made up of Robert Partridge (NZ) and Jan Larsson (SE) headed to Mexico to distribute the Shelter repair kits.
When they arrived, they worked with the dedicated members of Feeding Los Cabos Kids and the Cabo San Lucas del Mar Rotary club to distribute the shelter repair kits and show people how they can be used.
The team found that people were pleased to see how useful the kits can be, such as recipient Dulce Maria Diaz, who lives with her husband and two children.
Her husband works six days a week, but still doesn’t have enough money for new building materials or enough time after working to make the necessary repairs. She explained that while they have been able to collect sheet metal to use as a roof, it is not watertight and will not be enough protection during the rainy season, which starts in December.
The contents of the shelter repair kit will not only help her and her husband to line the roof with a tarpaulin and make it waterproof, but the family will also be able to make a sunshade with the second tarpaulin and create a place where the children are able to play away from the extreme heat of the sun.
Tony Hernadez, from Feeding Los Cabos Kids, said: ‘Many families had lost hope after the disaster. With their homes destroyed and no way to rebuild, this was just too much for them.
‘When we were able to give a small amount of support, it helped to encourage people and I believe that the shelter repair kits will create a turning point for many families that still haven’t been able to start rebuilding their homes or even decent emergency shelters.’
The team distributed 270 shelter repair kits while the Rotary Club of Cabo San Lucas del Mar is in the process of issuing a further 80 to communities in the area.
While working with the Rotary Club and Feeding Los Cabos Kids, the team found that these communities would benefit from SchoolBoxes as they recover from Hurricane Odile. ShelterBox is now in the process of sending 18 SchoolBoxes to Mexico to help children get back to normality and to improve their quality of life in the future.
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