Post-Quake Tent Cities to Close in Baja

By Steven Luke
|  Monday, May 24, 2010  |  Updated 9:21 PM PDT
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Images: Quake Damage in the U.S.

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Post-Quake Tent Cities to Close

As the Mexican government closes down tent cities, the medicine supplied by volunteer doctors, power, portable bathrooms, and water about to disappear as well.
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An area dealing with April’s destructive quake is just an hour drive from the San Diego County line but aide workers say the town and its people are now seeing very little help coming from the U.S., especially in light of the out pouring of support for Haiti.

Seven weeks after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattled San Diego, El Centro and northern Baja on Easter Sunday, the Mexican government is about to close camps in a town considered the ground zero of destruction.

The medicine supplied by volunteer doctors, power, portable bathrooms and water about to disappear as well.

One tent city, erected on a dirt baseball diamond and run by Mexico’s federal government, is a place where families have been living since the quake struck on Easter Sunday.

Patricia Lopez lost virtually everything. The concrete slab in her home cracked, the floor opened up and water gushed from the ground.

"Something really strong shook, we were falling on the floor,” she said. “I fell four times."

Within minutes the water was waist high. Her walls are marked by mold.

With the flooding came disease, herpes, skin rashes and diarrhea. The water in a nearby canal is now bright green and trees that once were green, are rapidly dying.

Manuel Martinez and Alfonso Sanchez are humanitarian workers working in Zakomoto, a ghost town of a hundred homes red tagged following the quake.

They say the real problem is the toxic ground water made up of sulfuric acid and pesticides that came up during the earthquake flooding the town. The government says the ground water is not safe for the kids, according to Martinez and Sanchez.

One woman said she’ll leave the camp because she sees it as the lesser of two evils.

“They're telling the families if they don't move somewhere else that they're going to take away their kids," the woman said.

Once the camps close, most families are hoping for a plot of land nearby but not in the area considered toxic.

Until they get word from the Mexican government, something that they say hasn't happened, the families will be in the dark about their future and in tents for what's likely to be many more days to come.

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