Lobbyist Brings Relief to Mexican Hurricane Victims
(Editor’s Note: Rick Lehman is a Sacramento lobbyist. He is a former member of Congress and the state Assembly who represented Fresno. Recently, he helped facilitate the shipment of relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Jimena, which battered Baja California in early September. Lehman and others, particularly in the Bay Area, pulled together supplies and flew them to Loreto where Lehman has a vacation home. The following is his account of the delivery of the first planeload of aid.)
?As I am writing we are flying over the Bahia de Los Angles. It’s so awesomely beautiful I could stare at it all day.?
The flight From Fresno to Loreto took 3 hours and 5 minutes. The Baja coast was truly magnificent on a calm clear morning. It was easy to spot the hurricane zone from 25,000 feet as all of a sudden the brown mountainsides were transformed to a lush green just north of Santa Rosalia.
Rafael was there to meet us at customs and help us unload. He gave us the necessary papers to expedite things at the military checkpoint between Loreto and Muleje: a letter from the mayor and the governor.
Highway 1 is in good shape despite a few places where a raging arroyo has moved the pavement closer to the sea.
It was Sunday afternoon when we arrived in Muleje and there was hardly anyone moving about. The streets were still very dirty. Overturned vehicles littered the area. The Mexican Red Cross has a modest facility just over the bridge as you enter the town. There were several parked emergency vehicles and a couple with their children who were tending the place. The helped us unload and stack our payload in a small room.
We asked them what was needed most and they replied, “Bedding.”
The scene below the bridge was devastating. Most of the structures were battered but still standing. The water damage was enormous.
In houses where you had to step up over three feet of water to get through the front door, the waterline inside was visible 13 feet above the floor. Completely wrecked. The river had to have crested at least 20 feet above the channel.
I am told that Santa Rosalia is worse and I can’t imagine what must have happened in those many mountain hamlets. We were told that most of Puerto San Carlos and Lopez Mateo were wiped out. Ley’s big mercado in Ciudad Constitution is no more.
When 10 Mexicans are killed in a Juarez gunfight it’s all over the media but hardly anyone knows what has happened here.
By contrast, Loreto looks perfectly normal. The streets are sparkly clean and our walkways look like new. Everyone we met was very appreciative of our efforts. Muchos kudos to all who so generously made this mission possible. Especially to Marsha and Chuck who collected and categorized everything even to the amazement of the Mexican authorities; Al and Tanni who let us convert their garage into a relief collection center and the good folks at TCC (The Construction Coach, a Loreto business assisting homebulders).
And, of course, Ed Kashian who supplied the plane and the pilot and is now making plans to ship the rest of our cargo down.
What a great team effort!???
(The airlift was Kashian’s idea. He is a Fresno commercial real estate developer.)
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