Disasters in Mexico September 2017

Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month?  The motto is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”  I’m a little underwhelmed with that statement.  In general, the idea is that you, as an American (because only Americans are prepared), should take the month of September and review your overall preparedness for a variety of disaster scenarios.  The government has even so kindly provided a calendar to help you freak out all year round–oh I mean think constructively about your action plan during a disaster throughout the year, not freak out.

Hysterical Prepping aside, I do believe there are some simple safety precautions everyone (not just Americans) should take when faced with the threat of a disaster.  I’ve mentioned a number in my A to Z Surviving the Apocalypse series published earlier this year. (See Surviving a Windstorm, Surviving global Climate Change, Surviving a Quake)

Be that as it may, there are some situations that are totally unexpected or the severity of the disaster is woefully underestimated.  Mexico was hit by several of these this month and the month isn’t even over yet.

Beginning with Tropical Storm Lidia on September 1 which resulted in 7 deaths when it made landfall in Baja California Sur.  Two of the deaths were a result of electrocution from downed power lines.  Two deaths were drownings, one a woman who was swept down a flooded street and a baby who was wrenched from its mother’s arms while crossing a flooded area. Rains from the tropical storm caused havoc as far inland as Mexico City where flooding caused a 33 ft wide, 23 ft deep sinkhole and the collapse of El Angulo dam.

Then on September 8, Mexico and Guatemala experienced the most powerful earthquake in a century, measured at a magnitude of 8.2.  To date, there are at least 90 reported deaths as a result of the earthquake in Mexico.  In Tabasco, two children were killed, one when a wall collapsed and the other after the hospital lost power and the child’s respirator stopped.  Oaxaca, specifically the area of Juchitán, was the hardest hit. 

“It is a nightmare we weren’t prepared for,” said a member of the City Council, Pamela Teran, in an interview with a local radio station. She estimated that 20 to 30 percent of the houses in the city were destroyed.“A lot of people have lost everything, and it just breaks your heart,” she added, bursting into tears. (Mexico Earthquake, Strongest in a Century, Kills Dozens)

As a result of the earthquake, a tsunami warning was issued for the coasts of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Over the next several days, the already devastated area was hit was multiple aftershocks, with at least 6 measuring above a 5.0 in magnitude.

Also on September 8, Hurricane Katia made landfall near Tecolutla, Veracruz. A state of emergency was declared in 40 municipalities in the area due to heavy flooding and mudslides.

On September 14, Hurricane Max made landfall in Guerrero, near Acapulco, sinking 6 ships off the coast, destroying more than 1,500 homes and causing major flooding and deadly mudslides.

On September 18, Tropical Storm Norma caused dangerous ocean conditions off the coast of Cabo San Lucas.  Meanwhile, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Washington (VAAC) has issued an ash advisory indicating current volcanic activity in the volcano Popocatepetl, near Mexico City.  Later, one explosion and 256 “low-intensity exhalations” between Tuesday and Wednesday were registered. A church in Atzitzihuacan at the foot of the mountain collapsed during the quake and eruption, killing 15 worshippers as they celebrated Mass inside.

On September 19, on the anniversary of the deadly 1985 earthquake, Mexico City experienced an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale.  More than 200 confirmed deaths as of September 21 with desperate rescue attempts ongoing.  One of the hundreds of buildings that collapsed was an elementary school. Thirty children are still missing and hope is dwindling.

On September 23, an aftershock measuring 6.1 was registered in Lázaro CárdenasOaxacaMexico while another measuring 5.8 occurred in San LuqueñoChiapasMexico.  Rescue attempts were suspended as already damaged buildings collapsed in Mexico City.

Thousands and thousands of families have lost everything this month in Mexico.  Reportedly 300,000 homes were damaged or completely destroyed as a result of the earthquake on September 8.  No definite number of homes destroyed by hurricanes or subsequent earthquakes.

Map of damaged and destroyed buildings in Mexico City after the September 19, 2017 earthquake.

How can you help?  Fabiola Blogger at My Heart of Mexico lists the following donation sites:

Donate to Oxfam Mexico

Donate to Unicef Mexico Earthquake Victims

Donate to Save the Children Mexico

Donate to Global Giving Mexico Earthquake and Hurricane Relief Fund

If you know of any others, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

There is every indication that this sort of climatic devastation will not only continue but get worse. (See also 100 million will die by 2030 if world fails to act on climate: report, Climate change and health, NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections) I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but maybe, just maybe it’s time to build your ark or head for the hills.


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