Stan Risen, Stanislaus County assistant executive officer, and 20 other adults from First Baptist Church of Modesto are stranded in Mexico because flash floods there last week destroyed bridges, senior pastor Wade Estes said Monday.
The group left Modesto on Jan. 15 for a weeklong work trip to an orphanage called Rancho Santa Marta near the town of San Vicente. The complex provides education and job training for children and teens. First Baptist has been sending teams there for 15 years. The current group was due back in Modesto on Saturday.
"They told us that, normally, they get about 7 to 9 inches of rain a year there," Estes said. "They received that much in a day or two, which caused a major flash flood. It took out a bridge on Highway 1 in Baja. It's a major bridge -- about 400 feet across a ravine, which is usually dry.
"There's another bridge 35 miles south of where they are; that's washed out, too. ... They couldn't even get motorcycles in or out of there."
Estes said the group's medication needs are being met. There's a pharmacy nearby and a pharmacist in the group. The group has plenty of rice and beans to eat.
The storm damaged the orphanage, then brought help to fix it.
"They went into town to get supplies and met a Canadian family with an RV that had an engine that blew," Estes said of the group. "They invited them to go to Rancho Santa Marta and towed their RV out there. The Canadian family is helping out with repairs and getting in on the spiritual focus."
The team sent word late Monday that it hopes to leave early today. The group plans to drive their four-wheel-drive vehicles over the river and tow the other cars across.
If all goes according to plan, they will spend tonight in Southern California and arrive home Wednesday.
An e-mail said about 40 students from California State University, Chico, had been working with a Presbyterian church at an orphanage an hour south of them and likewise were trapped by the floods.
The First Baptist group is maintaining a sense of humor, Estes said. One photo e-mailed to the church showed people holding a sign that read, "Survivor Mexico," a play on the TV reality show.
"They recognize God's in control, and they're going to get out one way or another," Estes said.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at 578-2012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.