Last Tuesday, we had this safety drill, the same way we do every year on 19th September, anniversary of the 1985 quake. It was at 11 am across the whole city. But, at that time, a lot of people took it as a nuisance. I was at college and didn’t bother to go to the safety points. Lots of people were complaining about lost classes, or just fooling around. And then 2 hours later, it started trembling. We were still joking about it when the real one hit. Like, bad. You couldn’t even walk straight.
A 26-year old Mexican citizen, Launian, apprised and filled in about the horrendous and calamitous earthquake that hit the state of Pubela, somewhat 150 kms apart from Mexico City.
On 19th September, 1985, an earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City around 7:17 am. On 19th September, 2017, another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 struck the state of Pubela, after 32 years with 6 hours apart, around 1:14 pm. They have this safety drill all over the City every year to commemorate the ’85 quake and it happened a couple hours later after the drill in his college.
Talking about the appalling and horrifying scenes and expressing his feelings he said:
Most of my friends and myself grew up with stories of the ’85 quake, seeing pictures of the devastation. Buildings I’ve known my whole life are gone, just like that. I went there to help on Tuesday night, and even though all I did was help to clear the rubble, it was such a strong experience. At one point, the human chain passed down a drum for us to throw to the garbage truck and I kept wondering, who used to play that drum? Were they good? Did they play rock? Punk? Have they even thought about their drums? Are they even still alive?
Two major earthquakes struck Mexico in just one month. The other one was on 8th September with a magnitude of 8.1. The Capital is specially at risk of major earthquakes due to its location. Because of the soft and wet ground underneath, Mexico City is too vulnerable to earthquakes. Its soil is prone to liquefaction, which is the ability to transform dirt into a dense liquid when sufficiently churned, wrote a seismologist of the Southern California Earthquake Center. In the opinion of Behzaid Fatahi, associate professor of geotechnical and earthquake engineering at the University of Technology Sydney, earthquakes start so deep in the ground and move so fast – 50 times faster than a category 5 hurricane – so it’s almost impossible to issue a warning well in advance.
No wonder it was a shocking a moment for everyone but the best part was how people actually came forward to volunteer and help. They were flocking down the streets, just looking for something to do, something to help with. According to Launian a couple hours after the quake they were already turning down volunteers because there were too many of them and trucks with food and cloths and healing items that the traffic had collapsed.
They have all heard and read about the ’85 quake about how people rallied together on their own, went out to the streets and organized themselves to help because they government hadn’t reacted for days. Seeing it all themselves was just so different, kids and old people all helping equally. An old man dropping a couple of bags of sugar on a donation table.
Launian is now with his family but he is still worried. They are all worried, tensed, tired and scared. Almost is everyone is with their families now with high hopes and aspiration trying to do what they can, where they can and when they can.
A picture, that was taken last night showing human chains passing down donations from the storage area to the trucks depicts that no matter who we are, who we belong to, what our race is, what language do we speak, we all are humans and humanity and chivalry is not dead yet.
While departing he left us all a message:
And, a word of advice from someone who never thought would live in a disaster zone? Grab your phone and tell people you love them. If you fought with a friend, or your parents. Call them and tell them you love them, even if you don’t solve things. When you are waiting with your phone in your hand, without signal, without landlines, without electricity, just for a sign that they are ok, that’s when you realize we don’t say “I love you” enough. I know it’s cheesy, but damn me to all hells if it isn’t true.