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Hurricane Pauline

October 8, 1997

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Tropical storm Olaf hit the Oaxacan coast 9/28/97 bringing heavy rains and landslides. Ports were closed in Acapulco, Puerto Escondido, Huatulco and Puerto Angel.

Hurricane Pauline made landfall on the Oaxacan coast at Puerto Angel on 10/8/97. This was a category 4 hurricane with winds at 180 mph. Damage was extensive including downed power lines, trees, washed out roads, broken windows, roofs, mudslides and water damage. In Huatulco there was some beach erosion, downed trees and broken windows. Roofs were removed from most homes in Puerto Angel and many windows broken. Zipolite was wiped out. [photos] This included Piña Palmera and the homes of all of its employees. There has been a great deal of support and plans are underway to rebuild the center. There were no deaths in Zipolite; many businesses have reopened and they are eager for visitors.

Javier Vasconcelos Perez, director of the Turtle Center in Mazunte reports a setback in their efforts to bolster endangered turtle populations due to loss of nests. The roof of the turtle center was destroyed and some turtles were killed by falling tiles. The Mexican Red Cross has responded well to needs in the area. There has been more Pacific hurricane activity than usual this year which may be attributed to El Niño. This included the strongest hurricane on record, Hurricane Linda with 200 mph winds, which fortunately expired without making landfall. Hurricane Rick made landfall on the western Oaxacan coast, just west of Puerto Escondido on the evening of 11/9/97 and moved east northeast. This hurricane was not nearly as strong as Pauline. Landfall was just west of Puerto Escondido with movement to the east along the coast. Heavy rainfall resulted in more damage to washed out areas of roadway that had been temporarily repaired after Pauline.

A fund has been set up to help the communities recover: Fideicomiso Amigos de Oaxaca of Banamex. The account number is Cuenta #2002.

Carrizalillo and Bacocho areas of Puerto Escondido

I stood aghast, looking over Bacocho. It was hard to believe that several units of the hotel Fiesta Mexicana had fallen over the cliff and had crumbled down the barranca. My husband on foot is much faster than I, and he called me over to look farther down. The sewage pipe that had discretely emptied sewage waters (without treatment) into the ocean had split.

Puerto Escondido ran its sewage into the ocean back thirty years ago when we first stumbled upon the small town of 800 people. A few years ago when the town put in a sewage treatment plant for the main beach area, it was way too small. Now, several sewage drains have been emptying unnoticed into the Bacocho area, and this small town has surged in population to near to 50,000. That's a lot of you know what emptying directly into the ocean.

When the second hurricane hit, the barrancas all around Puerto Escondido suffered severe damage. You have only to swim out in any of the bays and look up the hill. There are many raw cuts to gaping gashes, devoid of vegetation from the tremendous force of the gathering waters surging out to sea.

In the area of Carrizalillo, palm trees that we planted thirty years ago were swept down the 50 degree barranca. It is now a 90 degree drop.

Because the government of the town is under siege from the next town over, there is no one to complain to (about the black waters) with any authority. Oaxaca state holds its election next year and at that time Puerto Escondido may only have one "presidente" of the town, instead of the two who are arguing over the position. It is such a mess that people are being advised to not pay their property taxes until the issue is settled, because both municipalities want the taxes.

Sure would like to know who to contact about the raw sewage. It would be nice to save the sea life while it still might be possible.

February 1998

Poor Road Conditions in Mountains

The road trip between Acapulco and Pinotepa Nacional appears to be unaffected by the storms. It took us an easy 4 hours. From P.N. to Oaxaca was a different story . We averaged 35 km/h for the first four hours. Every bridge was out and there were many diversions through now dry riverbeds and at least two crossings through flowing streams. Once the Sierra Madres had been summited, the roads were fine and it took us a total of 7.5 hours driving time. The trip from Oaxaca to Puerto Angel was much worse. The road was in terrible condition and we would recommend looking into the Hwy 190 route. Not only were the bridges out but large sections of the road had been washed away along precipitous parts of the journey and driving was somewhat unnerving. We got caught behind a bus which had a lot of trouble negotiating tight corners. The coast roads were all fine but I definitely would not recommend trying either route to Oaxaca at night.

Stan and Jackie
January 17, 1998

The Shambhala Vision

Volume 5, Issue 1 December 1997

Shambhala devastated by two hurricanes

Shambhala was severely damaged by two hurricanes this fall. Hurricane Pauline, scored a direct hit on Shambhala and Playa Zipolite in the early afternoon of October 8. This was a Category Five Hurricane with winds of up to two hundred miles per hour. Many of the structures at Shambhala were destroyed during the four hours that Pauline was upon Zipolite.

Almost exactly a month later, on November 9, Shambhala was struck by Hurricane Rick. Although Rick was only a Category Three Hurricane and packed winds with half the force of Pauline, it was still a considerable setback to the rebuilding efforts at Shambhala. Most of the staff and visitors at Shambhala rode out the perils of Pauline in the electrical control room, a cement room built into the hillside inside the restaurant kitchen. Gloria, Manuel, Carmelita, Jospehina and her newborn baby as well as Shaman the dog almost sailed away in Gloria's house during Pauline. Manuel was trapped in the shower on Gloria's front terrace as the others spent hours struggling to hold the roof of the house down as Pauline tried to tear it away. If the roof had failed they would have been sucked out into the two hundred mile per hour whirlpool of flying rocks, tree branches and other loose debris. Shambhala and Zipolite were completely cut off from the rest of the world after Hurricane Pauline. Luckily, there were no deaths in the area. All of the roads and trails were blocked by mudslides and debris for several days. The President of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, surveyed the damage in Zipolite from his black presidential helicopter before giving a speech in Puerto Angel. Rebuilding has been a long and arduous process for the coast of Oaxaca.

Shambhala reopens and readies for holidays
Gloria announces that show will go on New Year's Eve

Gloria Hope Johnson, owner of Shambhala Restaurant and Inn, has announced that this year's New Year's Eve celebration will take place as planned. The restaurant has reopened and is serving the full menu. The office and the rooms next to the office have been repaired. There are also two rooms that have been repaired on the hillside. There is a large hammock terrace above the office and a large terrace with newly installed hanging beds and hammock spaces on the hillside above the bathrooms. The showers and bathrooms have all been repaired. On the beachfront, Bar La Nata has rebuilt and is open and serving. Two cabanas have been repaired on the beachfront and a third is being repaired. Gloria advises visitors to Shambhala to either bring a tent or plan to sleep in a hanging bed or a hammock as the waiting list for rooms and cabanas will be long until rebuilding is done. The Meditation Point has been cleaned up and some of the structures have survived. They will be repaired in time for the New Year's Eve celebration.

Mercedes Benz motorcoach service from Oaxaca to Pochutla via Salina Cruz is offered daily by Cristobal Colon. This highway is in excellent shape. Cristobal Colon also offers two daily departures from Mexico City for Pochutla, with service from both the Tasquena/Sur Terminal the TAPO Terminal. Second class service is also available from Acapulco via Pinotepa Nacional and Oaxaca via Miahuatlan, but these roads are badly damaged by the hurricanes.

Shambhala needs your help. . .

The damage wrought upon Shambhala by Hurricane Pauline and Hurricane Rick was severe. In the two months since the hurricanes there have been very few visitors at Shambhala. Shambhala needs your help in order to repair the damage caused by these two natural disasters. If you have enjoyed the atmosphere of Shambhala in the past and feel a connection to Shambhala and to other people who visit, meditate, play and transform here, now is the time to help.

Here's how it works. Instead of stashing your cash until your next trip to Shambhala, make an advance payment as soon as possible. You will be mailed an advance payment certificate good for future lodging and food at Shambhala. There are two ways to make an advance payment. The quickest and easiest way is to wire your money via Western Union. First call Western Union at 1-800-225-5227 or 1-800-325-6000. You can send money using your credit card over the telephone. If you don't have a credit card, call Western Union to find the location of the nearest office that accepts cash for money transfers.

Instruct Western Union to send the money to:

Gloria Hope Johnson
In Care of the Western Union Office at the Mega Elektra in Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Send a telegram along with your money with your name and address and the amount of the advance payment you would like to make. At the top of your telegram, instruct the Western Union office in Spanish to deliver the telegram to:

Gloria Hope Johnson
Apdo. Postal 68
Pochutla, Oaxaca
C.P. 70900

You may also mail a check or money order to the above address but this method is slower and less reliable. With your help, Shambhala will be able to rebuild quickly. Thank you very much for your advance payment. The Shambhala Family looks forward to seeing you soon.


I left Mazunte on Tuesday, Nov. 25th, having been there since the 8th...so survived Rick, that happened on the evening of the 9th. When I arrived an amazing amount of clean-up work had been done in all of the nearby communities (Pto. Angel, Zipolite, San Augustenillo and Mazunte). All of the mud had been removed from the roads, people had received new roofing material and support lumber for their homes, and the beaches had been cleaned.

Tony and I were staying in Jerry and Marilyn Gainer's house on the beach at Playa Rincón in Mazunte, next to Hubert's place. The morning of Nov 9th we were told that Rick was coming and to be prepared by noon, three hours away. We secured our window shutters and went over to San Augustinillo to warn Tom and Maureen (from Alberta). They were tenting at Dominga's on the beach. While there, the army arrived to warn everyone...so this time there was lots of warning. Tom and Maureen moved into Gainer's place with us and we spent the afternoon playing cards, singing and generally whiled away the entire afternoon and evening waiting for Rick. During that time we still had power and were able to tune into the Pochutla radio station, for minute by minute updates of Rick. Part of the warning broadcast was in Zapotec for the people in the outlying villages that did not speak Spanish. By early evening it was raining very hard and small gusts of wind came and went . . the power also went. We were well stocked with candles so with the windows all boarded up and the door closed at least we were able to have some light.

