The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Mexico recently distributed dozens of pumps, hoses, and large water tanks to 165 families severely affected by the forest fires in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in March 2021. The initiative was part of a project that sought to assist families that lost water service in their homes in the Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states.
ADRA Mexico officials and volunteers went house-to-house assessing damage and needs in the area while providing water and care packages to emergency responders fighting forest fires burning over 18,000 acres of mountainous terrain.
“There are approximately 2,000 people who live in the affected areas, so we spent weeks assessing and reaching the most vulnerable families and found out that most had their water service interrupted, so we moved as quickly as we could to provide supplies to assist them in restoring it,” Ruben Ponce, ADRA Mexico finance director, said. “Some families needed water tanks, and many needed water hoses.” Volunteers distributed 80 450-liter (120-gallon) water tanks, 40 water pumps, and 350 50-meter (54-yard) hoses on May 8 and 9, 2021.
Many families had never had access to water within their home, Ponce said. “It’s such a marginalized area that many are now able to have running water for the first time,” he added.
“I saw so many smiling and others in tears when they received what was promised many weeks before, all at no cost to them,” Jairo Sánchez, ADRA volunteer, said after helping coordinate part of the emergency response team in the communities. “There were many who had to walk two hours to have the pumps and supplies delivered to their home,” Sánchez added.
Mayra Briones, a resident of Nuevo Leon, received a water tank. “Thank you for the support and the resources that you have brought us as we face this natural catastrophe here,” Briones said. “You are making a difference in the lives of so many with all that you are giving us. I honestly don’t have enough words to express how grateful I am for your support.”
The efforts took coordination from federal, state, and municipal authorities during the assessment of the needs of each household affected and families that received assistance from ADRA.
“We were delighted to benefit 100 percent of the homes affected,” Ponce added.
So far, ADRA has identified four additional families that do not have any wells or rivers nearby to find a solution to have water. “We found that there are many elderly persons, many who are blind or disabled, who only get water from the kindness of their neighbors, so we want to work on helping them and assess more of their needs with the municipal leaders,” Ponce explained.
In many ways, the forest fire shed light on the needs of the low-income families who live in precarious conditions in the mountainous region, Ponce said. ADRA leaders from the northeastern and Montana church regions continue to visit the area every weekend to survey additional needs to help families have accessible water and other pressing needs.
Jairo Sanchez contributed to this report.