Disaster Anticipation and Readiness

2010 Freda Rumford Living in Mexico May 2010

By Freda Rumford from the May 2010 Edition

A few years ago, there was an article in this local newspaper that filled me with dread. It was a report from a meteorological office in the United States, which said if there was a natural disaster in Mexico, the country would be totally unable to cope.

Captain David Sanchez Nogales, has trained his band of experts, many of whom are volunteers, in all aspects of emergency action applicable to coastal towns. The Civil Defense office, now next to the Red Cross building in Las Garzas is equipped with CB radios, telephones, computers, and two very large planning charts plus all emergency equipment.

One chart in the office, shows the coastline of Mexico where is recorded the path of storms from their onset and the varying changes in force as they progress northwards towards Manzanillo. Charts such as this enable David Sanchez & meteorologists to determine exactly where we are in relation to any storm and which part of that storm will affect the town & surrounding areas the most. Fortunately, local history shows that the majority of storms and hurricanes veer westward into the ocean away from land, or blow themselves out before they reach the Baja Peninsular.

The other chart is a very detailed map of Manzanillo divided into five areas, the head offices of each are: 1 Civil Defense building, 2 Police stations and 2 schools, each with attached lists of all facilities within those areas. Each office has a chief in charge of operations and aides (who advise the public of the situation at hand), along with other local emergency stations, also noted, are the specific spots that could be cause for the greatest concern in any particular emergency condition, such as river flooding, wave surges & tsunamis or hurricanes. Should there be a problem with waves, for instance, the escape routes to the high lands surrounding the city are already charted and individuals affected will be directed there by the local advising committee using either public transport or their own private vehicle.

Although the constant task force is small, Captain Sanchez has the authority to summon any extra help that he may require in any given situation. The Navy, Military, Red Cross, Hospitals & Clinics with their staff, local transport and the Police all come under his command and all have suitable training. Civilians could also be asked to help in certain situations if they are able bodied and the emergency warrants it.

This is an extremely slick operation and the capability of Captain Sanchez is very obvious. I left his office feeling suitably impressed and much safer. Like all operations in Mexico, the “Proteccion Civil ” is under funded and has a wish list. Their wish is for camp cots, stretchers and a mini van that could double as an ambulance. With all of the down sizing and closing of military posts in Canada and the US, surely there must be some extra beds somewhere. Please?

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