At approx. 9PM Rick arrived. The sound was terrifying. Also, we could no longer hear the waves crashing on the beach because the wind was so loud. Good thing no one was claustrophobic. Rick huffed and puffed and tried to blow our house down just like the big bad wolf. Tom and Maureen headed up to the loft to sleep but were soon downstairs again, sleeping on mats under the table. Some of the roof had blown away and the wind upstairs was terrible. So we closed the loft hatch and feeling the drops of rain coming through the ceiling, we all slept for awhile. In retrospect, it seems strange that we were able to sleep, but we had all accepted the reality of Rick and knew that there was nothing we could do about it. We didn't even know at that point if we had a roof or not. A few hours later, it was all over. We all headed outside to see what had happened and also to find out whether or not the ocean was still 100 yards away where it belonged. Small bit of damage to the roof, a bit more of the adobe stucco gone, palm fronds everywhere, huge waves pounding the beach and sending water right up to where the small rock wall used to be. All of the liter on the beach, that had been raked up after Pauline, that had not yet been burned was again strewn about everywhere. Generally, not too much further damage suffered by anyone in that small community.

The main road through Mazunte and San Augustinillo were again covered in mud and the remaining potholes got a lot bigger but the road was still passable. The new roofing material in most people's yards was damaged and roofs that had been partially repaired would have to be redone. The turtle museum had been covered with huge tarps, so no further damage occurred.

Two weeks later: Mazunte and San Aug. have never looked so clean. All the mud has been removed from the road and the curbs and palm trees have been painted white. Huge work crews of locals in both communities have been working everyday from sunup to sundown. The local garbage truck is constantly being filled with the debris of both Hurricanes and also years and years worth of garbage. San Aug. even has a sidewalk on one side of the road now. People have begun to rebuild their homes with all of the new roofing material and lumber that was delivered by the truck load for several days (18 wheeler trucks, not the local pickups!) The dirt road to Rincón Beach has been widened and leveled. I spent Monday of this week painting the bottom of the palm trees at Rincón. Yes, there is still work to be done, but the last two weeks were amazing.

Helen McNamara (formerly Howard)
Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada

November 29, 1997

Mazunte Update

Hi, Tom. Had a couple of letters from Hubert in Mazunte over the past several days. Things are still pretty much knocked out, but electricity has been restored. Many homes have been destroyed and there's a shortage of palm fronds for roofing. The government has been trucking in fronds...something we would never even think of here! The army has also brought in food and medical supplies for distribution, and Hubert and another American living in the village have been able to help with getting the stuff handed out. The road to Oaxaca was still out as of a couple of weeks ago, so one has to detour to Salina Cruz, then to Oaxaca, adding at least two hours to the trip.

Sounds as if things are on the mend, but it will take a long time to get back to normal. Zipolite was virtually wiped off the map as many of the homes were no more than grass huts on the beach. No word on Pto Angel itself, but the central market in Pochutla has a collapsed roof and is out of business for the most part.

I'll send along other info as I receive it. Nothing yet about the second and less serious storm as mail is taking several weeks to get here.

Bill Brecheen

November 19, 1997

Necesitamos Visitantes

Estimados amigos,

Gracias por sus mensajes y donaciones. Las necesidades son muchas todavia. Ya hemos pasado por dos hurracanes aunque el segundo no era tan intenso como el primero pero tambien hizo mucho daño. No hubo muertos pero la gente se desanimo mucho. Todos lo recien compuesto se rompio otra vez. El mar subio hasta la casa de Lino (restaurante Lola) y mojo todos sus cuartos. Ellos se refugiarion en un albergue. Ahora ya han regresado a su casa y estan limpiando y secando todo. Tia Maria y su familia estan bien. Luis Prado y su esposa, como muchos mas, estan tristes porque sus techos se volvieron a destruir otra vez. La familia Salinas (tio Chano, Juana y Ana Laura) estan bien. Algunas de sus casitas se volvieron a caer con el segundo huracan. El restaurante de Felipa sufrio muchisimos daños, realmente ya no existe. Lo Cosmico tambien tuvieron muchos perdidas, especialmente sus cabañas. Estan trabajando para reabrir su restaurante en Diciembre.

Zipolite necesita visitantes. Todos estan trabajando duro para volver a abrir sus restaurantes y los cuartos. Ya esta funcionando el disco La Puesta y la posada San Cristobal. Tres de Diciembre estan haciendo pizzas y tienen una cabana para rentar. Geminis estan haciendo pizzas para llevar nada mas. La Choza va a abrir pronto.

Todo esta funcionando en Pochutla; los bancos, las tiendas, los taxis, los micros, los correos y el mercado. Las carreteras se encuentran en muy mal estado pero ya hay paso a Pto Escondido y a Salina Cruz otra vez. Hotel Soraya, Villa Florencia y Hotel Puesta del Sol en Puerto Angel estan funcionando normalmente.

Si vienen a visitar esta area es importante traer sombrero, mosquiteros (pabellon), sleeping, sabanas y lampara de mano. Es bueno traer tiendas de campana porque no hay muchos cuartos para rentar.

Casi toda la gente en Zipolite y Mazunte depende de sus visitantes y ahora todos necesitan gente con mucho animo y ganas de ayudar para apoyar en la limpieza y en la reconstruccion de toda la zona. Se necesita especialmente albañiles, electricistas y mecanicos. Personas que saben dar masajes o curar en otras formas tambien hace mucha falta. Tambien necesitamos personas capacitados en horticultura que sepan hacer huertos familiares y compostas.

Si quieres obtener mas informacion acerca de esta area puedes consultar: Web page: The Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico: http://www.eden.com/~tomzap/index.html

Si quieres saber mas acerca de Piña Palmera puedes buscar en: http://palmera.webway.se o en http://www.laneta.apc.org./pina/

Saludos de
Anna Johansson de Cano
13 Noviembre, 1997

Tambien pueden escribir a Kali Lopez de La Posada Canon de Vata en Puerto Angel: lopezk@spin.com.mx o a Hector Marcheli de Ecosolar (Mazunte) ecosolar@laneta.apc.org para obtener mas informacion.

Hurricane Rick & Pauline in Puerto Escondido

We just left PE on Sunday, 11/9. Although there are signs that there had been a recent hurricane (Pauline, that is) we found everything to be operating or with repairs well underway. I noticed that several of the beachfront businesses on Playa Marinero were not open and don't look like they are even being worked on, and even the Santa Fe looks pretty battered. All over, workers were busily rethatching palapas, but for the most part PE looked unscathed.

In fact, the longest lasting impact of the storm in PE may be the cancellation of a lot of booked vacations. There is an obvious dearth of tourist business and the news of Hurricane Rick will probably not help the situation. We had our pick of rooms, tables and beach space everywhere we went.

At Flor de Maria, where we stayed, the rooftop bar and pool area were being fixed up when Hurricane Rick struck Sunday afternoon. We flew to Oaxaca Sunday morning on AeroVega and had no problems, but when I called down to the hotel Sunday night, Maria said that all later flights were cancelled and that they were waiting out Hurricane Rick in the dark. We had received no notice that a serious storm was even imminent!

I talked with Maria again on Monday and she said that the damage was not too bad, they were just mopping up all the water. All services had been restored by that time. Hope that was the last of this wicked hurricane season for Mexico! My friends who waited out the storm in PE will be home tonight with their account, which I will send you.

Tom Achor
Portland, Oregon
November 13, 1997

Neither Robin nor Juanita were available but I did talk with the reservations clerk at the Santa Fe. I didn't get his name but he recognized mine before checking the reservations book, so he's one of the folks we know.

"Everything is normal," he said. "We had very little damage. Everything in Escondido is normal this morning, power, telephone. It is nothing like Paulina a few weeks ago."

Brian J. Larkin
Washington, DC

November 10, 1997

Hurricane Rick

Hurricane Rick made landfall on the western Oaxacan coast, just west of Puerto Escondido moving east northeast on the evening of 11/9. This hurricane does not appear to have the strength that Pauline had; the satellite photo does not show that an eye has formed. However the rains from this one will likely complicate travel on the coastal highway and other roads where temporary repairs were made by filling in washed out areas with dirt. There have been isolated power outages and loss of telephone service.

Tom Penick

November 10, 1997

First Pauline, Now Rick

Well, another hurricane passed over the Palmgrove last night. (#2 on the hurricane-scale, Pauline was #5.) Everything was already so destroyed by Pauline so this didn't do too much damage. We were told by local authorities yesterday to prepare ourselves, so all day we packed things (whatever there was left from last hurricane) in plastic bags and put it up high to avoid the flood. (Fortunately the Palmgrove did not flood again. The river ran out in the ocean.)

After packing we had a big meeting where we decided where everyone were to spend the night. All the disabled children went to Adalberto's house that since last hurricane proved itself to be a safe place. All the others decided to stay in "casa nueva" because even if we were going to be flooded again we now know that if we wait, the water-level will sink as soon as the "barra" opens. (The barra is the sand from the beach that builds up and closes the river's opening to the ocean.) Everybody is fine. Although I thought that this hurricane was scary (the noise is terrifying) others, that went through Pauline, said that this was less than half as bad. It didn't last as long either,

Carlos and Marlene lost their car in a river-bed when they tried to reach the Palmgrove last night. They escaped unharmed and we will try to save the car. It is a VW so I am sure it will survive. Many newly repaired roofs flew off again, both in the Palmgrove and everywhere else. We have no electricity as our own internal temporary installation was damaged and several electrical poles outside are close to falling down. But we do have plenty of drinking water, food and blankets since the last storm. Now I will go back to the Palmgrove to help cleaning. It looks like a garbage dump again... Love to you all and I will try to communicate as much as I can but this is keeping me buzy.

Piña Palmera
November 10, 1997

Damage Report

In Oaxaca, it is reported that there were 83 deaths with 24 still missing. There was much destruction in remote mountains villages due to flooding. The Pochutla/Oaxaca highway is not passable. Highway 200 to Acapulco may also not be passable. Temporary repairs have been made to the road to Mazunte. The Turtle museum lost its roof during the storm. Area residents have received a great deal of relief supplies through the response of the Mexican Red Cross and donations.

Tom Penick
November 6, 1997


Two and a half years ago Librado Bohorquez came for the first time to Piña Palmera. He was only ten years then. He wanted to go to school. He wanted to go to school so bad that we all were touched by him and took him to our hearts. Librado's family is from Palma Larga. One of the poorest communities in this area. All the children were malnourished there even before the hurricane came and the river rose and took whatever little belongings they had. And destroyed their crops.

