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San Mateo del Mar, the Mexican town flooded by the Pacific Ocean

As his name says, St. Matthew belongs to the sea, and he returned to claim his own; the rains that have not stopped for a week have raised the level of the Laguna Quirio, which connects to the south with the Pacific Ocean, and the waters invaded streets and houses.

The septic tanks burst and the sewage mingles with those of the lagoon, which is the food source of this indigenous fishing community in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The village cemetery is totally flooded.

San Mateo del Mar is an ikoot municipality, better known as Huave, and is located on a narrow strip of land that separates an inland lagoon called the Tileme Sea, north of the Gulf of Tehuantepec in the Pacific.

It borders Santa María del Mar, belonging to the municipality of Juchitán. Today, both communities suffer the flood of their homes, or what remained of them after the earthquake of September 7, which punished Oaxaca hard.

The inhabitants of San Mateo are concerned that the water does not descend and, on the contrary, continues to advance through streets and alleys, leaving the sandy floors and debris, slowly sinking houses shaken by the earthquake regardless of whether they are concrete and partition or only of adobe with roofs of palm.

Benito Padrón, a fishing leader who has been living in this area for more than 35 years, assured Efe that the fishermen are very worried and fear for what may happen later.

“The sea has advanced more than 150 meters, has flooded many houses, septic tanks burst and many graves are in the middle of the water, we no longer have beach and the shrimp is all contaminated, now it is a danger to consume it,” he says. observes that the water already begins to enter his house, in the north of the town.

“Everything is water, if it is still raining we do not know what can happen,” he adds.
In turn, the fisherman Mariano San Martín, originally from Santa Cruz, questions annoyingly why people are afraid of the water that gets into their homes. “What do not they know it’s always been like this?” He says.

“That is why the Zapotec people put us huaves, which means ‘rotten mud.’ We have always lived in the mud, in the water,” San Martin says to Efe, although Padrón says he does not remember a similar situation in more than 20 years.

Here more than 50 houses were flooded by the tropical depression that affects the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Houses with only 20 centimeters of water but others above the meter. The few belongings that were saved from the earthquake now float on the water: clothes, household goods, some furniture.

An inhabitant of San Mateo del Mar, in the state of Oaxaca (Mexico), is seen on a raft, Tuesday, October 3, 2017, in a flooded road due to cracks provoked on the ground by the earthquake of September 7 which caused the water to sprout on dry soil flooding the dwellings. EFE

Ana María Sánchez Monroy regrets that despite being in the middle of the rain people do not want to go to the shelters. “They are afraid that their things will be stolen, they sleep in the streets or inside their houses among the dirty water, on cots, walk and cook in the middle of the water, they say that the level will soon be lowered,” he says.

All sections of San Mateo del Mar are affected, some more than others.
The beach disappeared, the clay ovens where the tortillas are baked are softened by water, there is no electric light in several areas and there are health problems in the population.

The municipal health center and elementary school are flooded.
Although the Secretary of Health of Oaxaca Celestino Alonso Álvarez announced the beginning of preventive actions against dengue, chikungunya and gastrointestinal diseases, Sanchez says that the state of health of the inhabitants is worrisome because “there are already outbreaks of dengue and the brigades just passed fast because there are many communities with equal problems and there is no sanitary fence. ”

And in fact, in similar circumstances live inhabitants of the towns of San Pablo, Juárez, Pacific, Cuauhtémoc, Huazantlán and even worse Santa Maria del Mar, also surrounded by water and only humanitarian boats can reach in humanitarian boats.

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