Imagine you were in Mexico City when the earthquake happened on September 19: Perhaps you are in school when, suddenly, you feel the ground moving. Then you hear a building falling. Your friends and your teacher are frightened and screaming. When you go outside, you see a building collapsed on the ground with victims scattered around it. You hear the ambulance sirens coming near you. You wonder if your family is safe and if you are going to be safe. You run to your house, and when you get there, you see your home destroyed, with a body in front of the building. It is your neighbor.
The earthquake in Mexico City was a terrible tragedy that killed more than 300 people. It was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Many of the people killed were children who were in their school buildings when the quake hit. Many students now are still out of school because their schools were destroyed or damaged, and they lost their homes too.
32 years ago, a similar earthquake happened in Mexico City, a fact that I learned from my mother, who lived there at the time.
“My brother was 6 years old, and when I woke up, I thought it was my brother jumping on the bed. But it was the earthquake,” my mother recalled.
She was 10 years old when the first earthquake hit, and she too experienced missing school for a long period of time because of the natural disaster. “When I noticed it was an earthquake, I saw my mom terrified and my brother crying, so I went up to my mom and started to hug her. We prayed together,” she said.
Mariel Garcia Montes is a Boston Public School student and a volunteer at ZUMIX, a nonprofit organization that offers afterschool music programming to youth. She grew up in Mexico City and has friends and family who were affected by the earthquake.
“No one [in my family] got injured, thankfully, but I know some people that got injured or killed, sadly,” she said. “Things are not the same because many businesses got destroyed and a lot of people in Mexico now have to live in hotels.”
Many of Mexico City’s precious places were destroyed by the earthquake, including some of Montes’ friends’ homes. “Thankfully, none of the buildings I used to live in and visit [were destroyed], but many of my friends got hit in the most worst spots and now they are homeless sadly.” I wanted to know how she would feel if she was in the shoes of her friends who had experienced the quake.
“It would feel like a moment of terror,” she said. “Seeing all of the buildings destroyed would be scary. Also many people thought it was the end for them and were scared of death.”
Both my mother and Montes were faced with a very hard task—knowing that their family was in danger.
“During [this most recent] earthquake, I felt really sad and terrified and prayed for my family’s safety,” said my mother. About a month after the disaster, she went to Mexico to bring supplies to my family. Her trip brought Mexico City one step closer to recovery.