Librado has two disabled brothers. That is why the family came to us in the first place. But when Librado asked us if he could stay here and go to school we couldn't resist him...His family could no longer afford to pay for his schooling. School doesn't cost anything really but in order to assist you have to buy shoes, pencils, papers and many time there are obligatory fees to the local parent organization (that need the money in order to pay for maintenance of the school etc.)

Librado wanted to become a lawyer. He wanted to be able to help his family... twelve o'clock Monday night Librado died at the hospital in Pochutla. He was twelve years old.

Four days after the hurricane he came down with a fever. Because they were all staying at the hospital then, Silvia took him for consultation. The doctor gave him an analgesic and send him back. That day all children without disabilities moved back to the Palmgrove. His fever continued and he also got diarrhea. Dr. Balbino examined him and gave him antibiotics and Martha Cecilia took him with her to Puerto Angel to care for him. After five days he was much better and he wanted to go back to the Palmgrove to help out with all the work. He even started school together with everybody else. A few days later he got sick again with fever and pain in one leg. Balbino said that it was necessary to take blood-tests in order to get a diagnose. He suspected Septic Arthritis. We took him to the hospital where they gave him Gentamicin injections and send him back. The next day he still had fever and Moises took him to the hospital again and finally they took him in as a patient and started to take the tests. Sunday he seemed to be improving. Monday they diagnosed Septic Arthritis and Tuberculosis. Monday evening he very fast got worse and later at night he died. It was a big chock for us all.

Today he will be buried in Palma Larga...

Asking the family we have found out that his grandmother is coughing blood since a time back, and Librado spend the summer with his family. We will now take the whole family and test them for Tuberculosis, a very common disease in this area. We will also check everybody at the Palmgrove, it is possible there are more people here carrying it dormant. Librado never had a cough when he was here but Tuberculosis is a very dangerous disease in that way. You can carry it dormant for long periods of time or only have minor symptoms.

All of a sudden the losses after the hurricane became almost too much to bear... The material losses can be replaced, but to lose a child is too much. And there must be many more children in the villages that are at risk...

Piña Palmera
November 5, 1997


Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. Yes we did go to Huatulco, lots of trees down but very little structural damage with the storm. Lots of damage back toward the mountains, lot of people hurt and villages that are no more. The people we know there were involved with the helicopter pilots that ran food and clothing.

Will write very soon with complete details, many of which were first hand. Have some pictures, will scan and send. With the storm the prison at Pochutla most of the prisoners got loose and still are.

Dixon and Cherylb dleavers@erols.com November 1997

Piña Palmera Gets Help

This note is about our trip to Pina Palmera and the possibility of several small groups going down to help them clean up and rebuild. Please forward it to people who might be interested or could support this effort in other ways. Thanks!

And thank you to all who have sent checks and encouragement to help fund the water system for Pina Palmera. We're about halfway to our financial goal of buying Pina their own machine. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory leant us a test model which Tomas McCabe and I set up at Pina last week. It needs one more "in-line filter" to make the water potable, but they are using the water from the machine instead of the expensive drinking water to disinfect dishes and wash the babies. The water from the well is very contaminated and murky because muddy flood water filled up the well when Pina was under 5 feet of water during the flood. Also thanks to those of you who have forwarded these messages. We've been getting financial support as well as good wishes from people we don't even know! The staff at Pina also expressed their gratitude.

Our trip to Pina was very productive, yet way too fast. We arrived in Mexico City Wednesday night where we had a wonderful dinner at the home of Allan and Mary Culham from the Canadian Embassy, the major funders of the ecology project before Pina took it on. The next day we traveled to the coast of Oaxaca, stared in amazement at the destruction, stopped at Pina to give and receive many warm hugs and then set up a place to camp in Mazunte as Zipolite isn't incredibly safe and Pina was still pretty chaotic with trees down everywhere and everything outside drying. We showed up the next morning for the post-Paulina daily 8am (OK, 8:15) meeting where the staff makes the plan for the day. Then we started the process of setting up new technology in a disaster area and filming. It took a while to figure out the most appropriate place for the water machine at Pina. On Friday we took a trip to Pochutla to buy the necessary parts with which to set up the machine. The roof and door had been blown off the shed with the adequate water tank, but on Saturday afternoon some helpful teenagers fixed the door while we cleaned out the water tank. Since the electricity was out in that space due to the hurricane, Edel showed up on Sunday morning and fixed it. We were in Pt. Escondido interviewing Pina volunteers, taking showers and doing laundry for Anna and Balbino since they were trying to clean the belongings that survived the 180 mile and hour winds and the flood. What a mess! The next day the machine was pumping out water and we were testing for bacteria. Spent the rest of the afternoon filming, taking photos and cleaning up a path and some volunteers' kitchen. Tuesday morning we did a 45 minute training session for the 4 Pina staff that volunteered to take care of the water problem and machine. Filmed some more, exchanged good wishes and off we went to Mexico City where we made dinner and filled Alejandro Marcelli in on the latest news from the coast. Then back on a plane to San Francisco at 8am the next day. Whew!

During the hectic week we also attended a community meeting in Mazunte, took a couple of short swims in the ocean (which was surprisingly clean looking...) caught up with the staff and kids of Pina, and visited Paco, Malena and Jose at Balbino's consultorio in Pochutla. Tomas was very patient and hard working. He helped save some palm trees with a crew of laborers that had been sent to Pina from Oaxaca by friends of Anna. I helped with the composting bano disaster and massaged aching backs and shoulders of Pina staff. Four and a half days was definately not enough time to have much of a visit, but it was truly wonderful to see everyone. Exhausted as they were, they still have their senses of humor and compassion. Plus, the kids were really happy because with everything outside drying, trees fallen over everywhere and walls and roofs gone from many buildings, Pina was like one huge fort or something. And it is still our beloved Pina at the heart of things.

Anna tempted me with the idea of me bringing short-term working groups down to help clean up and rebuild like the ones that helped make the wheelchair paths and beds in the garden and the fence (part of it survived). It was so sad to see the garden. Or, I should say, the space that was the garden. It seems like all the organic debris and trash from the coast of Oaxaca was deposited there. All the trees had fallen down. The wheelchair beds survived, at least, but Adalberto will need a lot of help to clean up so they can replant. Everyone said it was the most beautiful the garden had ever been.

Please pass on the following flyer to anyone you think could help by participating or contributing funds to the working groups project. It could be the beginning of a Red Cross-type response organization for the environment. Any kind of response will help at this point. The amount of work to be done is daunting. Thanks for your support and interest!

Here is the flyer:

Mexican Hurricane Victims Need Help

Participate in a work group to help clean up and rebuild Piña Palmera!

Piña Palmera, a rehabilitation center for disabled children from southern Oaxaca, has asked the California Friends of Piña Palmera to organize work groups to help clean up and rebuild the center and to help deliver food and water to remote villages. Many of the 300 families they serve are indigenous farmers whose villages and crops were destroyed by Hurricane Pauline on October 8th.

The center is located in Zipolite, Oaxaca and is the only rehabilitation center in the region. They also work with human rights and environmental issues. Roughly 85% of the buildings suffered severe foundation damage due to the flood that left Piña under five feet of water. Many of the trees fell over and the garden was destroyed, except for the raised wheelchair beds. Pam McCann (past Piña volunteer) and Tomas McCabe (past Peace Corps volunteer) recently spent a week at Piña installing a water disinfecting machine. Thank you to all who have contributed money towards providing Piña with clean water - we've almost reached our goal!

Now we need the support of those who have not yet contributed in order to make these work groups happen. And please let us know if you know of a foundation that gives emergency funding. If sufficient resources become available, Pam will coordinate three 10-day work groups of 6 -10 people each.

Participants should be healthy and able to do physical labor in the heat, speak Spanish, have wilderness camping and good social skills and be able to pay for their trip, individually or by fundraising independently. Participants will be responsible for their own travel arrangements including medical. More information is available for potential participants.

The proposed dates are:

Group 1: November 15-25th,
Group 2: November 29th-December 9th, and
Group 3: December 13th-23rd

Please email Pam at pamannmccann@igc.org by November 7th if you would like more information. If you don't have access to email, call 707-874-9543. And please pass this message on to your email lists as well as people you know who may be interested. More information about Piña Palmera and the hurricane is available on the internet at http://palmera.webway.se/en/.

Please note: this can only happen with sufficient financial support so that we don't cost Pina Palmera anything.

Make checks payable to "California Friends of Piña Palmera", 1442 A Walnut Street #239, Berkeley, CA 94709. Thank you for your interest and support!

Pam McCann
November 1997

Back to Normal in Puerto Escondido


I have exchanged e-mail messages with Brian Larkin re my trip later this week to P.E. He suggested I call Gina Espinosa in P.E. and gave me her telephone number. I called Gina this morning at about 6:30 a.m. California time--8:30 a.m. Puerto Escondido time.

Gina answered on the second ring and gave me the kind of information I was hoping for---P.E. is in good shape and didn't suffer any serious damage from Pauline. Telephones were down briefly, but everything is pretty much back to normal. She said Zicatela beach is in good shape, restaurants are operational, etc. etc. Also gathered from her comments that business is not yet quite as brisk as usual.

Hope the above is helpful.

Bruce Samuel

November 3, 1997

Re: Club Med in Huatulco

This appeared in the newsgroup rec.travel.caribbean (wrong ocean, right Club Med):

Yes, I work for Club Med and can give you a lot of info. The only damage to the village were some broken glass and downed trees. The club did close for one week to clean up. All repairs have been made and the club is up and running. We have been in close contact with local government, there have been NO breakouts of water related illnesses. We have been testing the water and everything is safe. Hope this helps.

October 30, 1997

Storm Repairs in Huatulco

Called Hotel Castillo in Santa Cruz and was told all repairs have been completed in that area. So we are very happily anticipating spending the time there. Although it is not until Thanksgiving, we will email back report after we get back and if there is anything new you hear about, I would greatly appreciate any information via email. Thanks for your prompt response. Did you spend anytime in Oaxaca or surrounding ruins? If so, is the trip there ok?

