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After floods, Mexico's Tabasco rebounds

Government response has been praised, but the poorest are still looking for work or new homes.

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At first Socorro Osorio considered herself fortunate. When the flooding put nearly 70 percent of the state of Tabasco under water last November, many had no workplace the next morning. In her case, the home where she labored as a cleaning lady survived the flood.

But the single mother says she couldn't leave her three young children alone in their flooded home. Her employers found a new cleaner. "I'm trying hard to find something else, to bring food to my kids, but it's not easy," says Ms. Osorio.

Three months after one of Mexico's worst natural disasters hit this petroleum-rich state in southern Mexico, signs of normalcy abound. The roads are navigable, the debris is cleared. Of 158,656 people once living in shelters, only a fraction remain homeless. Last week, the last food supplies were distributed by the state. New homes are on the rise, and of the 10,000 companies that were forced to temporarily shut down, many have been renovated and reopened.

But many of those in the informal economy, like Osorio, are still looking for work. All interviewed say they are grateful for their health and survival, but it's a long road to full recovery.

"Our biggest challenge is reconstruction," says Rúrico Domínguez, director of the state's civil protection agency. The government predicts rebuilding will take three years and cost $650 million.

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