At least one million Mexicans have been affected by heavy rains flooding nearly the entire southern state of Tabasco.
Tens of thousands of people were trapped on rooftops while others clung to lampposts during the heavy rainfall last week. Over 500,000 people are homeless and 10 people have reportedly been killed in Tabasco's worst flooding in more than 50 years, according to The Associated Press.
"This massive number of stranded people can only be reached via boats or helicopter, and rescuing them will take time," informed Aldo Pontecorvo, World Vision's emergency response director in Mexico. "Meanwhile, children are at especially high risks of dengue, cholera, and mosquito-borne diseases."
Mexican president Felipe Calderon has called the natural disaster one of the worst in Mexico's history, according to Reuters.
"God help us – nothing like this has ever happened to us," said Francisca Almeida, according to Reuters. "I had to jump from a roof so they would be able to get to me," she said gripping a rope tied round a lamppost to keep her from being swept away.
Officials say Tabasco has lost all of its banana and other crops, and four-fifths of the state is under water.
The local Caritas aid agency is distributing essential aid such as food and water to the affected communities. Caritas Mexico is also carrying out an evaluation of the disaster to see what will be needed to support rehabilitation and reconstruction to help survivors.
"As the Church, we are inviting people to contribute to a national collection to show our solidarity as well as to unite in prayer with our brothers and sisters who have been affected," said Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, president of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico, in the Caritas report on Monday. "This financial support allows us to collaborate with our sister diocese in Tabasco so that they can bring aid to those most in need."
Tabasco is one of the poorest areas of Mexico, and the long-term rebuilding effort is expected to be a major operation, according to Caritas. Caritas Mexico has set up 14 centers in Mexico City to start collecting aid to help the people of Tabasco.
Meanwhile, World Vision plans to send some 40 metric tons of soap, shampoo, sanitary towels, sanitary paper rolls, powdered detergent, and liquid cleaner to the capital Villahermosa in Tabasco state as soon as roads are cleared and arrangements can be made.
"Hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded by the floods. Even after the floodwaters recede, they face risks of dengue, cholera and mosquito-borne diseases," said Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.
"We're praying for the immediate safety and long-term recovery of people affected by this disaster, including two communities with more than 4,000 children sponsored by World Vision donors in Canada," said Stearns.
Convoy of Hope, the compassion ministry affiliated with the Assemblies of God, is also preparing to respond to the massive flooding.