On Thursday, Sept. 7, the Mexico City-based team of Direct Relief was busy preparing for Hurricane Katia—the category 3 hurricane expected to make landfall on Mexico’s east coast on Saturday morning. By Friday, Sept. 8, the team’s mission had doubled overnight.
At 11:49 p.m. local time, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of southern Mexico, crumbling homes on the coast and sending Mexico City’s residents out running into the streets as monuments and high rises trembled. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, the death toll from the quake has risen to 58, according to Luis Felipe Puente of Mexico’s National Emergency Services. The majority of the deaths occurred in Oaxaca, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The temblor was an eerie reminder to those who lived through the 1985 earthquake, an 8.0 magnitude that claimed the lives of nearly 10,000.
Direct Relief will be focusing their relief efforts in Oaxaca, given that the area was the hardest hit.
Direct Relief will be working with medical companies and government agencies in Mexico to bring needed medical supplies to the most affected areas of rural Oaxaca. Using connections with both government agencies and businesses like Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, Direct Relief can work as an intermediary: assess the needs of the area, then obtain the supplies that can alleviate those needs and distribute them.
Direct Relief will arrive on the ground in Oaxaca on Saturday to begin connecting with those who are coordinating emergency response, and then start assessing their needs in terms of medication and medical supplies.
“We need to give this a shot. This was the largest earthquake to hit Mexico in 100 years… We need to do the best we can to help out as best we can,” said Eduardo Mendoza, senior manager of Direct Relief’s Mexico program.
— Meghan Dhaliwal is a journalist based in Mexico City.