Adventist Church in Mexico Assesses Damage After Powerful Hurricane

Category 5 storm Otis caused devastation to Acapulco and surrounding areas.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
Adventist Church in Mexico Assesses Damage After Powerful Hurricane
The 16 de Septiembre Adventist School was damaged after Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco, Guerrero, along Mexico’s Pacific coast, on October 25. [Photo: Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union]

Two days after Hurricane Otis caused devastating damage to Acapulco, Mexico, the Seventh-day Adventist Church delivered its first truck of food and basic supplies to assist the hundreds of members affected by the Category 5 storm. The storm claimed the lives of more than two dozen people and damaged and flooded building and homes.

Hurricane Otis, which struck on Oct. 25, 2023, is the strongest storm on record in the area, affecting more than 500,000 homes and businesses, authorities reported. Power is slowly being restored.

Abraham Sandoval, president of the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union, said he has been in communication with South Pacific Conference administrators who oversee the church in the states of Guerrero and Morelos. “Many of our church members have been hit hard, their homes damaged, and they are in great need of food and basic supplies for their families,” Sandoval said. No casualties among the membership have been reported.  There are more than 2,000 church members in the 30 congregations in Acapulco.

Pharmacies and grocery stores in Acapulco do not have enough medicines, food or supplies at the moment, so collecting food and essential items for the affected families began hours after the news of the storm broke, Sandoval said.

“All of the 11 fields comprising our union immediately began to send funds to assist the needs of the members, and local congregations began to collect food and essentials,” Sandoval said. The first truck with food arrived today at Central Adventist Church in Acapulco, which has been designated as the distribution command center. The church sustained minor damage, church leaders said.  Two blocks from the church is 16 de Septiembre Adventist School — a K-12 institution — which sustained damage to its roof and some classrooms. The school will remain closed until damage assessments are complete.

Navigating through the aftermath of the hurricane and assessing all the damages to members’ homes and churches will take some time, church leaders said. “Many of the families will not leave their homes and may need covers, mattresses and other home needs soon,” Sandoval said. “For now, we need to make sure our members are safe and have the basic needs. We continue to pray for them.” Two additional trucks full of food and supplies are scheduled to be delivered in Acapulco in the coming days.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Mexico mobilized its Emergency Response Team (ERT) and has been awaiting for official authorization as a nongovernmental organization to have access into Acapulco, ADRA Mexico director Ruben Ponce said.

ADRA International and ADRA Inter-America funds have kicked in to assist the affected families in Acapulco, and aid will begin as soon as the ERT completes its on-the-ground assessments, Ponce said. “We know that the damage in rural communities in the Acapulco district are widespread,” Ponce said. “As soon as we are given access, we will be able identify affected communities which will be selected to receive the first distribution of humanitarian aid.”

Ponce said ADRA Mexico was able to contact several volunteers in the most affected areas for initial general assessment.

“Acapulco’s airport is not operating, the main hospital was completely destroyed, and roads and bridges to the city are gravely affected, which make many communities inaccessible.” Ponce said. ADRA Mexico is ready to assist with prepaid cards to 430 families. They are also coordinating a health team in collaboration with UNICEF.

ADRA Mexico has also been promoting a fundraising campaign through its social media platforms to benefit the affected communities in Acapulco.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News