Tag Archives: disasters in Mexico

Prepping in Mexico–Mud and Land Slides

A rock landslide in Guerrero, Mexico August 1989. 

Several states in Mexico are considered high-risk areas for potential mud or landslides. Being classified as high risk means the rainfall patterns, steep terrain slopes, reduced vegetation cover, poor soil quality and earthquake, hurricane, or volcanic activity combine to make the area dangerous. 

Between 1925 and 2017, there were 1,967 recorded landslides throughout Mexico which resulted in at least 3,447 deaths. Most were caused by excessive rainfall in the areas. The majority were in central and southern Mexico, including the states of Hidalgo, Mexico, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz. 

  • In 1920, a debris flow from the Rio Huitzilapan triggered by a 6.5 earthquake killed between 600 and 870 people in the village of Barranca Grande.
  • October 1, 1976, a landslide in La Paz, Baja California claimed at least 1,000 lives after Hurricane Liza hit the area. 
  • October 7, 1999, more than 210 people were killed and tens of thousands forced to evacuate after weeks of torrential rains.  In the town of Mixun which is about 100 miles northeast of Mexico City, as many as 40 people were buried in a landslide including 17 schoolchildren and their teacher. In the nearby town of Teziutlan, 26 people were killed after a hillside mudslide buried an entire neighborhood. More than 166 people were killed in the state of Puebla, 50 in Veracruz as well as numerous fatalities in Chiapas, Tabasco, and Hidalgo. 
  • In 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused underwater mudslides that destroyed an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico spilling 700 barrels of oil per day for 15 years. 
  • September 17, 2013, Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel caused buildings to collapse in Veracruz killing at least 12 people and forcing more than 20,000 to evacuate.
  • August 8, 2016, Hurricane Earl caused mudslides that buried homes in Huauchinango, Puebla killing 25, while mudslides in Veracruz caused the death of 11 more.
  • July 10, 2019, a mudslide destroyed a home in Santo Tomas Chautla village, located near the city of Puebla. The family was celebrating a graduation. Three adults and four children were killed, while two other children were severely injured. 
  • September 28, 2019, Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca 11 people went missing after a mudslide. 

Landslides occur when masses of earth, rock or debris move down a slope. Debris flows and mudslides are flowing rivers of earth, rock, and debris. They develop during periods of intense rainfall or runoff, flow more rapidly than a person can run, and strike with little or no warning. They grow in size as they accumulate boulders, trees, and buildings and can travel miles. They don’t always stream directly down but can flow sideways as well. 

Mudslides are more likely to happen in areas

  • That they have happened before
  • Where wildfires have destroyed vegetation
  • At the bottom of slopes or canyons
  • Where slopes have been altered by road and building construction
  • Along streams and rivers
  • Where there is a lot of surface runoff

There are a few things you can do to prevent being affected by mudslides. First, do not build your home near drainage ways, close to mountain edges, near steep slopes or in natural erosion valleys.

Be sure to learn about the history of your property. Have landslides happened there before? If they have, they are more likely to occur again. Huge boulders scattered randomly about can be leftover signs of past debris flows or landslides. Watch how the water runs off during storms, then make channels or deflection walls to redirect water run-off. Plant trees and plants on slopes to reduce soil erosion. Build retaining walls to restrain the soil along the slope.

Develop a family emergency response and evacuation plan that includes choosing a rendezvous location and a safety plan for any pets or livestock you may have.

If you live in an area that is considered at high risk for mudslides, pay special attention to the following warning signs indicating a land or mudslide is imminent:

  • Saturated ground
  • Unusual bulges in the pavement, sidewalk or ground
  • Soil moving away from building foundations
  • Cracking or concrete floors and foundations
  • Doors and windows that stick indicating the frames have shifted
  • Learning walls, trees or poles
  • Sunken roads
  • Rapidly increasing water levels that are full of sediment
  • A sudden decrease in water levels even though it is raining
  • Rumbling sounds
  • Trees cracking or boulders hitting the ground

If you were unable to evacuate, move to a second floor or roof if possible. Do not try to outrun a mudslide downhill. Instead move laterally, attempting to get to higher ground. If you are driving or walking, do not try to cross flooded streams. Watch out for rocks that may have already fallen, collapsed pavements and bridge damage. 

