Thursday, September 2, 2010

Agatha's Wrath

I am not sure where to begin with pictures from this trip or how to go about writing all that I think is important for people to know. I could do one LONG post, but maybe shorter ones with one topic each are better.

One of the main reasons for this trip was to help make repairs on homes damaged by Tropical Storm Agatha and begin working on other home repairs. We have always known the overall condition of homes in Pueblo Nuevo, but this trip involved a lot of close inspection and time on my hands and knees peering into dark corners which also meant coming face to face with what appears to be a rodent infestation (mice. were. EVERYWHERE! this time.)

We already knew that Carmen had the most damage from Agatha. Her home is divided into two separate rooms. One small room is the family bedroom that includes three mattresses, a dresser and their clothes. The other is their kitchen, where Carmen cooks and where they have a very old table and a couple of worn out chairs. I was told that so much land had been washed away from her property that her kitchen was beginning to slide down the mountain. They were trying to keep it up with sandbags, but it was steadily continuing to slide.

I wrote about Carmen right after our last trip. I do not want any of our families to go through more difficult times than they already face every day, but when I heard that Carmen's home was the most damaged, I was crushed for her. I cannot imagine looking every day at my home, knowing that it may be the last day it is standing and having no way to fix it or rebuild it when it falls. So of course the first place I had to go in Pueblo Nuevo, the first person I had to see was Carmen.

It was true. Her kitchen is literally sliding down the mountain. Just standing in her kitchen made me uncomfortable because it could slide at any time (and because mice were running around everywhere). At this point, I am praying every day that it makes it through each day of this very rainy rainy season. Each rain causes more land to slide away from it. They continue to add more sandbags, but they are not going to be able to hold it up much longer.

There is no way to repair her kitchen. No reinforcement is strong enough to hold it on such a steep angle. A new kitchen has to be built further down on her property where it is flatter. AAB is providing the materials needed for rebuilding. Her husband along with other men from the church will do the construction. Unfortunately, because of the rain, construction cannot begin yet. Once rainy season is over (in October), they will prepare the land by flattening it more, and we will provide all of the materials so that she will have a strongly reinforced new kitchen in December.
Another problem caused by Agatha and the mudslides that it produced is flooding. So much packed dirt has been washed away from homes. This dirt once filled in large gaps at the bottom of homes. When it washed away, huge open holes were left and the homes in this part of Pueblo Nuevo are being flooded every time it rains which is pretty much every day now.

Carmen's house is one of those that is flooding. Every. Day.

Several houses, including Carmen's, are being repaired. AAB provided the materials and the men in the community are working with large amounts of cement to create a longer lasting solution than more packed dirt would provide.

I have so many pictures of damage that I could post and so many stories of individual families. In the end, I simply do not have time to post them all because even homes that were not damaged by Agatha are still in need of major repairs just to be considered safe enough to live in. Over the next few days I will post some of the more extreme stories.

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