Rain and dam discharge cause flooding in southern Mexico

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico (AFP) – Torrential rain from Hurricane Eta and water discharged from a dam that reached capacity meant continued flooding in parts of the southern Mexican state of Tabasco.

At least six regions, including Centro, where the state capital of Villahermosa is located, were severely affected, with around 12,000 people forced to take refuge in shelters.

“What we want most is food and sustenance,” cried a man who watched the flood from the second floor of his home.

Local authorities reported eight deaths in recent days, and 150,000 affected by rivers that overflowed their banks when Eta arrived from the Caribbean, inundating Central America and southern Mexico with rain.

And on top of that, two towns were flooded when the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) released water from the Penitas dam, which reached its maximum capacity.

Locals in hard-hit area Macusapana told AFP water levels exceeded buildings’ first floors.

“There are people who do not even have clothes. I left everything, it was a tremendous thing,” said Macusapana resident Teresa Cordoba, who had to abandon her house. “We do not have anybody’s help here, we are abandoned.”

Residents were seen resorting to canoes – some improvised – to check up on their houses or loved ones.

Many flood victims retreated to the upper levels of their houses, preferring to stay home for fear of looting or encountering Covid-19 in shelters.

The government of Tabasco, a coastal state that has also seen flooding in previous years, has threatened to sue the CFE for damage caused by the dam overflow.

Authorities in neighbouring Chiapas state reported the deaths of at least 20 people due to heavy rains and flooding last week.