By Hannah Bouchard
Image from newsweek.com
On Thursday, September 7, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southern coast of Mexico, making it the strongest earthquake to strike Mexico in a century since an 8.0 magnitude quake hit in September of 1985. The most recent death toll has been confirmed as 96, 71 of these coming from the southern state of Oaxaca, 15 from Chiapas, and 4 from the neighboring city of Tabasco. More than 200 have been reported injured across the country. According to Alejandro Murat, the governor of Oaxaca, approximately 12,000 buildings, including many homes, were either damaged or destroyed in the state. The earthquake is said to have been felt by 50 million people in the entire country, it was felt as far as Mexico City which is hundreds of miles away from the epicenter.
After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Mexico offered relief efforts to the state, including food and medical supplies for those affected by the disaster. Mexico claimed that doing so was essential to being a good neighbor. However, after the earthquake, President Donald Trump sent no condolences or relief efforts. In fact, the same day Mexico had extended their offer, President Trump took to Twitter to denounce Mexico for its crime rates and to regurgitate his plan to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. This, in combination with the need for relief in their home country, caused Mexico to rescind its offer and redirect that aid back to the victims of the earthquake. The United States president has still not offered aid to Mexico.
On the Saturday following the earthquake, the east coast of Mexico was hit by category 1 Hurricane Katia, killing at least two people from consequent mudslides. The hurricane, according to The Sun, is the 11th named Atlantic Storm this year. The Oaxacan city of Juchitán de Zaragoza, and the surrounding towns, continued to feel aftershocks of the earthquake after the original impact. The hurricane first hit land in Tecolutla, but after making contact, it began to die down somewhat quickly, with wind speeds dropping and bringing the hurricane status to that of a tropical storm.
When surveying Drew students about their thoughts on the disaster and the social impacts it has caused, it seems that, although this was something so significant, the event has not been as publicized in the wake of the other recent hurricanes that have been affecting the United States. Victoria Adams (‘21) weighs in, “To be completely honest, I didn’t even know that there was an earthquake in Mexico. Maybe a lack of awareness is also part of the problem? I feel that it is okay for [Mexico] to revoke their [aid] to help themselves. Trump has offered no aid, so I feel that it is completely justified, especially given the circumstances.”
The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, declared three days of mourning following the earthquake. “The power of this earthquake was devastating, but we are certain that the power of unity, the power of solidarity and the power of shared responsibility will be greater,” the President stated.