I was honored when David Gonzalez asked me to be a member of Team 1. I felt sad for those affected by the strong M7.1 earthquake in Central Mexico and joining the team seemed to be a way for me to directly offer help. In addition, since this is my first experience on an Earthquake Reconnaissance team, it will be an excellent learning opportunity.
I arrived in Mexico City on Saturday, September 23rd with Humberto Caudana. Shortly after we arrived we felt the M6.1 aftershock that hit Matias Romero, Mexico. We heard the siren from the early warning system and evacuated the building we were in. On the street, we saw lamp posts oscillating. I could see how nervous everyone was and realized that in the next couple days, I would be able to help put some people at ease by assisting with the review of buildings.
On September 25th, Team 1 gathered to start off Day 2 on our trip. We made our way to the office of the Secretaria de Protección Civil Ciudad Mexico (Protección Civil) a few blocks away. While waiting for the office to open, we met a mechanical engineer, Arturo, who was also volunteering to help the Protección Civil with building evaluations. At 9:00AM, an engineer with Protección Civil, Carlos, welcomed our group as we joined the Protección Civil brigades to perform Rapid Evaluations with him and other colleagues.
Team 1, plus Arturo, was assigned to review a high school in the neighborhood, Condesa. We completed the “Forma de Inspeccion Post Sismica Evaluacion Rapida” (Rapid Evaluation forms). After the Rapid Evaluation of the five-story building, it was deemed that the school had an “Uncertain Security” and needed a more detailed evaluation.
To complete rapid evaluations of more buildings in the neighborhood, we split into three brigades, each with an employee of Protección Civil. As a team, we reviewed a total of 12 buildings today. We saw a range of mid-rise building and high rise buildings. Many structural systems included reinforced concrete frames with masonry infill walls. We inspected apartment buildings, mixed use buildings, and a school. Much of the damage we saw was due to adjacent building pounding, soft stories, and coupled shear walls.
I believe that we all ended Day 2 feeling tired, but with a sense of fulfillment from helping the Secretaria de Protección Civil with building evaluations. In Condesa you could see a collapsed building on one side of the street and people enjoying a coffee at a café on the other side of the street. I suppose people in this area of Mexico City are used to the destruction that an earthquake can bring, but it is interesting that one can go back to their normal lifestyle amid such chaos. Today, I saw the importance of community resilience.
Stay tuned for daily updates from our team… and if you have questions about our efforts, please comment below and we will respond with an answer.