Cards help earthquake victims

Posted by Darren Urban on April 20, 2010 – 11:36 am

Draft topics swirl, but a pair of Cardinals employees that hail from Mexico have some other things on their minds.

Luis Zendejas, the senior director of community relations, and Rolando Cantu, manager of international business ventures, went on a mercy mission of sorts recently to San Luis, a remote Mexican farming community near Mexicali – and an area brutally ravaged by the earthquake on Easter Sunday.

The area, responsible for 30 percent of Mexico’s wheat production, found itself flooded and ripped apart by the 7.2 quake. Cantu said there had been about 900 smaller earthquakes registered in the week before the large one hit. When the big one did arrive, it burst the natural water wells and irrigation ditches, not only ruining the crops but setting the area back years. “There’s no way this area can be fixed in the next seven to 10 years,” Cantu said.

Some 1,400 people – mainly women, children and the elderly – found their way to a nearby mountaintop plateau where makeshift tents serve as housing. Cantu said the spot is so remote even the Mexican government doesn’t know the extent of the problem (he learned about it through a friend who works in the Mexican agricultural business).

“I wanted to open up some eyes, even on the Mexican side,” Zendejas said.

The two drove to the spot and delivered blankets and Cardinals gear for the displaced residents. They gave out Gatorade and basic necessities – paper plates, plastic utensils, toilet paper – that is so hard to get. Zendejas said a set of paper plates for nine people will last two to three months, because the Mexicans will use some plastic over the top while eating to save the plates.

“These people were grateful we showed up,” Cantu said. “I wish more organizations would show up. In essence, we are three-and-a-half hours from another Little Haiti and people don’t know that.”

Cantu felt the earthquake first-hand. He was at his in-laws’ house in Mexicali on Easter. “I think it lasted 14 or 15 seconds and three of those seconds were really getting out of hand,” Cantu said. “You don’t know the sounds things make when they are moving and that’s what gets to you. You take things for granted. Whatever you work for, in two or three seconds it could be demolished.”

Cantu’s family was OK. But 50 miles away, the people of San Luis weren’t, and at that point, Cantu didn’t even know about them.

“Right now, it’s a big help for them,” Cantu said.

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