Thanks again,

October 28, 1997

Visiting Conditions at Zipolite

Dear Julie and other friends that want to come back to Zipolite,

Conditions here are constantly improving. Tia Maria is doing fine. Her house did apparently not suffer as much damage as the rest. I am sure that you can have a good vacation here in December. Just make sure to bring mosquito-net and repellent and a hat and a good sun-screen. There is not much shadow left as many trees and palms were damaged. Bring your own bed-sheets and sleeping-bag too. Remember to drink only purified water (and to brush your teeth in purified water too.) and be careful when you eat raw vegetables.

Comunications to and from Pochutla work just fine. The banks and stores are open. Zipolite and surrounding villages now have electricty. A few restaurants like San Cristobal and La Choza did not suffer much damage and have already reopened. Others will surely open in December. La Puesta is also reopening soon. Felipa suffered severe damage, everything is gone. Shambala suffered a lot of damage too but it is quickly coming together and I am sure they will be able to receive visitors soon. Lo Cosmico lost several cabanas as well as Tres de Diciembre. Both are working hard to reopen their restaurants as soon as possible. It is harder to find a place to stay than before and a lot of beautiful thatched palm roofs are gone and replaced with asbestos or carton-sheets. The beach looks better already.

Wellcome back!
Piña Palmera
October 27, 1997

Return to Piña Palmera

Dear friends!

Yesterday I returned to the Palmgrove with little Manuela, Robin, Darrah, Ulises and Violeta. It felt great to be back home again, even though home is now a very different place. Two weeks have gone by and everybody has worked really hard to make the Palmgrove a liveable place again. Today Malena, Paco and Jose are going back to the Palmgrove too, after staying for ten days at Balbino's little office in Pochutla.

All reports are true. The Palmgrove is totally destroyed. Many houses can be repaired for temporary use, while we build new and many things can maybe still be rescued and washed. The problem is that there is no clean water to wash with. Now there are one electric pump working filling the three water tanks, but all the water is brown and dirty. The dishes are first washed with well-water and at the end disinfected with drinking-water with Clorox in it. Many of the fruit-trees in the garden are damaged and lying down. It is going to take at least another month just to clean the Palmgrove from trash, fallen palms, branches, tree trunks, etc. Surviving takes a lot of energy, just to keep yourself clean (impossible), keep the eating and cooking-area clean, make and serve food, organize the workers (there is so much to do so it is hard to know what to start with). A man from Orizaba, Dr Eduardo Galland, sent seven tough workers to stay for two weeks and to help with the clean-up. They are working together with a another crew of five that Eric Ulrich send down from Oaxaca, cutting fallen palms, shoveling mud, rescuing fruit trees, taking apart damaged buildings etc. We urgently need two new roofs, one over what's left of the carpentry and one over the old building where the boy's room and social worker's office were.

We are getting a lot of well-meaning visitors and helpers. We are very grateful for all help we can get, there is work enough for everybody, but if you are thinking about coming down here, please be prepared so that you really help and don't cause more problems. Please don't come without asking us first. There is no place to stay in the palmgrove and very few places to rent in Zipolite. There are only two doctors in Zipolite, Balbino and the new doctor at the village's clinic. They are both very busy and the diseases are just starting. Already there are cases of Dengue, colds, diarrhea's, respiratory problems and there are a lot of skin-afflictions like infected wounds, rashes, fungus, etc.

Our goal is to start to attend to patients again in January. November and December we will need to clean, fix, mend and reorganize. A volunteer architect came this morning from Mexico City and we are expecting help from more architects from the University in Puebla, next week. All our new buildings will be round with cone roofs. This experience shows us that round roofs and structures withstood the best. We urgently need to make architectural plans and evaluate how much time and money it will take to rebuild Piña Palmera. Everybody is asking what we need but it is hard to know. People are in shock and every day more exhausted. There are still not enough mattresses. We received about 20 yesterday from Fundacióón MIRA and more are promised to arrive from DIF. For now we have plenty of medicines and clothes but we need roofing material for temporary roofs.

Every day I get a clearer picture of what really happened the 8th of October. Yesterday I was told that the night after the hurricane (Wednesday night) Moises and Hermilo walked (for four hours and got 1/2 hours lift) in rain and through the bush, to the hospital in Pochutla to ask for help. There they run into the militaries that agreed to go and pick up the people first thing next day. Hermilo went back to the Palmgrove with them and Moises went to Pochutla to buy food and water on credit for everyone. (This was before any help had come to the area.) Everybody lived and nobody got sick not even the children with severe disabilities.

Now I have to go back and see if I can rescue some of my own things that are all strewn all over my yard in dried mud. Thanks to Heaven the four last days have been sunny so now it is possible to walk around the Palmgrove without sinking into the mud, and finally things have started to dry. Another good news is that even though most things in the office were trashed by the water, it never reached Ana Bertha's computer and printer! She can still use them, it is incredible! This means that our administration is working pretty much as normal which helps to keep things organized and under control.

Thanks again for your help and for all your messages! And thanks for all your donations towards rebuilding Piña Palmera!

With Love

Anna Johansson de Cano

October 24, 1997

Puerto Escondido Report from Wayne

Looks like Puerto Escondido weathered the storm well. We suffered only a few broken windows at our place. The beaches will be a bit grubby with driftwood and debris for another two or three weeks. Roads and bridges that were damaged are being repaired. Power and phone services, although intermittent, are available during the daytime at least. Lots of trees blown down but not much else to report right now. I'll have the full scoop for you on the way back, possibly sooner if the BBS in Puerto is sending out mail packets to the internet servers in Oaxaca.

Hasta luego,

Wayne Adams
October 21, 1997

11 Days after the Hurricane

Dear friends!

Thanks again for your messages, for your patients with a crazy e-mail list (it's getting fixed, sorry if it has caused you problems) and for all your donations, fundraising, work and support. I am really moved to see that Piña Palmera grows in the heart of so many people, all over the world, and non the least here in Mexico. Every door we have knocked has opened and many doors opened without even knocking. People have been calling non-stop to Slade Child Foundation in Washington D.C, my parents in Sweden, Flavias house in Mexico City, my mother in law in Oaxaca, offering help. Many people are working hard in Mexico City and in Oaxaca not to mention the Palmgrove, coordinating all the support, collecting food, medicines, clothes, water and construction materials, organizing trucks to go down to the coast.
So far everything we have sent have reached it's destinations. We are collaborating with Ecosolar in Mazunte, Nuevo Amanecer in Huatulco, Organizaciones Indias de Derechos Humanos in Oaxaca and with DIF (the governments social department) in order to reach as many affected communities and people as possible. So far we have send down two big trucks, and one trailer, and one truck is going down tomorrow. We have send food, water, clothes, and medicines to Piña Palmera, all the "albuerges" (temporary homes) in Zipolite and to Mazunte and San Agustinillo. There are fifteen places in Mexico City, one in Oaxaca, one in Cuervaca, collecting donations that will be distributed by Piña Palmera, Ecosolar and the organizations we are collaborating with.
A crew of five people from UNAM Ixtacala (a university in Mexico City) have gone to the Palmgrove to help with the clean-up work. Another crew of six doctors, also from Mexico City, have gone down to work. Two of them will help Balbino and four will report to Flor Castillo from Nuevo Amanecer in Huatulco and she will help them reach affected communities like Benito Juarez and Coyula. Another rainstorm hit the coast on Friday, making the work difficult and causing more destruction to roads and houses. We have also gotten news from Tiltepec, one of the villages we work with, that only a few houses were destroyed but, as all over the area, the farmers lost their harvest.
A make-shift kitchen is working in the Palmgrove, since Tuesday, and they hope to be able to move out some of the five people with severe disabilities from the hospital this coming week and some of the disabled children (Elias, German and Jose Vasquez) have already moved back from the consultory, leaving Malena, Paco and Jose there still.
We will rebuild the Palmgrove, not just repair it. In order to do this we will contact architects from the University of Puebla that this spring started to make an architectural plan over Piña Palmera. Now we have to look over those plans and add protections walls for the river and make more concrete buildings. Of course we will combine with adobe and palmleaf, but it was thanks to our two concrete buildings that everybody survived. And thanks to the workers and volunteers that were there and knew what to do.
Thanks to everybody again for your help. If you live in Mexico City and want to donate money, water, food, clothes, medicines, construction-material or kitchen utensils please contact Flavia Anau or Marlene Kaas at 618 0518 or Marite Fernandez at 687 4232
Thanks again for being with us!

Lots of Love
Anna Johansson de Cano

October 19, 1997

You can find more information on our webpage http://palmera.webway.se
Donations can be send to:Slade Child Foundation,
P.O. Box 44246, L'Enfant Plaza, Washington, D.C. 20026, U.S.A.
They can be reached at 301-464-6473. Their webpage is at
www.sladechild.org. and their e-mail address is scf@sladechild.org

Our bankaccounts in Mexico are:
INVERLAT, Pochutla, Oaxaca, # 50258-8 and
Banco Bital, Sucursal 0843, Cuenta No. 4006261259,Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico


Solicitamos tu apoyo. Pongan en todos los idiomas este mensaje en News groups

Solicitamos el apoyo de Toda la RED Ayudanos a ayudar difundir esta dirección por la RED, emails, News, chat, foros y si tienes conocidos que tengan pagina o tienes una, les pedimos que hagan una liga a la siguiente dirección.


De antemano gracias

Ulises Moreno
Por las Victimas del Huracan Paulina en México
October 19, 1997

Western Union Provides Temporary Free Money Transfers for Donations

Hello Everybody in the USA who wants to send donations to Piña: "Excelsior Mexican Newspaper" in Spanish announced Oct.17 that Western Union, at any of U.S.A.'s agencies, will send yr donations "free of charge" to the destroyed and damaged areas in Acapulco, Oaxaca and Chiapas. Only "free" to these three areas.

This service is only for the next 10 days, so hurry up to "Western Union" and send money in minutes to Oaxaca. For more details (I have not called since I read it last night)call: in USA only: 1-800-325-4045 WESTERN UNION .

