The Salvation Army Responds to Hurricane Otis in Acapulco, Mexico
Hurricane Otis wind speeds topped out at 165 mph (270km/h) and made landfall just west of Acapulco. The category 5 storm was initially forecast to be a weak tropical storm at its peak intensity, but underwent an intense transformation just before landfall. The storm caused landslides and flooding due to heavy rains. The force of windspeeds also caused severe damage to Acapulco and surrounding areas. Communication, transportation and energy infrastructure were heavily damaged due to the storm. In the aftermath of the hurricane, Acapulco and surrounding areas were left with no drinking water, no power, heavy damage to transportation infrastructure, and a lack of food supplies. The government mobilized thousands of military staff to aid survivors with recovery efforts and to maintain law and order. The total damage from Otis is estimated to be in the billions of dollars (2023 USD). Over 100 people died or have been reported missing as a result of the storm.
HOW DID THIS STORM AFFECT THE SALVATION ARMY?
Our children’s boarding school in Acapulco, Mexico was severely damaged by the storm, but no serious injuries were sustained by staff or residents. Our response efforts were first mobilized to assist our children’s home. Because we have a long-term investment in the places where we serve we were among the first to respond, and we will remain a presence in rebuilding lives and homes.
HOW ARE WE RESPONDING TO THIS HURRICANE LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY?
Initial efforts included clean-up, removal of debris and material from our Children’s School. We then began distributing water and other basic supplies from our mobile canteen immediately post-landfall. Some cleaning supplies were also distributed. We were then invited to add our expertise to the disaster response coordination taskforce, at the Mexican Naval Base in Acapulco. During this meeting The Salvation Army was tasked with providing food and water to the state emergency services personnel and other first responders serving on the front lines of the immediate response. We have expanded our meal distribution beyond our Children’s boarding school and our mobile canteen, as well as to emergency personnel at the command center. We are providing hope and emotional and spiritual care to those impacted, which is one of our core services. In the short-term we will continue to provide life-sustaining humanitarian aid. Our other response teams in Mexico are joining the response along with response teams from the USA and from our International Emergency Services leadership. Our teams are also helping in the post-hurricane clean-up.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES OUR RESPONSE TEAMS ARE FACING?
Heavy damage to communication, transportation and energy infrastructure has made the operational nature of our response more difficult.
HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP?
The best way to help is to make a financial contribution, this allows us to respond cost-effectively. Donations to our immediate response, along with funds to assist in the re-building of our school are critically important.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF MY GIFTS ACTUALLY GO TOWARD THE RESPONSE?
100% of gifts through SAWSO go toward the response. You can also chose to support the immediate response, or the rebuild of our children’s home (by communicating your intent through our donation comments box) when you make your gift.
HOW CAN I GIVE
Donations can be made online, by phone (call 1-800-725-2769), by check (please send checks to the ‘Hurricane Otis Response Fund’, along with any instructions, ((i.e. To be used in re-building the Acapulco Childrens Boarding School) to: The Salvation Army World Service Office, 615 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, VA 22314)). You can also make stock or securities transfers, workplace matching gifts, and gifts through your donor advised fund.