Disasters & Accidents

The forgotten town five years after one of Mexico’s biggest earthquakes

By José de Jesús Cortés

Oaxaca, Mexico, Sep 7 (EFE).- Every September, the town of San Lorenzo Jilotepequillo is struck by heavy rains that further damage the already crumbling homes in the southern Mexican town.

The month of September also marks the anniversary of the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the area on 7 September 2017, one of the strongest ever to hit Mexico.

The earthquake is a bitter memory for the residents of the small town that, despite being heavily hit by the tremor, was never included in the aid package by the government to help rebuild the over 60,000 homes that were damaged in the Tehuantepec region in the state of Oaxaca.

Five years on, Don Colón Álvarez’s home is still standing although it is only held up by wooden beams.

“They came to supervise and then they sent support, but just some food, then they came to register the census and so my father said: ‘Oh, they are going to rebuild my house,” Álvarez’s daughter tells Efe.

“But I told him: who knows because sometimes they just come and cheat. But he believed it until he died,” she adds.

Álvarez’s home is just one of the 80 in the small town of San Lorenzo Jilotepequillo that are on the brink of collapse.

Although five years have passed since the earthquake, collapsed beams, walls and rubble are still strewn around the town as if the disaster had just happened. Many of the town’s inhabitants have left due to the government’s neglect.

“As we are a remote region, the aid could not arrive, Civil Protection could not come up because they never came here to verify all the damage,” the municipal secretary of Jilotepequillo, Hermenegildo Rodríguez, says.

“We went to Tehuantepec, we went to Oaxaca, we were knocking on doors but unfortunately they turned a deaf ear and never came to visit us,” he adds.

Three years ago, they stopped asking for help.

Palermo Olivero and his wife Alejandra Morelos, both over 80 years old, were also left waiting for the reconstruction money without the strength to work.

“They said they were going to fix it, but so far nothing,” Olivero tells Efe.

The couple now sleep in the kitchen while they wait for the government to give them the resources to rebuild their homes.

The strongest earthquake in almost 100 years in Mexico left 99 people dead across Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco, according to official data. EFE


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