Regards to all,

Mina Diaz de Rivera
October 18, 1977

The following appeared in the newsgroup soc.culture.mexican on 10/17/97:

Viernes 17 de Octubre de 1997

Sin Agua, 100.000 Oaxaqueños; Miles Quedan a la Intemperie

Nueva perturbación tropical con intensas lluvias en la costa oaxaqueña complicó ayer la difícil situación en esa zona, pues el reparto de ayuda a través de helicópteros se suspendió, y además de la hambruna, 100 mil oaxaqueños que viven fuera de las zonas hoteleras en Puerto Angel, Puerto Escondido y Huatulco carecen de agua potable, días después de que el huracán Paulina afectara la región.

Asimismo en 20 poblados del municipio de Juquila -donde quedaron destruidas seis mil viviendas y 48,600 sin techo- la falta de morada se suma a esos dos problemas, informaron por separado las autoridades estatales de Protección Civil y los alcaldes de esos lugares.

Victor M. Martinez, Jr.


Fax from Zipolite

hi everyone...we just received this as a fax from our friends, valery nadeau and shawn spitzer, who are at piña palmera, the center for handicapped kids on the oaxaca coast near puerto angel. they went down from the city on thursday morning with tools, a generator, a pump, tarps, saws, etc., and will be there probably a week or ten days. for those of you who know v&s, nadia is fine; she's staying with us.

we also got an email today from the Slade Child Foundation, saying that donations have been pouring in, and giving their email and website and address for tax deductible donations (otra vez!) (checks to "Slade Foundation for Piña Palmera" will go to pp)

Please pass this and other stuff we've sent about the storm etc along your email nets...this is so amazing! the cyberspace world wide web for real in action...

thanks again, love, thorny and jane

Received at casa colonial, oaxaca, on 10/17/97 from valerie nadeau & shawn spitzer

Report from Puerto Angel and Zipolite. All previous reports were totally inaccurate: Puerto is COMPLETELY devastated and Zipolite is destroyed (not my words)....ALL the big trees are either toppled over or de-branched....all have been stripped of leaves. It looks like a giant egg-beater did a number on the entire countryside....the destruction is really beyond belief. The Piña looks like a giant "pick-up-stick" game and the Posada now has no shade and all bugalows have ocean (bay) views. There are literally no roofs intact in this area, and the rain & wind swept everyone's possessions all over the place. The road (to get here) was not bad [they went via salina cruz] and there is lots of food and drinking water available. Electricity should be back on tomorrow....so anyway the whole gamut of human response is very evident--the neighborly love and concern, as well as the greed.

What people need here, more than anything, is physical labor-there is just SO much cleanup to do and its REAL exhausting work. However, housing is extremely short, as you can imagine, so anyone who comes should be prepared to camp.

If another truck is coming, there IS a big demand for chain saws and roof "laminas" of ANY material. Someone can go out to Rojas and get Shawn's chain saw [it wouldn't fit in their vw bug!] if there is anyone coming soon (see Luis) and a container of 2 stroke motor oil to mix with gasoline. Anna/Balbino [the wife & husband team who are the directors of Piña Palmera] said he sent those "special hacienda forms" by Estafeta. The phone might be working here very soon - we'll call you if we can (we figure this fax will save us a 20 minute phone call!) Love to you all, V&S

Thornton & Jane Robison
Casa Colonial
Apdo. 640
Oaxaca 68000
Oaxaca, Mexico
e-mail: colonial@antequera.com
Visit our Home Page at www.mexonline.com/colonial.htm
October 18, 1997

Paulina Impressions / Zipolite Information

The last report was too pedantic. This time only pictures no preaching. A forty foot fishing boat on its side beached on la playa Panteón [pre-storm photo]. Wanted water so bad, you'll use the nearest tool, knowing though doing so, you may damage it, yet willing to take the risk. (that wasn't me, that was me imagining what another person might feel) I'm sometimes more willing to see what might change, as well as not wanting to add to the problem, myself.

I need to add to people who are concerned with the conditions of relatives. Both people I checked on were AOK. Shambala is there and coming back together. Richard's Island floated away as he planned. (He wasn't on it at the time; he's in San Francisco. The lady selling the woven roots is still here, so is her friend John. San Cristobal, La Choza are rebuilding and look good soon. I'd live there now, and may later. Shambala is not a shambles. Gloria and the birds and dog and her friends had a harrowing time. Three women and a baby, trying to hold onto a roof. They finally ran for it. And made it. The books are OK.

Lots of fugatas every night. During the day it hurts my eyes. Texas Baptist Mens' Groups were here to work on water purification in the distant villages. I went to the airport to get tickets to LA for four weeks and I met these guys, and made a note of the many tractor trailers in the lot. It looks like a truck stop in the desert of the Western US. Lots of great response to the needs of the area. Hard to detail the details. But I was impressed. Also by all the guys with guns. There was highway patrol, traffic police, army, marines, regular police, state police. It got too confusing. But they had guns. I think everyone was very polite to each other during this whole event.

There have been effective people contacting through email. I don't think its appropriate to name you. But you have made a difference. People are arriving now to help out in the reconstruction. Bring a tent. I wonder if Herb Cain felt this way. There was no place that escaped serious damage. If you loved a place, project, or idea here, I suggest you support it.

Volunteers getting soaking wet while cleaning out the cocina with a hose from the working water pump. I know there was an incorrect phone number for Slade Children Fund, I will get that dealt with by this printing. For the next week, ending on Wed. I will try to get out as much information as I can. It gives me a chance to meet people I hadn't met. Signing off until I get more juice, David Grant

It's morning, Eric, Jan and a bunch of folks from Oaxaca arrived and are beginning to sort out the electricity, redo roofs. They brought a pickup and young men are gathering up broken branches and basura and carting it away. It rained last night, and we need to figure a way to shelter the equipment that has been brought outdoors for cleaning and drying. The water at Piña looks pretty clean now.

Things are beginning to roll at Piña thanks to your help. I will be returning to LA next Wed. I hope to have a tape of short clips of the work at Piña before and after the event. If you have contacts with the media, I would like to share the Piña experience during the four weeks I'm in LA and try to rally more support in this way. Talk to you all later.

David Kendall Grant, M.S.Ed, Ph.D. Candidate
The Program of International Development/Intercultural Education
School of Education
Department of Educational Policy, Planning and Administration
E-mail: dgrant@scf.usc.edu
URL: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~dgrant
S-Mail: c/o CAI Piña Palmera, Apartado Postal 109, Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico 70900.

October 16, 1977

Relief donations for Piña Palmera

To all helping Piña Palmera:

We have been besieged with e-mail memos, phone messages, etc., so I am trying to get the word out to all of you who want to help Piña Palmera. As always, the SladeChild Foundation will help everybody who would like to send monetary support to the Palm Grove. To those of you who are not yet familiar with the SladeChild Foundation, for many years we have been providing the service of forwarding 100% of donations to Piña Palmera. In this manner U.S. citizens making donations get the IRS tax deduction, and Piña Palmera gets the total amount of your donation. We can be reached at 301-464-6473. Our webpage is at www.sladechild.org. Send donations to:

SladeChild Foundation,
L'Enfant Plaza,
P.O. Box 44246,
Washington, D.C. 20026, U.S.A.

Please note our new e-mail address: scf@sladechild.org. Best way to get us quickly is to e-mail us, or call if you want to talk directly.

SladeChild Foundation
October 17, 1997

Since Piña Palmera also works with families in need in the outlying areas a contribution to PP is also a good way to help with the general recovery of the area. You may specify that your donation be used in the community if you desire. -Tom Penick

Letter from Anna

Dear friends,

Thank you all for your concern and for your help. We will need money in order to reconstruct the Palmgrove, to keep on paying salaries to the staff, to get vehicles so that we can get out to the villages again, etc. Another important need right now at the coast is water purifying plants. 1200 communities were damaged by the hurricane only in Oaxaca. I have just talked to the governor's wife; lic Clara Sherer, and she thinks that 150,000 to 200,000 people are affected. (damnificados)

The Secretary of Foreign Relations (Relaciones Exteriores) is not accepting foreign help. That makes it impossible for the Red Cross, UNICEF, etc to help. Every person that goes to the area is another mouth to feed. Means one more person that need drinking water, one more person to cook for. (There are very few kitchens left.) At this moment very few voluteers are needed. The risk for infection is great. People arriving to the area are liking to cause more problems than they can help. (Already a group of doctors got lost in the mountains and the helicopters had to spend time looking for them in stead of distributing food and water to isolated villages.)

Goods gathered in the U.S or other countries are expensive and difficult to get all the way down here. It might end up costing more than it is worth. Only especific technical equipment like waterpurifying plants etc are worthwhile to have transported down. Please don't send clothes etc from foreing countries. It will also cause problems with the customs most likely. We need money the most. (Stores are open in Pochutla and people from Puerto Angel and Zipolite can buy things if they have money.) Thanks again for aall your help!

Here we are doing our best to communicate and to organize everything. (This I am writing with one hand while holding Manuela with the other.) We don't have much news from the coast. They are all very buzy and it was allways difficult to communicate with the palmgrove and now it is very difficult.

P.D: Balbino just called from the coast. Everybody are fine and still animated. Things are starting to return to normal. Banks are open, all the staff are back to work. (Only six hours a day, they are also working on their own houses). They have daily meetings planning the work.

