Hurricane Patricia is heading towards the west coast of Mexico with 200-mph sustained winds, making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that the Category 5 storm could produce catastrophic landfall in southwestern Mexico later today, bringing massive destruction along the Mexican Pacific coast, including populated areas such as Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.
Flights to Puerto Vallarta were canceled earlier today and the Mexican government is expected to evacuate some 50,000 people ahead of the hurricane, which many are comparing to Typhoon Haiyan. That storm displaced 4 million people and left more than 6,000 dead.
Of particular concern is the area surrounding the Volcano of Fire in Colima. Authorities fear ash that accumulated during recent volcanic activity could combine with water to produce landslides.
Catholic Relief Services has emergency staff on the way to Mexico to help our Caritas Mexico partners assess the needs and provide assistance.
“Our Caritas partners are helping families seek shelter and secure their homes in the face of this massive hurricane,” said Cecilia Suarez, CRS program manager in Mexico. “They are especially concerned about the areas inland which are sometimes slower to receive help.”
CRS has worked with Caritas Mexico for more than 70 years, providing disaster assistance and other types of humanitarian aid. Last year, after Hurricane Odile Battered Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, CRS provided shelter repair and cash grants to 700 families via prepaid cards, which they used for goods and services at local shops. This helped local vendors get back in business and injected cash into disaster-stricken economies.
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A prayer for the people of Mexico
Our shelter, our bulwark, our highest ground
For those threatened by Hurricane Patricia
Lord of Earth and Sea,
When a storm rose upon the waters
The disciples cried out in great fear.
But in you they found safety.
In you they found calm.
In you they found help:
Their shelter, their bulwark,
their highest ground.
Now, even as a great storm threatens our
brothers and sisters in Mexico
We know that you are greater still—
Mightier than the swiftest wind
More omnipotent than the crashing waves.
You are as you have ever been:
Our shelter, our bulwark, our highest ground.