A recent storm, developing off the coast of Mexico, was supposed to go west and generate waves for the Hurley Pro at Trestles. It didn't. Instead, on September 14 Hurricane Odile struck the tip of the Baja peninsula as a Category 3 storm.
With wind speeds exceeding 125 mph, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo sustained a direct hit, causing massive destruction throughout the region, leaving a quarter million people without electricity. Thankfully, thus far no fatalities have been reported. Another result of the storm is that the normal municipal delivery of safe water has been severely interrupted for many area residents. Waves For Water is organizing an emergency response to this ongoing disaster. We are currently mobilizing a team to help in the hardest hit areas.
In a natural disaster, the locals are the real 'first responders'. Initial steps will include establishing a safe field base and developing local networks throughout the region. We will get filters & buckets to local teams and they will get them to the people in need.
Anyone moved to join our effort can donate filters to this cause. All of your support is greatly appreciated.
At this point in the W4W timeline, we are no strangers to disasters… I say that with mixed emotions. On one hand we have a wealth of experience that we can apply to these very grave situations when they suddenly pop up… yet we only have this experience because they keep popping up… and very much at the expense of so much intense hardship. It’s a sort of a conundrum…
That said, here we are again - Hurricane Odile has absolutely devastated our beloved neighbors in Baja Sur, Mexico. It’s relatively out of the news already (was barely in it), which is unfortunate and uncharacteristic for an event with such catastrophic damage. Much of the southern Baja peninsula has suffered a huge blow - power out, food and water shortages, endless structural damage, and many roads washed out (limiting the abilities of emergency authorities to respond). It’s a perfect storm (no pun intended)… Most places we have worked for disaster relief usually have a similar scenario… but each place has it’s own unique challenges to navigate. In this case, being that Baja is such a narrow peninsula and so many of the main North/South arteries have been washed out, the souther tip (Cabo, etc) has been virtually cut off. It’s almost like an island. There are reports of looting and unrest - again also a common byproduct during these times, yet unsettling all the same. There are shelters popping up for all the displaced families and travelers… but most of which are filled with the low income, underserved, local population in the area - as their neighborhoods were the least built up and able to endure such destructive weather.
I’ve said this before, but many of the places around the world these disasters happen are already in need of our clean water program prior to any disastrous event. Their everyday conditions are “disastrous”… and many times it is events like this that put enough focus and resources on these long standing issues that we are finally able to initiate programs. This might come as a surprise, but Baja Sur is no different…. even despite all the big hotels and affluent tourism community, there is still a severe underbelly to the region with conditions as bad as any of the other underserved places we work. So again, we find ourselves in unique place with an opportunity to serve an immediate purpose - mitigating initial suffering cause by this event… yet also… and this is a BIG also, starting to implement some long term programs there that will help the overall landscape for years to come. We experienced this same scenario in Haiti and more recently the Philippines (after Typhoon Haiyan). Both places we still work consistently to this day, years after our initial disaster response efforts.
So, we have begun mobilizing our Hurricane Odile response effort. Phase 1 will be almost entirely focused around providing access to clean water for the hardest hit areas. This means targeting the shelters servicing displaced families and other refugee-like individuals. We will also be focused on neighborhoods that are still standing but have lost any/all remnants of infrastructure - no water, no power etc. These people are often the most in need, as the folks who lost everything are getting some small amounts of support through the shelters - but the ones who might still have a rickety home standing are left to fend for themselves and often slip thru the cracks of all support services.
We have good local leads already, both in resources we will need (transportation, manpower, staging areas, etc) and in targeted intel from the hardest hit areas. Now it just becomes a process of matching the two together - using/applying what resources we have to address the greatest pockets of need. The biggest issue in terms of water is that any of the usual municipal sources have been wiped out and/or contaminated… and anyone who has been there before can attest to the lack of ground water they have in the region. This means that people are solely dependent on bottled water - which will run out sooner than later. Our initial efforts will involve deploying portable water filtrations systems that can take virtually any source of water and make it potable - for families, tourists, and relief teams alike.
Our initial ground staff is deploying in the next day or so as our strategies continue to develop and button up with every passing hour.
I have never been one to solicit donations so I’m not going to start… look at this update as a source of real time information on a situation that is incredibly bad (and going to get much worse) in a place that many of us hold close to our hearts.
That said, if you do feel inclined to help support our Odile relief initiative then we genuinely thank you… our web-page for this project is - http://www.wavesforwater.org/project/odile. You can also stay tuned to this page for progress updates throughout the implementation of the project.
All other inquiries can be sent to our team leader on this first phase - Catherine Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Most of you who are receiving this have been long time friends and supporters of W4W and I want to take this opportunity to say that we would never be in the position to be able to make such a difference during situations like this if it weren’t for the tireless encouragement you have shown us over the years…
On behalf of the entire W4W team, thank you!
As the Hurricane Odile relief effort in Baja Sur continues, W4W would to share some of the more recent media coverage the initiative has received. While the impacts of the storm quickly fell out of the news cycle, we're grateful for those that have spent the time covering this important humanitarian issue.
W4W Odile Update - October 5, 2014
The way the government has responded in comparison to USand Sandy is beyond phenomenal. The day we arrived power linesin streets, no electrical, military patrols ... read more
W4W Odile Update - October 5, 2014
The way the government has responded in comparison to USand Sandy is beyond phenomenal. The day we arrived power linesin streets, no electrical, military patrols with sub machine guns,curfews in effect, streets strewn with debris, local colonias barricadedlines for food and water no services or stores. 2 weeks later the areasthat hospitality exists are pretty clean and the colonias are being servicedwith power albeit slowly. The Marines, Federales, and Army are all stationed at the Wyndham. The hotel consistsof two buildings and one is totally occupied by military. Have not seen or had any issues excepttwo expats acting like drunks fighting on the malecon in front of hotel andthe federales were there in minutes. The military is still patrolling most colonias starting at dusk and at lesser intervals during the day.
In general is has been a phenomonenal week in terms of response to Odile and long term partnerships. We aredeveloping excellent in country contacts and resources that will allow us to have a long term sustainableprogram that continues to build capacity and allows the in country partners who know where and what the need is to facilitate. Having the Baja Health Dept and the Federal health department endorse and approve is huge. I am also heartened by the local businesses and hospitality industry that have the integral desire to care for and facilitate clean water systems for their extended worker staff and families. Every hotel I have met with so far has fundraisers in place to get their staff what they need to obtain some sort of normalcy, be it water, roof,clothes, food etc. As I look around and see the enormity of damage here to hotels I wonder when and how theseworkers will have steady income again.
One thing that stands out at every demo/implementation is the light that appears when they understand they will no longer have to pay for water. I feel blessed and fortunate to be of service to these wonderful people. Greg Edwards of Mobilize Mankind and Los Cabos Children Fund has been so important and critical in making many of these contacts. Amazingman. Wayne Bisbee will be here on October 13th and has asked that I stay until the 15th so he may introduce me to some of the guests of Tournament that starts on the 17th. Bisbee will provide W4W with a small tent for our information and demo model for possible donations and Janet Jensen will make sure it is staffed and is making a banner that is solely W4WHurricane Odile Relief Initiative. The core W4W teams that Quinn Campbell was so integral in creating have been beyond amazing and continue to connect us with those who are aligned similarly.
This response has a magical life of its own and I see it every day in those I am surrounded by here and afar.