El Limon: A Fighting Community Gets Back on its Feet after Tropical Storm Noel
El Limón, San José de Ocoa.- ‘We were sleeping, and I was really scared when I woke up at midnight and I saw my house was completely flooded. My dad was making holes in every corner to keep the water away’. These are the words of Eddy M. Valdéz Presinal, age 13, who remembers the damages caused by Tropical Storm Noel with a faint smile and a downcast look.Eddy, the eldest of three brothers, lives with his parents in El Limon, in the province of San Jose de Ocoa. He is in 7th grade and likes using the computer and the Internet.
El Limon is located 5 km away from the main route to Ocoa, the Padre Billini road. However, it is difficult to believe that many kilometres away, high up in the hills, there is an entire town whose sustainability depends on agriculture and whose main worry today is not knowing how they are going to make a living after their crops were devastated by the “cyclone”.
“Cyclone” and “hurricane” is how the local people refer to Tropical Storm Noel, which has all but cut them off from the rest of the country.
Although one of the trucks was not able to reach the community due to poor access, this did not prove an obstacle for PPD (Small Subsidies Programme), UNDP or UNICEF staff. When they arrived at the site, they were met with grateful smiles from the local villagers while distributing 60 hygiene and nutrition kits for children under the age of five.
In El Limón there are 76 families and a total of 90 children and adolescents. Each one has to choose between risking their lives by using the damaged road that takes them to Ocoa, or dying without the chance to receive appropriate health services, as well as other problems in this remote town.
Considering the difficulties that affect this town, its villagers do realize that they must go on. Men and women are looking for solutions to their current problems. This is why they have decided to form their own ‘Emergency Operations Committee’ to overcome the problems that they are experiencing in the aftermath of the storm. They have also managed to learn to use information technology without the support of Indotel.
‘We have had to do several things in the last few days, now that the governor has forgotten us. But we have a community with needs, so we have decided to work together towards a common goal and not wait for the authorities to help us’, says Alberto Presinal Mateo, the Mayor.
People from El Limon have tried to repair the access to a nearby bridge, women are starting to make orange preserves in order to earn an income until they recover their crops, and men are harvesting the last few tomatoes that survived the storm.
Despite what they have endured, the people of El Limon are not standing by helplessly on the sidelines: they are taking action and repairing the damage.
by: Loreta Acevedo
El Limon is located 5 km away from the main road to San Jose de Ocoa. 80 per cent of the houses have been affected by the storm, and about 10 houses have been completely destroyed. 90 per cent of the tomatoes, oranges, avocados and other vegetables have been lost. There is an internet centre with four computers that have been installed with private resources.