Anna Johansson de Cano
October 14, 1997

Paulina, the aftermath

Hi everyone:

It's a week now since our friend made her brief visit and turned our lives in circles, upside down and every whichway. Mexico is definitely not a third world country. Let me qualify that. Most of the people I know live in ways very much similar to what I experienced in Africa, and that is not bad, it' not L.A., but it's part of L.A., They lived simply, not usually adequately. Lived like my folks on the farm in North Dakota lived, outside facilities etc. And like NoDak, it's changing and growing. Things take a while. But the social services after a couple of days kicked in and did a job which rivals that of what I experienced in the L.A. earthquake.
Puerto Angel has electricity tonight, (they working 24 hours a day, brought in two giant generators on flatbed trucks just to power pt Angel for the restart. they've got lines to Zipolite now, but no electricity) people are standing around talking, kids playing football, its like a movie opening or street festival. However that's still 3km from Zipolite and Piña Palmera. We went out a refurbished gas lamps, pulled the battery out of my defunct trailer for 12 volt lights, and bought a new gas lamp, but had to buy the expensive 20 liter gas bottle, which weighs a ton. (the nearest place to get gas was Huatulco or Pt Escondido, both too far away to be economical.
We've set up a storehouse for incoming supplies at one house, and cooking at another and now the kids with less severe disabilities (they're ambulatory and independent) in the almost cleaned out Special Ed building. (where I and the kids experienced the terrifying fury of Pauline) We've almost got the comidor (eating area) cleaned and are cleaning and repairing the stoves and placing them outside the destroying cocina for use under the remaining palapa.
The first thing was organizing ourselves. Juntas occurred daily in the morning and the evening, to project the needs and review progress. Celli and Hermillo took over the group at the hospital, the severely needy kids, the elderly and homeless Piña associates. They could teach the military about schedules and systems! We've basically had to split our energies between Pochutla and Piña, one team caring for the kids, the other restoring what's serviceable at Piña so we can get them back ASAP.
My back is killing me from pushing a shovel against hardened mud covering floors in Lety's room, the water tanks in the lavanderia and the dish washing area. Water tanks; draining off the week old mosquito and mud and debris was the first order. Second was finally getting submerged generators and pumps working so we could clean out the wells which were quite contaminated by now. Luckily, fresh bottled water has been filling up our bodega. The salvavidas from California, Bob Burnside and crew brought in antibiotics, water purification tablets and more fresh water. The big thing is to reoccupy Piña right away.
Tomorrow, a week and a day after the Event, we will be eating and meeting in Piña again. Pretty darn good.
The other problem is the damage that the flood did to our material needed to serve the needs of the children and adults at Piña and the surrounding areas which are part of the community based rehabilitation. All our vehicles are wasted. Every with wood has warped, everything mettle has rusted or oxidized. all the medical equipment in Dr. Balbinos office is now 'found object sculpture'. I hope you're keeping note, because it looks like a garage sale at Piña, everything standing out in the mud trying to dry, cloths hanging from trees, caked with mud, because there's no clean water to wash them. Speaking of baths, I'm glad this is a computer because I'm pretty stinky, in one week I've had two baths, one in the ocean; not too effective, the other a 'bucket bath using a liter of fresh water from one of the bottles, (an old Peace Corps trick - wet a cloth, run it all over you, soap up and use the rest to rinse off) I even shaved! The dirty water left me and everyone else with boils, pimples, and other chaffing problems.
Multiply that simple problem of washing by the number of kids and adults not just in Piña but in the whole area and you can get a pictures of the potential dangers; cholera, dengue, malaria, schisto, name it. It's not a healthy scene, there's untreated standing water everywhere. Many animals died and maybe people too, who might be upstream, and people down stream are bathing, and washing clothes and dishes in the same water. Lots of people who lost their shoes (like me) have injuries to their feet, very dangerous in a tropical climate, where infection sets in fast. (catch that note - we need bandages and medicine for treating these things)and shoes.
Meanwhile people have been very good to start sending in supplies, but sometimes you can't help but wonder what people are thinking, We received a box of old newspapers, all the same day issue. We received dirty old clothes. I have that problem already, all my clothes are covered in mud, I don't need some else's dirty clothes. But this is actually pretty normal in the business of supporting 'charities' people give what they don't want. I'm not saying this to be unthankful, but just to let you know what goes on. And as a person trying to being an observer, there is the learning curve, many folks around the area have looked at these arriving supplies as early Christmas presents to them personally, so the pick through the items, or hoard them. The aid agency have changed their distribution system in the last few days, delivering direct to the people. Last night as I took a taxi back to Piña, I saw hundreds of people gathered at the football pitch waiting on a big truck. There were colored lights flashing, police with silver rifles, and two men in white shirts were handing out items from the back of the truck.
And since I am trying to be transparent and self critical about Piña, as I would with any project, let me add another observation. One thing I definitely noticed was how the gender and age role differences expressed themselves, not just at Piña, but all over the area. I was shoveling out the thick mud from the washing area, I did this by myself just to what the reaction or lack thereof might be. I was happy when Jose, who has eye trouble and is a little delayed as well as Eddi, the girl who's become the computer wiz came over and wanted to help. Jose required some continual prompted as he tends to drift from attention regularly, but he did great, picking out all the broken pieces of tile from the giant dish washing table. Eddi assisted and then took over rinsing away the remaining mud. Meanwhile a group of five or six young teens and preteen boys sat around joking, kicking a football or watching other work. Boys are very insulated from things I feel here. The mothers will save plates of extra food, that the girls (and volunteers!) don't have access to. The girls use soap, the boys the machetes. This is a unique opportunity for them to partake in rebuilding their own world, and not turning the responsibility over to others, adults and mothers. There's a lot they can do and participate in at an appropriate level and quality. As a teacher, I believe in the old idea of being a change agent. Gender and age bias is something that should be attended to in all cultures. It's difficult being in another culture and one hand say, this is there way, and the other hand being true to your self and what you know are universal rights and truths, You have to take a stand, otherwise you're supporting the system. This disaster is a prime opportunity for education at Piña. This is being brought up in the Juntas, and if there anything I know about Piña, it's that things will get talked about and brought out into the open.
I discovered one computer still works, so maybe we can continue our computer training project in the future, although it seems irrelevant now. Now that is something we can use, you can't give up on projects just because of disasters, does L.A.? No business continues, and so do we.
The carpentry shop is devastated. The touring carpentry project is on hold, like the computer training because the equipment is destroyed and key people are in the hospital. For people with delicate and fragile conditions this event was a big set back. But these folks just don't disappear, or get culled by such as event as this. They demand our participation even more. This is no different than the event in the US when FEMA and al the churches and Rotary and Shriners pull together (where are you guy! Rotary has a great water program, bring it here) The Mexicans are pulling together, and they should, but you all know Piña and it's special requirements that no one else comprehends nor matter where they live. Even exhorting already!
Back to events: The military came in the last three days and after surveying the situation and consulting with us about what was needed, they went to work with shovels, Humvees, chain saws and winches, extricating cars, moving mueblas, swabbing the decks. They even got the Nova off of the Palm trees, whether it starts is another issue. As I said at the start the eating, washing, cooking areas and the special ed building and soon office are or will be ready, literally within hours of this writing. Mexico Won. They did it without help, we just help hurry it along.(I hope)(and trying to avoid any paternalist POV) I was just glad to be here to participate, that doesn't' sound right does it? It was a life experience I wouldn't exchange, for an easier life, But I wish we didn't have to experience it.
I saw Paco, Malena, Elias, and Jose today at the Pochutla office of Dr. B. Paco screamed and smiles Malena laughed leaning over to one side, Jose was running his hands over a new Chevy Pickup. Elias said hi and said my name when I walked in the door. I don't have to add anymore. You know how that feels.
I went to visit my friends at the La Choza restaurant last night. Sergio the owner, was very happy, serene even. He just pointed up and said. 'It's in Gods hands, the rest means nothing' his hospitality amidst the ruins of his restaurant didn't diminish. He offered me a cup of coffee and a chair and was relaxed by gas lamp while the drizzle drifted around us. He got all his rooms cleaned up, has to rebuild the palapa like everyone else, but he says they'll be ready by December. I think sooner at the rate everyone is hustling.
Well, that about the end of battery time I have, and no time really to proof it, I hope you can do that for me. Piña is coming back alive, within a week or days we'll have electricity again, which mean lights, which means pumps which means fresh water. Which means Piña is happening. Below I'm including the info about where to and how to help, You know what aspects of Piña have a special place in your heart; I worked mostly in Special Ed, some other were drawn to the carpentry, the garden, and whatever else uniquely was felt. You can write to the folks you know at Piña and ask them what they need in their area.
I'll sign off now, I'm a lot calmer if not more tired and sore than I was a week ago. Take care, David Grant

Please send donations to these bank accounts:
INVERLAT, Pochutla, Oaxaca, # 50258-8 or to
Banco Bital
Sucursal 0843
Cuenta No. 4006261259
Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico
or to
Slade Child Foundation
L'Enfant Plaza
Post Office Box 44246
Washington D.C. 20026
(Please write the cheque out to Slade Child Foundation but add that it is for Piña Palmera and they will send the whole amount to us.)
Tel: (202) 508 38 60

Our address is:
C.A.I. Piña Palmera A.C.
Apartado Postal 109
c.p. 70900 Pochutla, Oaxaca, MEXICO
Tel and fax: +52-958-40342

You can read more about the Piña Palmera at http://palmera.webway.se

David Kendall Grant, M.S.Ed, Ph.D. Candidate
The Program of International Development/Intercultural Education
School of Education
Department of Educational Policy, Planning and Administration
E-mail: dgrant@scf.usc.edu
URL: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~dgrant
S-Mail: c/o CAI Piña Palmera, Apartado Postal 109, Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico 70900.

October 15, 1997

Dear friends,

I am now in Oaxaca and finally together with my children! How wonderful to see them again. Yesterday I talked on the phone with Araceli that told me that all the staff got their homes destroyed. Everybody are still healthy and they need kitchen-articles, matressess and bedsheets and anything else you can think of, she said, there is nothing left. Araceli is also helping distribute the food, clothes and water that we are sending down to the different "albergues" where people are staying, and making sure the help is reaching the people that need it the most.

Right now I am in the casa Colonial in Oaxaca where we just have had a meeting organizing help to Piña Palmera. Many friends from U.S.A., Holland and other countries, who live here in Oaxaca are offering their help. Four friends (Valerie and Shawn Spitzer, Eric Ulrich and Ian ) are already on the way down to the coast with tools and supplies and ready to help working. Gary Titus have photographs taken of the Palmgrove after the hurricane. We selected a few that will be scanned and put on our web-site as soon as possible. (http://palmera.webway.se) It is very sad to see all the Palm-trees that have fallen and all the destruction.

Right now I will go and visit the seven adolescents from Piña Palmera that live here in Oaxaca in order to finish high-school. (Isaias 18 yrs old with polio, Elida 20 yrs old, also with polio, Miguel-Angel 18 yrs old with a chronical ear-infection and hearing problems, Zoraida, 17 yrs old, Teresita de Jesus, 16 yrs old, Ricardo, 16 yrs old and with epilepsy, Fidel, 15 yrs old). Their families have all lost their homes and the kids are worried. These students are also dependent on Piña Palmera for all their expenses so I will go and see what they need most urgently. Thanks again for your support!

