MEXICO CITY – Just days before the demolition of their crack-riddled apartment blocks, people left homeless by Mexico’s powerful Sept. 19 earthquake hope they will be soon be living in new buildings erected at the same spots, albeit without many of their cherished belongings.
“It’s very sad because our memories stayed behind. We won’t be able to recover anything. All our things, our lives, were left there,” said Magdalena Hernandez, owner of one of the apartments that make up a badly damaged building located at Concepcion Beistegui 1503 in Mexico City’s Del Valle neighborhood.
A group of surveyors is currently working on the ground outside that six-story building, evaluating the building’s structure and slant and their demolition strategy.
It is one of between 150-200 buildings that Mexico City’s Building Safety Institute, in a preliminary assessment, has said should be demolished in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.1 earthquake, which left 369 people dead, 228 of them in the capital.
The task of demolishing the buildings, expected to commence on Monday, will be complicated and begin with the removal of glass windows and the dismantling of facades.
“No explosives will be used due to the buildings’ characteristics. They’re right next to other buildings, and we can’t put them at risk,” Mexico City Public Works and Services Secretary Edgar Tungui said in a radio interview.
The apartment owners at Concepcion Beistegui and their families have moved out for their own safety, but they have been taking turns in recent days watching over the building at a small site just 30 meters (100 feet away).
They keep an eye on their belongings, receive government authorities and answer questions from members of the media.
“I want them to build right there, to put our (new) building up right there, because we don’t want to leave. They promised us that,” said Hernandez, who like most of the other occupants of the building is already retired and has little in the way of savings.