Last September 19, Mexico faced the strongest earthquake since 100 years. Even Mexico City, was on a certain extend prepared and had experience with this kind of natural disasters. Sadly 337 causalities* were counted and heavy infrastructure damages occurred, leaving thousands of people without a house.
Amazingly, the earthquake took place exactly the same day than 32 year ago, where more than 6,500 people died. Also similar than in 1985, it was in the city central areas were buildings collapsed. Though, thanks to implemented new building regulations the sky keepers at Paseo de la Reforma (main financial street) resisted bravely.
Back in 1985, I was a primary school student in a catholic school in Mexico City, during the earthquake I was instructed to bend on my knees and pray. Today, Mexicans knows very well what are the steps to follow during an earthquake and test alarms are run frequently so people is sensitize and ready to act. Ironical, short before the Sep.19, 2017 earthquake happens; several schools and institutions were practicing an emergency test to commemorate the earthquake from 1985.
Historically seen and during the Aztec period, Mexico City was built over a lake, the Lago de Texcoco. Aztecs built an artificial island by dumping soil into the lagoon. Geologically thinking, this can be one of the reasons why these areas were mostly damaged, as soil sinks each year since then while water is pumped to satisfy the 9 Million inhabitants in the city’s center (21 Mio inhabitants including metropolitan area).
Even though, Mexico turned during the last months in an unsafe city, whereas citizen could not trust any person ringing at their door, or talking to them in a parking house. During the disaster Mexicans were ready to help each other again and look direct to the faces of strangers. The best of part of each Mexican revive. To help without been asked.
We Mexicans are by nature a helpful culture, tourist appreciate the warm and readiness of the Mexican people experience while travelling, but the promptness to help without further thinking is indeed a part of us. And this valuable quality simple shinned during the last days.
I was amazed to observe that different non-profitable organizations or private people coordinated themselves efficiently and extremely fast. Social Media channels allowed people to communicate and to identify where it was needed to provide help for example:
- to bring equipment
- to bring food for helpers
- to avoid traffic areas
- to coordinate motorcycles to drive medical assistance
- to go to rescue people under the destroyed building
- to connect lost people -improvised list of rescued people or pictures of people rescued, they were all efficiently published in social media faster than the official media
- to offer free places to sleep- people offered their empty apartments for people without a place to live
- to charge your phone or get access to WIFI
Everyone was creative and helpful. Even the poorest people felt they can help and they were ready to give what they have, to help the others under their own capabilities so that the others can help in others. This flow of helping… to stand up again and to show the world that Mexicans are not delinquents and lazy people as Mr. Trump framed; made the world look again to Mexico as the country it is. And made all the Mexicans (also abroad) to be proud of being Mexicans.