Tonios and Regulas daughter Violeta, is here in Oaxaca with me. She tells me that "Lo Cosmico" was almost totally destroyed. Nobody is hurt as they took shelter in a little storage-room under their new kitchen.

Anna Johansson de Cano
c/o Esperanza Perez de Cano
Calle Fray Antonio Gay # 2
Oaxaca, OAX. C.P. 68000
tel:951-550 79
October 14, 1997

Puerto Escondido & Puerto Angel

Dear Tom,

You may remember that I emailed you during the summer to inquire about rain in Pto Angel because I was planning a trip in Oct. Well.....

I have just returned from what will always be a memorable "vacation!" We stayed in a condo in Pto Escondido, but decided to take a day trip (for lunch!) to Pto Angel on Wed, the day of Pauline. We of course had no idea a hurricane was predicted (or was it? I still don't know). Our VW bug had a canvas roof that wouldn't shut, making the trip a bit difficult as the rain increased and we considered pulling over for shelter on the way. Thank goodness we didn't, b/c of course it only got worse. Wind & rain were quite strong when we got to the little restaurant in town where we had lunch to wait out the storm(!). Soon of course, the wind was howling, rain was spraying through windows like a hose, and eventually the sea was coming under the doors. We experienced the "eye" when darkness suddenly became light, and having seen a documentary on hurricanes, I knew that this was the real thing, and that the other side of this light could be worse. It was harrowing, and luckily we were able to get to higher ground, moving upstairs of this building, by this time feeling very vulnerable. The owner of the little restaurant/hotel was wonderful. We had a room for the night, candles, water and candy bars! The town was in incredibly bad shape - power lines down, trees down, and most roofs off homes. Many homes completely destroyed, roads blocked, mud everywhere. Local people lost so much, but were immediately working to clear roads of debris and assist each other.

We decided to try to get back to Pto Escondido, although there were conflicting reports about road access. Our VW had been submerged in water and had thick mud on the floor and in the gear shift, but characteristically, it started up when jumped (finding cables was another adventure!) The trip took over 3 hours, but w/the help of local people who moved power lines and trees out of our way, we got through.

Pto Escondido was also hit and had no power or water, so we decided to try to fly out Fri AM. We were very lucky to get a flight to Mexico City that day. Much activity at the airport...supplies of food, water, & medications had already begun.

I wanted to give you an update and thank you for your info which was quite correct. You mentioned that this was hurricane season....

Thanks again,
Julie Strudlowski

October 13, 1997

More from Julie:

In Puerto Escondido there appeared to be fewer trees down and less damage to buildings than in Puerto Angel. We saw some roofs damaged in PE, but had little time to notice much more. Without power and water, restaurants were largely closed (we found one open and it was serving eggs, hamburgers and fish and cold beer! They had block ice, so we knew someone had a generator!) With most everything closed, it was hard to tell what internal damage may have occurred. We were quite exhausted when we finally got to Pto Escondido, so we did little exploring. The road along Zicatela beach didn't appear to be badly damaged, although we turned around early when we saw that there was no power anywhere. I hope also that Art & Harry's etc is ok. We decided to get on the first plane available once we determined that there were diminishing supplies (which, needless to say, were needed by the locals).

We were staying at the Condos Carrizalillo on the 3rd floor and when we arrived there, we found that it had been flooded w/about 3" of water from the rain that had seeped under the door. Our view of the ocean which was stunning before Pauline was even more lovely after because a few trees had fallen and cleared the vista!

I wish I could be of more help. This was my first trip to Puerto Escondido, and certainly, won't be my last.

Julie S
Redwood City, CA

Dear friends,

Thanks again for you concern and for all you phone calls and messages. It is now late Sunday night and I am writing this from Mexico City. Tomorrow night I will go to Oaxaca to be with my children Robin and Darrah that arrived there today. (There they are staying with their grandmother.) Balbino called at nine o'clock tonight telling me that the director of the hospital in Pochutla were throwing them out. Malena (a 15 year old girl with cerebral palsy), Paco ( a thirteen year old boy with cerebral palsy), German (a ten year old boy with c.p.), Jose ( a seventeen year old boy with braindamage) and Elias (ten year old with Duchenne muscular distrofy) were all taken to Balbino's little consultory in Pochutla were they are staying together with their care-takers. But what were they going to do with the other five, many with severe disabilities?

While Balbino did his best to resolve the problem in Pochutla, Flavia and I called all the people we knew with influence to ask them to put pressure on the director of the hospital. Not an easy task late at night on a Sunday. One hour later Balbino called back and said that the hospital had accepted the other five as patients. (Leticia, 20 yrs old and quadriplegic, Ezequio, 35 yrs old and paraplegic with an ugly bedsore, Celestino, 19 yrs old with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Alfredo 16 yrs old with epilepsy and severe brain damage and in a very weak condition and Raymundo from Tiltepec with epilepsy and brain damage.)

Each one accompanied by a care-taker from the Palmgrove. Moises and the older kids are working hard cleaning the Palmgrove. They have no cleaned out one room in the concrete house (la "casa nueva") and several boys are sleeping there tonight. (Gaby, Chelo, Huicho, Fredi and Nabor.) They are planning to clean and repair whatever's left of the kitchen this coming week to start cooking there as soon as possible.

As almost all the staff lost their homes (only Octavio, Adalberto, Anabertha and Jim have houses left) they are all busy taking care of their own families and trying to rebuild or make temporary homes for themselves. The people from Zipolite that lost their homes are living in the "agencia", in the chapel, in the house of Lalo Martinez and the house of late tia Susana in front of the soccer field.)

Our volunteers are working 24 hours a day and everybody is exhausted. We need more volunteers to help take care of the people with disabilities. We are looking for intelligent and sturdy people who are not afraid to live in harsh conditions and that speak fluent Spanish. Preferably with experience in taking care of disabled children.

On the palmgrove they now have enough food and water for everybody but there is no clean water to wash in. (The truck we sent down yesterday arrived today with food, water and clothes that were distributed to the hospital, to the agencia in Zipolite and to the Palmgrove.)

If you are interested in going please write me first. We only need five or six people for the moment, maybe more later when the reconstruction start. Bring sleeping-bag, mosquito-net, flash-light and personal articles. Another urgent need at the Palmgrove is vehicles. All our cars were destroyed. (Balbino took a closer look at his own pickup-truck, but it is crushed by a palm-tree and had water up over it's seats and is probably beyond repair). We need a vehicle to transport things and people to and from the palmgrove and we also need a vehicle to get out to the villages to see all our patients and to deliver medicine, food and clothes to the disabled children in our program and to their families. All people need help but the children with disabilities are more at risk now. Love to all of you and thank you for your support.

P.D:For those of you that know Mario Corella from Mazunte, I can tell that Balbino saw him and he is fine. I don't know how much his cabanas were damaged.
P.P.D: For my friends in Oaxaca; add chanclas and toilet paper to the list of needs.

Anna Johansson

Dearest friends,

I have now received another phonecall from Balbino. He told me that they need following:
Food and water
Medicines: (Balbino is working in the clinic in Zipolite)
Mebenzole suspension y tabletas
Flagyl 125 mg susp. 250mg y 500 mg en comprimidos
Naproxeno, Clarisit, Analgesicos, Escabisan,
Cream against fungi; Fungoral crema o Micostatin crema
Guantes, Jeringas,
tripple antibiotic cream.
Schampo against lice, combs to take away lice
kotex, diapers (adults and children)
gasoline lamps, cooking utensiles, brooms, rastrillos, matches, candles,
towels, sheets, blankets, clothes, under clothes (ropa interior),
Needles and thread, Soap to wash people and to wash clothes, tooth brushes and toothpaste, shampo, clorox, mosquito nets and MONEY.

The stores in Pochutla are open and the bancautomats are working. The banks are closed. The road inbetween Pochutla and Zipolite is transitable now. Balbino, Flavia and Anna need money (cash or in their personal accounts) in order to pay for transportation, food, thelephone-calls, and to pay for all other expenses. This is urgent, money to the palmgrove have not arrived yet or it will take time until the banks open and we can have access to whatever has arrived. Meanwhile the three of us are using our personal savings and we all have very little left!!

Balbino's account: Banco BANCOMER, # 908937-5, Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Anna's account: Banco INVERLAT, # 50781-4 ,plaza 094, succursal 001, Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Flavia's account: Banco BANAMEX, # 006470 5, succursal 0509, succursal of Matriz Mezzanine in Mexico City, Mexico.

> Anna
> 10/12/97

Queridos amigos,

Ahora he estado en contacto con Balbino que ahora esta trabajando en la clinica de IMSS-COPLAMAR en Zipolite junto con una enfermera de la localidad. (El doctor de la clinica se fue.) El Centro de Atencion Infantil Piña Palmera necesita ser reconstruido. Todas las contrucciones estan daniadas, la carpinteria con todo y maquinas esta completamente destruido. El agua subio mas de un metro y medio. Muchisimas palmas se cayeron, los coches estan destruidos, varias personas que trabaja en Pinia Palmera perdieron sus casas; Maga (tiene 4 hijos), Alva (tiene 5 hijos), Carmela (esta embarazada, esperando su sexto hijo), Benito (tiene 10 hijos), Claudio (tiene 4 hijos), y Araceli (tiene 2 hijos). (No se todavia que paso con las casas de tio Timo, de Alfredo, de Silvia o de Claudia Fuentes.)

Necesitan lo siguiente:
Agua limpia
Mebendazole, suspension y tabletas
Flagyl 125mg suspension, 250mg y 500mg en comprimidos
Amoxicilina, suspension y capsulas
Shampo para piojos (peines de piojos y gorras)
Crema y talco para hongos
Alcohol, gasas, materiales de curacion
Vendas, jeringas, guantes
Crema antibiotica
Medicinas para epilepsia:
Epamin, Depakene, Tegretol, Rivotril
repellente de insectos
pabellones y mosquiteros
paniales de ninios y adultos
purificadores de agua
lamparas de mano
lamparas de gasolina
bidones de gasolina
pasta de dientes, cepillos de dientes, jabon para lavar ropa y para higiene personal,
ropa interior
toallas, sabanas, cobertores y colchonetas
sartenes y ollas de cocina,
escobas, rastrillos, machetes, picos, palas, trapeadores,
generadores de gasolina (que generan electricidad)
hachas y cuchillos
agujas y hilo
comida y ropa

Yo voy para Oaxaca lunes en la noche para llegar alli Martes. Balbino ya mando a Robin y Darrah para alla. Gracias a todos por su ayuda, la gente de Piña estan muy animadas. No necesiten que lleguen mas gente alli ahora, solamente medicos y albaniles. Tampoco quieren materiales de construccion ahora. (No hay adonde guardarlo.)

