Recent weeks have brought no shortage of natural disasters, wreaking havoc on communities around the world. Though destruction has taken the form of everything from wildfires to flooding, the common theme surrounding these events is the resilience of the communities affected.
Amidst the devastation, headlines have still been able to tell stories of neighbors helping neighbors and people traveling hundreds of miles to lend a helping hand.
Just last week, Mexico City experienced its second high-magnitude earthquake in two weeks. The first was a powerful 8.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Oaxaca and the surrounding region, claiming the lives of at least 90 people on September 7. Just a week later, a 7.1 quake rocked the region, with a death toll of 305 as of Saturday, September 23.
In the days following these tragedies, Mexicans have mobilized in massive numbers to come to the aid of friends, neighbors, and even strangers – to the point where some organizations have even turned away volunteers. A group of elite emergency rescue volunteers known as “Los Topos”, “the moles” in English, have descended upon the city to dig through rubble in search of survivors. The group became notoriously successful after the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, 32 years to the day before last week’s 7.1 quake. The success of the volunteers in responding to that disaster led to their deployment at disasters in El Salvador, Japan, Colombia, Haiti, and Nepal. The group is well-trained and maintained year-round, despite their members being unpaid volunteers.
The private sector response has been staggering as well: major cellphone carriers have waived fees, Uber is providing a shuttle service for volunteers, and Amazon has collaborated with the Red Cross to create a system for donating goods that are actually needed. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Mexico has revealed its community strength.