In the past month, Mexico has been struck by multiple natural disasters. A pair of earthquakes has devastated two regions within the country, resulting in unprecedented damage and destruction. The pair of earthquakes which occurred in Mexico last month – one on September 7th in Chiapas, and more recently on September 19th near Mexico City – have claimed hundreds of lives. Damage from the earthquake has been found in some 2,000 buildings, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, and the LA Times. Further illustrating the amount of devastation the September 19th earthquake caused, The New York Times notes that some 150,000 homes have been damaged to some degree.
In spite of the pair of earthquakes, and even among fears of other potential natural disasters, the focus for millions in Mexico has shifted to that of recovery and rescue. A large part of the ongoing recovery and rescue efforts, humanitarian and international aid groups have served pivotal roles in saving lives. In short, the humanitarian response to the earthquake has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Within Mexico, relief efforts from within the nation are being led by both governmental and non-governmental entities. CNN reports that Los Topos (The Moles), along with The Mexican Navy and The Naval Infantry Force (Mexico’s Marine corps) are all assisting in hopes of finding and rescuing survivors. Showing their dedication to finding citizens as soon as possible, members of Los Topos arrived onto streets in under an hour. Los Topos, an organization of volunteers who have garnered international acclaim for their rescue efforts, have also assisted in recovery efforts in previous earthquakes. To properly conduct their rescue efforts, USA Today states that volunteers have relied on conventional and non-conventional means of informing citizens. While hundreds if not thousands of citizens and volunteers continue to search for their families by foot, social media websites have been frequented and utilized. Sites such as Google and Twitter, serving as virtual gathering stations, have facilitated the process of not only volunteers but also of city and government officials.
Although there are thousands of people who remain unaccounted for, particularly in areas where transportation infrastructure is insufficient, relief continues to arrive. To illustrate, NPR reports that aid has arrived from humanitarian groups from over 40 countries, which have saved at least 70 people as a result of their efforts. These groups have targeted the demographics most impacted by the location of the earthquakes: the elderly and the poor. In addition, the manners in which people are being aided and rescued may be assisting the goal of saving more lives. Even though most of the efforts on behalf of Los Topos and Mexican government groups have occurred successfully, there have been setbacks regarding how other groups have attempted the same efforts. An additional setback may be the efforts post-rescue and during the recovery process, when citizens will behold the scope of the earthquake’s damage.
As Mexico, along with the rest of the world, continues to observe and respond to the damage sustained in the earthquakes, the reality of the situations will only grow direr. Despite the process of recovery and rescue having commenced, the road to full recovery will certainly take months or years. The damage sustained to churches, office buildings, and schools, for example, may take years to fully rebuild. Even the Mexican economy may face a temporary impairment which may prolong to an event taking years to mitigate negative effects. This may be associated with the lack of economic activity which has led a decrease in the region’s annual projected economic growth. The responses to the pair of earthquakes will test many, however, the region has displayed that it is more than capable of recovering and reemerging stronger than ever in times of natural disasters.