Nuestras cuentas bancarias son:
INVERLAT, sucursal 001, plaza 094,Pochutla, Oaxaca, # 50258-8
y Banco Bital, Sucursal 0843, Cuenta No. 4006261259,Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Anna Johansson de Cano

Hurricane Paulina Strikes Piña Palmera

I don't know if any of you heard of Pauline, but it was no cliff-hanger. Everyone lost everything. I managed to save my computer and a guitar and some clothes and a shortwave radio. I lost my car, my trailer, my research resource books, my tapes of previous interviews, and a good deal of spirit. But my friends here lost their homes (well I did too in a way, I'm homeless now). But most of the buildings at Piña Palmera as well as nearly all the buildings in Zipolite were destroyed.

It came without, warning, although a couple people later said they knew all about it, but they forgot to inform the people. It started about 12 noon, I was writing email when the power went off, which is not an unusual thing here when it rains. So I shut down the computer and laid down to rest. During the last few weeks, when strong winds came they would blow heavy coconuts through the air and hit my trailer, it worried me at first, because I parked my trailer specifically so I wouldn't be directly underenath them. I did take into account the wind.

Wednesday we had a big wind, gauged at 180 mph/gusts ave 160. I will take an earth quake over a hurricane anyday, at least it does its damage and leaves. This had to escalate and keep you guessing.

I woke up from my nap and went to the cocina for something to eat, while I was there the wind suddenly became violent, There was only me and another swedish volunteer in the cocina, so we scarfed and headed back to our abodes. On my return I discovered a palm tree had blow down and cut through my trailer like a knife - smashing the section where my head was not five minutes before. I packed up some things and headed for one of the other buildings to ride it out; it didn't want to be ridden. It bucked. Hard.

All the buildings with thatched roofs had collapsed and blown away. I was in the special ed building, with solid cement walls and ceiling, but with only mosquito screens for windows. The water blew everywhere in a cold mist, shot from a gun.

The flood came, the water suddenly, in a very few minutes rose over ten feet, We had to stand on tables to get above it, kids and big people were screaming, kids in wheel chairs were in water up to the chests.(the special ed building is built several feet above the surrounding area. But it wasn't high enough. After a bout twenty minutes the water broke through the sea and began to recede. (my trailer survived the hurricane and the palm tree, but the flood filled it like a fish bowl destroying everything inside, all my notes, interview tapes cloths, (I saved my computer by bringing with me to the special ed building and putting it up near the ceiling on a shelf.)

The flash flood left us an island, across the way we could barely see the others in the office, on higher ground. Someone managed to fight their way across fifty yards or so of the brown water (it looked like the scene of the garbage dump in Star Wars, with all the garbage swirling about) Linked garden hoses made a tether so people could begin to be transported across. The water was still up to my chest, I'm 6'2" so that a lot of water when you're carrying kids and trying to keep your balance. As one fellow said, "This is why we have hydrotherapy training!" Luckily we didn't have to use any of our life saving skills.

It's a couple days now since the hurricane. We rode in Humvees a day ago with the army taking all the kids and their families, 65 people signed in, to the hospital where we slept in the hallway, the army feeding everyone.

Now we are trying to repair the special ed building, the only standing building other than the office and a storeroom. There is mud three inches thick covering the floor. All the cabinets with clothes have fallen over, it looks like a bomb was dropped on the place.

My trailer acted as a dam, and became wedged between a tree on one side and debris on the other. My car floated up with the flood and came to rest like the ark on top of a bunch of fallen palm trees.

The roads are broken and all the power lines are down, along with trees blocking access, After a couple of days, people cleared the way, using machetes, no FEMA here or army corps of engineers, everything is done by hand.

After the first few days of people attending to their own destroyed homes, they are beginning to work on the public areas, gathering wood and leaves and anything that will burn. So now smoke fills the air from many different bonfires.

The first night we all went into the nearby remaining homes, twenty to a room where I was, I didn't sleep, couldn't sleep. Not in a chair very well. Now things are getting organized. Gifts of food are arriving. I found the battery in my trailer work, so we have lights in the little house I'm staying at now, which doubles as a storeroom for the incoming supplies.

I'm just trying to give you a brief picture of what this disaster was like. I been through the LA earthquake, a coup in Tchad, but this is the worst. I'm exhausted from all the picking up, cutting away branches with a machete, struggling with a generator that doesn't want to run. A couple eggs, rice and frijoles and a warm beer hit the spot, but it sure would be nice to order out for pizza.

I don't know what I'll do next, I don't really think my trailer is salvageable, the car, who knows? But now I certainly have more to write about, observing how a community-based rehab organization survives a disaster. It a whole new aspect of this study.

The winds gusted up to 200km during the hurricane, estimates are of 200 dead or missing. We didn't lose a single child, although we lost everything else. And watching the community pitch in and rebuild is inspiring. I feel very a much a part, more now than ever. I'll have had some good emergency training and experience now!

But seriously, we are in incredibly bad shape here, food and necessities are coming in, but all our wheelchairs, the computers I wrote about earlier, all the therapy equipment, adaptive devices, everything is gone. So please, if you can assist Piña Palmera, contact the Slade Children Foundation in Wash. DC and they will aid you in helping us. Thanks.

David Kendall Grant, M.S.Ed, Ph.D. Candidate
The Program of International Development/Intercultural Education
School of Education
Department of Educational Policy, Planning and Administration
E-mail: dgrant@scf.usc.edu
URL: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~dgrant
S-Mail: c/o CAI Piña Palmera, Apartado Postal 109, Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico 70900.


Dear friends of Piña Palmera,

thank you for your calls and messages and for your support! Balbino finally called me from Pochutla and I talked to him and to Jim Clouse. Everybody are in good spirits. Help is reaching them and the military is working hard to re-establish the roads. Now it is possible to arrive by car (Small trucks) from Oaxaca and through Salina Cruz. You can also go from Pochutla to Zipolite. Antonio and Regula and Violeta are fine, their house on top of the hill made it but all new constructions are destroyed. Susanna Lopez and her family are fine. The house she rented for her parents is basically OK, the palmroof flew. The Posada is facing mayor destructions too, but parts of it are still liveable. We got news from San Agustinillo that Kjell is doing fine. Now they need: Electrical generators, motorsaws, machetes, shovels, axes, buckets, insect-repellents, candles, matches, and water purifiers. They also need diapers for children and adults.

Jim told me that the waterlevel during the hurricane rose to the windows of the "casa nueva". (The concrete construction where the infirmary and dormitories and therapy room are). Miguel from Australia (friend of Daniel Santos) was one of the persons that helped rescue everybody from the Palmgrove. They used all the life-wests and floating equipment that we usually use at hidrotheraphy. Carrying the people that could not walk (Leticia, Ezuiquio, Malena, Paco, Celestino, Elias, Jose, Alfredo, Felicitas, and Raymundo) they made it all the way to the "agencia" in Zipolite (a concrete structure on top of a small hill)during heavy rains, and there is where the army came to help. How they made it they hardly know themselves, it was terrifying and they were very afraid. Jim was in his house first (he lost his roof) and then he went to the Palmgrove to help rescue people. Some of them were in "casa nueva" and others in the office. All other buildings suffered mayor damages and many palmtrees fell. Now they have arranged a kitchen in Adalbertos and Irenes house and they are cooking food there for everybody in Zipolite. The people with disabilities are in the hospital and the volunteers and staff from Piña Palmera are taking turns caring for them.

Maga and Edel lost their house and so did Martha Cecilica, Alva, Carmela. I don't know about the rest yet.

Thanks again for your help. Students from the Iberoamericana University have promised to come and help with the reconstruction.

Love to you all,
Anna Johansson de Cano

Dear friends,

thank you everybody that have called and send messages. And thank you for your donations, everything helps! Balbino flew to the coast yesterday and I stayed here in Mexico City with little Manuela that now is eight months old. There are still no numbers on how many people died or disappeared in the small communities in the mountains. They still need food, blankets, drinking water and medicines. They also need candles, matches, petroleo, chainsaws, axes, shovels, machetes, flash-lights, batteries, water purifiers, insect repellents, electric generators, and diapers for children and adults. Piña Palmera served as a home for 17 adults, 4 severely disabled, and 16 children, 7 severely disabled. At this time there are 10 volunteers, five of them were living at the Palmgrove. (Two volunteers were in Mexico City during the hurricane). 38 people work at the Palmgrove. Many of them lost their homes. So far I know for sure that Alva, Carmela, Maga and Martha Cecilia lost everything. I don't know about the rest. Adalberto's and Irene's house seem to have made it without mayor damages and they have set up a communal kitchen there where Juana and Irene are cooking for everybody. We have 300 active patients in surrounding communities and we still don't know how their situation is. Many need medication for epilepsy.

If you want to help please send donations to The banks in Pochutla still work. Please send donations to these bancaccounts:

INVERLAT, Pochutla, Oaxaca, # 50258-8 or to
Banco Bital
Sucursal 0843
Cuenta No. 4006261259
Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico

or to
Slade Child Foundation
L'Enfant Plaza
Post Office Box 44246
Washington D.C. 20026
(Please write the cheque out to Slade Child Foundation but add that it is for Piña Palmera and they will send the whole amount to us.)
Tel: (202) 508 3860

Our address is:
C.A.I. Piña Palmera A.C.
Apartado Postal 109
c.p. 70900 Pochutla, Oaxaca, MEXICO
Tel and fax: +52-958-40342

You can read more about the Piña Palmera at http://palmera.webway.se Thanks gain for your support and I will write again as soon as I can.

Anna Johansson de Cano

Pinotepa Nacional

A couple of photos taken after Pauline.

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