On September 19, 1985, at 7:17 am, The Pacific and Cocos tectonic plates crashed in the Southern part of Mexico, unleashing a force equivalent to 114 Atomic bombs. In just two minutes of duration, the resulting 8.0 Earthquake produced one of the largest tragedies of our country. More than 10,000 deaths, 50,000 injured, the collapse of 412 buildings.
One would think that nothing good can come up from an event like this. However, in the aftermath of the tragedy Mexicans got closer by helping each other. People ran to rescue people trapped in the debris of collapsed buildings. Others gathered provisions and prepared food to feed the hungry and opened their houses to the thousands who lost their homes. Regulations were put in place to build structures capable of withstanding earthquakes. Even a specialized search and rescue team self-denominated "Los Topos" (The Moles) was created and has provided help internationally.
32 years later, on the exact same date, Central Mexico was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. A more prepared population with evacuation procedures in place was able to get out of buildings faster. However, not everyone was lucky enough to escape. 38 collapsed buildings took the lives of at least 300, driving the death toll to more than 400 after the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the coast of Oaxaca only a week before.
The reaction of the Mexican people was similar as in 1985, but with better tools. “Los Topos” went to work to rescue those trapped in collapsed buildings. Those with motorcycles delivered provisions to carry out relief efforts day and night. Many makeshift shelters were opened around the city to host those who lost it all.
Technology and social networks played a vital role in the rescue efforts, with people communicating with their loved ones without saturating cellular networks, informing the community of how they could help, and even victims reporting their whereabouts in the debris.
The community at the University of Chicago swiftly started a fundraiser to send support for the relief of both earthquakes. With the assistance of the school, a table was set at Booth during the student group fair to inform incoming students about how they could help. The organizers of the MBA Mexico event from Booth and Kellogg reached out to other MBA programs to coordinate aid efforts, and agreed to donate half of the money collected from new tickets sales after the earthquakes.
Even though a significant amount of help has been received, the hardest part is yet to come. The effects of the quake will prevail for the following years. As people go back to their normal lives, there will be a void of resources to continue with the reconstruction of the country. If you are interested in helping, please contact anyone from our Mexican community at Booth for advice on how to help and consider donating directly to the Mexican Red Cross at: https://cruzrojadonaciones.org/
Thank you all for your support.