After a landslide, stay away from the area. Additional movement may occur. Be alert for flooding which often occurs after a mudslide or debris flow. Check for trapped or injured people near the slide location without entering the slide path. Be careful of downed electrical lines. 

Once the area has been declared safe, check your home’s foundation for damage. Replant the affected area as soon as possible. Seriously consider relocating since the chances of mudslides happening at the same location are very high. 

Mudslides are just on of the unpredictiable and deadly natural disasters that occur frequently in Mexico. Stay tuned for more preparedness posts during September, which is after all Preparedness Month.

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A Woman’s Survival Guide to Disasters in Rural Mexico

I don’t know about you, but the constant death count being broadcasted by every single social media outlet has been stressing me out. Seeing exhausted doctors and nurses, watching politicians squabble, and still not being sure whether we are or are not under quarantine where I live makes me feel helpless. 

Because of this, during this unforgettable month of March, I stepped up my efforts on my “disaster” book, the latest in the Women’s Survival Guide series. It reduced my endless scrolling on Facebook and kept me focused on what I could do to prepare, rather than all the things I couldn’t. With all that attention, I was able to finish the book several months ahead of schedule.

Today I’m pleased to announce that A Woman’s Survival Guide to Disasters in Rural Mexico: A Framework for Empowered Living Through Crisis is available on Amazon. 

Since my main goal is to help other women create fulfilling lives in Mexico, the eBook version of A Woman’s Survival Guide to Disasters in Rural Mexico: A Framework for Empowered Living Through Crisis will be free for the next few days, so that everyone who wishes to, can get a copy. 

As we continue our daily activities even in the face of uncertainty, my hope is that going forward, we won’t feel as helpless about our situation when we have a plan of action to work with.

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We are well into week 2 of the 2019 Gaspocalypse. Three days last week there was not a drop of that liquid gold to be found in Moroleon, Uriangato or Yuririra. The roads were eerily deserted. People camped in lines miles long in the hope that maybe tomorrow there would be gas. By Thursday, there was a trickle of gas coming in. Gas stations opened at 8 am and were sold out by 11 am. People waited more than 6 hours in line.

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Never leave home without your garafon of gas!

By Friday, a few delivery trucks were up and running. I saw the coke and Sabritas trucks out. Good thing! I don’t know what Moroleon would have done without their soda and chips. Mass hysteria to be sure! Of course, there is a Corona bottling plant in town. You know the owner of Corona lives in Moroleon, right? So there was never a fear of running out of beer. Whew!

gas ilustration

So how did things get to this extreme juncture with gas shortages now in 10 states? Well, no one is exactly sure. Initially, the well-intentioned president AMLO closed the pipelines to cut down on the out-of-control petroleum theft. Gas was to be brought to the stations via tanker truck under watchful military vigilance.

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Gas motorcade!

There aren’t enough trucks to meet demand so the gas has been languishing away at the port storage facilities. In fact, 60 oil tankers are anchored off-shore waiting to offload their cargo. Some have been waiting more than a month. Thus it remains a distribution problem rather than an actual gas shortage.

It appears that beginning this week the Mexican government will hire privately owned trucks to help alleviate the backup. The trucks will run 24 hours a day and be escorted by military police. Good! Good!

Has this rerouting process and pipeline closures helped with the gas theft? Not much apparently! Gas thefts from pipelines continue in Texmelucan, Puebla even with more than 4,000 additional federal troops being dispatched to safeguard them.

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Nearly there now!

The serpentine lines at gas stations continue. Fresh food deliveries are few and far between. Tourism is way down. Black market gas has reached record high prices on Facebook. Police have been forced to ride bikes on patrol. Superbowl Sunday Guacamole Dip is endangered. Suspected fuel thieves are being branded.

And yet, through it all, Mexicans find a way. In Morelia, mariachis came to party the night away with motorists waiting for the next gas shipment. What was about someone fiddling while the city burned?

Even if the gas shipments are regularized this week, the devastating blow to the Mexican economy will take much longer to regularize. AMLO’s decisions as incoming president are being questioned. The consensus seems to be that things were better under PRI. At least there was gas. Who cares if it was stolen? The devil you know and all that.

This reform went so swimmingly well, I can’t wait to see what AMLO has in store for the national healthcare system!


Would you like to learn how to survive other catastrophic disasters in Mexico? Check out A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico.atozcover


Filed under Driving Hazards, Economics, Politics