PUEBLA, Mexico – Pain, fear, anguish and resignation are felt to this day in San Juan Pilcaya, Chietla and Atzala, municipalities in Puebla state, two years after the lethal earthquake of Sept. 19, 2017.
The residents still have not lost hope about receiving the aid to rebuild their homes promised by the authorities and several associations.
But that aid has never arrived. Almost forgotten two years since that tragedy is the fact that it left hundreds of people with nothing.
Empty rubble-strewn streets, homes with walls and fences knocked down, furniture destroyed under falling rocks, and objects lost and forgotten fill the landscape of these municipalities.
According to the residents, these bereft neighborhoods have also become the lair of criminals and an ever-growing homeless population.
When the locals see some outsiders arriving, they inevitably ask the newcomers whether they are in charge of taking a census of people whose homes were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake, since in these two years they have received no aid at all.
Such is the case of Mario Rodriguez Soriano, a resident of San Juan Pilcaya, who with tears in his eyes told EFE that the adobe house where he lived for over 70 years came crashing down the day “the earth shook,” a reference to the magnitude-7.1 temblor that hit central Mexico almost two years ago.
Due to his advanced age he has not been able to put up the money needed to again build a worthy home for his family, so that now nine people live in a room with three beds separated by sheets hung up like curtains in order to have a little privacy.
Mario said he was tired of the bureaucracy: “I haven’t gone back because I was fed up with them. They told me to fill out this paper, fill out this other one...sometimes I didn’t even have enough money to make copies.”
One of Mario’s neighbors, Ricarda Hernandez, said that the people taking the census of damages told her that she had knocked down her own house to get the payoff.
“Listen, don’t think I’m crazy, I told him that this was my home, and right now I have nothing,” said Ricarda, who said that since that day she has felt ill out of fear and remembering that the second anniversary is soon to arrive.
But such stories aren’t confined to this municipality, since in Chietla, Benito Fernando Paredes said that he lives in a house that is propped up and for which he hasn’t the 45,000 pesos ($2,300) to reconstruct the roof, since he has given priority to the studies of his children so they can have a decent future.
In Atzala municipality, inhabitants recall the 12 neighbors who lost their lives inside the parish church, but nobody wants to talk about that day.
The locals are used to walking around the area restricted by the authorities, where they see how their church is covered in rubble from its collapsed towers and is deteriorating more every day.
The entire region hopes the authorities keep the promises they made so they can live without fear and everyone can have a better life.
The Sept. 19, 2017, quake left 369 dead, 228 of them in Mexico City.
Days before, on Sept. 7, a magnitude-8.2 earthquake with its epicenter in the southern state of Chiapas had taken 98 lives.