February 13th, 2010 | By Mary Stucky
Now, a month after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I’m reminded of the many conversations I had with people in Mexico City over recent weeks. While I struggled to comprehend what it might have been like to feel the earth shake and buildings topple, many Chilangos, as residents of Mexico City sometimes call themselves, were eager to tell me what had happened and how it had felt in 1985 when a massive earthquake killed at least 4500 people – most likely many more.
(Photo of Mexico City earthquake: Wikimedia)
It took days for real help to arrive – the government was inept and slow to mobilize rescues — in the meantime many residents organized themselves into teams to dig through the rubble in the hopes of finding survivors. In one case citizens refused to let government soldiers demolish a hospital in which babies were later found alive. It’s said that the 1985 earthquake lead to a new civic-mindedness in Mexico City, improved building design, created an earthquake alert system, and some suggest that it may have even eventually lead to the demise of the corrupt political party, the PRI, that had long ruled Mexico. One can only hope that something positive might — eventually — come of the horror still haunting Haiti.