After striking Mexico on August 20, 2007, again on August 21, and moving across the entire country, Hurricane Dean is no longer a tropical storm. The Yucatan Peninsula bore the brunt of the hurricane, which struck the eastern most part of the country as a Category 5 storm. Now, four days later, it has been reduced to a rain event with sustained winds of 35 km/h and gusts of 45 km/h, moving west, and causing clouds in south and central regions of the country.
The Health Situation
The principal symptoms being reported to date in the affected population are dermatologic and ophthalmologic in nature. National authorities have strengthened the disease surveillance system for the detection, management and control of cases, vector-borne outbreaks and health problems related to poor sanitary conditions in flooded areas.
Although there are reports of the impact on agriculture and damage to homes, there is still no report on damage to health infrastructure. Currently, the government is giving priority to ensuring that shelters are well stocked and equipped.
Health Services and Infrastructure
State of Tabasco
- The emergency committee has been actived to assess damage in the Municipality of Centla.
State of Campeche
- Three minor weather-related accidents have been reported.
- Only 28 consultations have been reported in shelters of Xcalot Akal, Hopelchen; Sabancuy, Carmen y Candelaria.
- In Ciudad del Carmen, the impact on health and damage to infrastructure are being evaluated.
- In the municipality of Campotón, no reports of damage to health and infrastructure.
- The stocks of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies is at 100%.
- Currently there is no potable water available. An assessment of wells in the area reveals a high level of nitrates. Three water treatment plants are being used to guarantee potability of water.
The State of Yucatán
Currently, there are 69 temporary housing 8,861 people. Reports of material damage are not yet available.
Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche: No loss of life, but 100,000 hectares of crops were damaged. Also domestic animals such as pigs and birds were lost. Significant damage to homes has also been reported. Mexico’s petroleum industry lost production of two million liters.
Veracruz: A disaster declaration was made for 57 municipalities; 300 homes destroyed and 27,000 people evacuated. There is significant damage to the agricultural sector and to livestock, although the financial cost of the damage has still not yet be tallied.
Puebla: One person dead. There was flooding in several municipalities resulting in the loss of homes. Losses were also registered in the agricultural and livestock sectors.
Hidalgo: Two people dead, 100,000 evacuated and several injuries reported. There have been floods in several parts of the state and precipitation continues. School activities were suspended. There is no electricity in several municipalities of the state.
Tampico, Tamaulipas: No major damage, although there were severe floods in several cities. In several municipalities damage to crops and to livestock was reported.
Mexico’s Response to Hurricane Dean
- The Secretary of Health coordinated with the Civil Protection System to support epidemiological surveillance in the temporary refuges.
- Health security meetings convened in Cancun, in which all health actors participated.
- The National Center of Epidemiological Surveillance and Disease Control sent staff and resources (four epidemiologists and 12 four-person health brigades) to coordinate operations in the affected states. The health brigades have medical kits to care for 1,000 persons. The brigades are also aiding in water chlorination, identification of patients with fever, prevention of acute diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections and in health education.
- The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) has sent technical brigades and equipment (pumping stations, potable water treatment plants, electric generators) to the states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, and Campeche to lend support to sanitation, potable water and infrastructure activities.
- The PAHO/WHO Office in Mexico has been constantly monitoring the situation through a situation room and daily meetings with technical staff.
- The PAHO/WHO Representative has participated in daily meetings with government agencies, coordinated by the Civil Protection and the Department of the Interior.
- A UN Emergency Team was set up and is on call.
- National and local authorities have been pleased to receive offers of cooperation, but at the same time have declared that up to now the country can defray the costs.