Mexico retracts aid for Harvey victims

Series of natural disasters in September force Mexico to reconsider aid offered to U.S. after Hurricane Harvey

An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 tore through Mexico’s southern cities Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Tabasco claiming 95 lives and injuring 300, September 7. An estimated 1.5 million people were affected by the earthquake, with 41,000 homes damaged While still analyzing the damage from the quake, the country was struck by another natural disasters, Hurricane Katia, a Category 1 hurricane that made landfall north of Tecolutla, Mexico, on Friday, September 8.

Mexico had been planning to offer aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which hit land on August 25th in Texas. Harvey has caused a confirmed 75 deaths, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. The Mexican government publically stated their offer in late August, stating, “As good neighbors should always do in trying times.”

U.S President Donald Trump had made many critical tweets directed at Mexico prior to the offer, which did not go unnoticed by some of his opponents.

Despite Trump’s tweets, Mexico extended their offer to Texas’s in the time of need. Hurricane Harvey, the first major Atlantic hurricane to make landfall since Wilma in 2005, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in material damage. Mexico’s offer to start the relief work: 25 trailers with supplies, 300 beds, nine generators, water treatment equipment, three mobile kitchens, radio and satellite equipment, and personnel to the U.S – was an unexpected friendly gesture.

President Trump did not publically reply to the offer; however, Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, accepted any help for his people.

However, plans changed when the 8.1 magnitude quake shook the country around 12am local time on Friday, September 7. The quake was the most powerful the country has felt since September 19, 1985, a when an earthquake hit Mexico City, causing over 10,000 deaths.

Changes had to be made to accommodate the unexpected events. Mexico recalled its aid to the United States on September 11, originally offered in the aftermath of Harvey, to focus on earthquake recovery.

Some Mexican citizens reportedly felt the quake a far as Mexico City and Guatemala City, residing 500 and 466 miles away from Tabasco respectively. With material damage of their own and initially reported deaths of at least 95 citizens, the offer of support from Mexico still stood nonetheless.

United States President Donald Trump called Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on 14 September, a week after the earthquake, to express his condolences. Trump’s delayed call, which he blamed on cellular signal problems, was criticized by some media outlets in both countries

Peña Nieto, spoke about the tragedy from a city in Oaxaca state where at least 36 people died, “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 country had been preparing for Saturday morning’s arrival of Katia, but now was scrambling to clear debris and recover any earthquake survivors they could. The storm was downgraded to a tropical storm after losing majority strength when hitting the ground; however, the storm took two lives. The storm was predicted to bring about three to six inches of additional rain to the area.

The death toll from the earthquake was rising in numbers and people were still combing the rubble to find survivors when Tuesday, September 19, another quake hit 34 miles south of Puebla, Mexico with a magnitude of 7.1 for a duration of about 20 seconds. This seismic event, took the lives of 363 people, injured 6,000, caused the collapse of more than forty buildings, and caused damage in the states Puebla, Morelos and the Greater Mexico City.

Coincidentally, this quake occurred on the 32nd anniversary of the devastating 1985 earthquake.

A third quake of the month occurred in the region on September 24, a magnitude 6.1 which took 4 lives and injured 7 others.

Less than a week after Katia, Hurricane Max, a Category 1 storm, hit the Pacific side of the country – causing 2 deaths and leaving 1,500 homeless.