1985’s Earthquake Memories

One of our most sad experiences as Mexicans, was the 1985 earthquake. The adults of back then,

have several tragic stories and the young ones have theirs. It is important to remember this

moment because when one is constantly complaining or feeling sad, the remembrance of a

natural disaster in which many suffered, brings us back to the reality, that we can actually change

several things that bother us, but it is almost impossible to change your fate in a natural disaster.

I have been invited to write in Pipo Lion Heart’s blog as a memory of that moment. I am thankful

that he asked me to do so because it’s also part of his life since he was one of the lucky kids who

were born in that year and survived. Many children born in 1985 in the General Hospital of Mexico

died when it fell down.


Pipo was six months old, and was comfortably eating his breakfast in the special baby seats when

the whole building where we lived started to move. As a chilanga (named given to México City

people) we were more or less in the habit of feeling earth movements since we constantly have

them and they last seconds. So, in 1985 at 7:17 it was kind of bothering to get on the run when

you think it’s “one of the usual” low earth movements.


My husband waited for it to pass and left for his job. When he arrived there, he told me how

streets had opened in the middle leaving big cracks. My mother arrived half an hour later to my

apartment and told me she had been listening on the radio, to Jacobo Zabludovsky, the only

journalist who was going around the city and telling about all the buildings that had fallen. We

couldn’t believe it! It had been a 8.1 Richter degree earthquake!


We still didn’t have cell phones so for images to come out on the TV took half a day to appear. And

then on the 20th we had another telluric movement who made more buildings and houses go



My husband together with his fellow workers were asked to help checking up several buildings of

the most affected areas. Since they were engineers they’d know if they were in risk of collapsing.

He was given a special garment to wear and was injected with several vaccines. Before he arrived

home he would go through a special chemical bath, to avoid taking any bacterias or virus brought

out of dead bodies.


In those times my brother worked in a building by the famous avenue of Reforma, which suffered

severe alterations in its structure which meant he would have to move to another place. We were

very worried when he told us he would have to go in the building for important papers, because

after an earthquake that big, there are always repercussions.


My husband and his team of friends were not the only ones helping in this disaster. My oldest

nephew and his friends of 16 years old went to the Red Cross Hospital of Polanco to see how they


could help.1985's Earthquake Memories


They saw many corpses.

Meanwhile it was the neighbors of collapsed buildings who had started to move what was left of

the buildings to see if they could save people who had been trapped. A lot of people worked on

this chores of removing bricks and rocks for hours, days, nights and weeks looking for their loved

ones or simply looking for their fellowmen.


Help from many countries arrived at the airports. There is a special code between countries when

these kind of disasters occur. So food, water, vaccines, and prepared people and trained dogs

came to the rescue.


There are many tragic stories about people who were having their breakfast and fell together with

the wall behind them. We have been asked not use the stairs and elevators in these situations, but

thanks to the common sense of my friend Irma who decided to walk out of her apartment

promptly she was saved. Yes, the steps were collapsing behind her as she and her family were

walking down the stairs. By the time she stepped out of the building, it collapsed and the roof was

at the street level.


We had a great modern dance teacher from the UNAM, and an urban singer/composer Rockdrigo

who lived in the Tlatelolco buildings and died. Even though there are 102 buildings the earthquake

affected 12, of which the one called “Nuevo León” with 15 floors suffered the collapse of 288

apartments. Like in many parts of the city it was the civilians who first got organized to help.

Even though there was a lot of dust and dirt, many things came out into the open: like the bad

working situation of the women who worked as seamstresses, the millions of jewels concentrated in few

people, the incorrect figures of the dead people given by the media (we continue with the same

censorship problem by the government), thieves that took many of the help equipment, and food,

and people who had probably been bullied for their extreme thinness, who became the best

people to get into tunnels looking for buried people.

1985's Earthquake Memories

1985’s Earthquake Memories


People say that Mexicans are not very united, but this terrible event proved otherwise; thousands

of people left their comfortable homes to go and help.


Story by: Leonor Rodriguez Hickie

Leonor writes also for a digial magazine called www.cincuentaytantos.com.mx inside the category “La ventana de Leo” (Leo’s Window) 

A place for random articles but mainly for poems…

Follow Leo on Twitter

Categories: Cultural and News.

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