In September 2017, Hurricane Irma quickly became the strongest recorded Atlantic hurricane ever, with wind speed - and consequential destruction - rivaling that of a tornado. As it pummeled Caribbean islands, many communities were so damaged that they had to completely evacuate, as in the case of Barbuda. Only a few weeks later, Hurricane Maria followed Irma's path, knocking out power and road access to many parts of Puerto Rico.
During the same month, two earthquakes devastated the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and then in the Mexico City area. The two earthquakes reduced dozens of buildings to piles of rubble and damaged countless others. The first, which struck the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, was Mexico's strongest earthquake in a century, with powerful aftershocks that were felt for days.
PADF has been orchestrating strategic disaster response since its conception in 1962. We have responded to over 70 of the hemisphere's worst disasters in the last 50+ years. When determining our response to these disasters, we take a number of different criteria into account: How can PADF best serve the most vulnerable affected individuals and communities? Will the solution be sustainable and practical? What practices can we employ that will help communities become more resilient than before the disaster, thereby reducing their risk for future disasters?
Juchitán, Mexico. After an initial assessment of the earthquake's damage, we are supporting Centro de Atención Múltiple No.8 (C.A.M. No.8) in Juchitán with our reconstruction effort. C.A.M. No.8 is a school that serves students with disabilities and has been instrumental in raising awareness to the need of inclusion of these disadvantaged students in society. Certain damaged areas of the school are at higher risk of crumbling and must be replaced. PADF is helping the school with demolition of damaged infrastructure, replacing water tanks, repairing utilities and, most importantly, rebuilding the main classrooms and therapy room. Our focus is helping to restore normal routines for the students, thereby keeping them in school and advancing their education.
Mexico City area, Mexico. The PepsiCo Foundation has donated $500,000 to be used in the Mexico City area, which has a metro population of over 21 million. PADF has conducted on-the-ground assessments of the damage. We will keep all stakeholders informed as the ground assessment informs our response.
Puerto Rico. PADF has focused on Puerto Rico as a geographic for intervention, given its long list of complex post-disaster needs. In Puerto Rico, we are working with local and international stakeholders to identify our area of intervention. The PepsiCo Foundation has also supported the disaster response in Puerto Rico by donating $500,000 to be pooled with individual contributions.
We will post updates as recovery efforts develop in each of these areas. Thank you again for your donation and for supporting post-crisis communities. With your help, we will support the most vulnerable people in these areas, seeking to make their communities safer and more disaster resilient than ever.