Two BYU-Hawaii students shared stories about how the Mexico City earthquake affected their families and how the citizens of Mexico are coming together to save lives and provide relief before the government was able to provide relief efforts.
On the day the earthquake hit, Carolina Beristain Cruz, a freshman from Mexico studying business, said her brother Alejandro was working in a 10-story hospital. Cruz said, “He was on the fifth floor, helping a doctor with an open-heart surgery. They ran out of medical equipment so [Alejandro] had to go downstairs to the first floor. Once he got there, the earthquake hit.
“All the doctors [on the fifth floor] left besides the one doing the open-heart surgery. He stayed there and covered the patient with his own body because the heart was still open...if anything got into [the patient's heart], he could die, so it was very brave of him.”
All of Cruz’s family members are okay, she said, and she was so impressed with how the people of Mexico are coming together to help one another during this tragedy. “Everyone is helping. We cannot wait for the government. If we waited, many people would pass away, so we have to start doing that.”
Cruz stated her emotions have been high. “I started watching the news, it was so sad seeing my country like that. I was about to cry because there are kids there who lost their lives while they were going to school. You do not know what it is like–you can say, ‘Hi,’ to someone, and tomorrow you don’t know if you will see that person again.”
The government is not allowing people to go into any schools for now, said Cruz, so her relatives have all gone back to her hometown Oaxaca and are helping the relief efforts there. She said, “In Mexico City, there is a lot of help. Enough people know about what’s going on there. Not many people know what happened in Oaxaca and the earthquake was even bigger.” Cruz said she wishes she could be with her family, but “for now, I’ll just wait and pray.”
Zully Davila, a sophomore studying psychology from Utah with family in Mexico, said she heard the news almost immediately. “I found out right before during the devotional [with Elder Gary E. Stevenson]. My parents texted me in a group message.”
Both of Davila’s older siblings have married into families with relatives living in the affected areas of Mexico. “I sat down and was watching the devotional and thinking about it the entire time.” She stated good news came quick from both sides of her family. “They are both doing good, that’s the good thing. They are staying in other families’ places.”
She said she received so much strength from Stevenson’s devotional, specifically when he shared Alma 26:37: “Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.”
Davila said she sent that scripture to her family to calm their worries. She said, “There were literally earthquakes hitting in Mexico as he was speaking, and he just let us know God is mindful of his people in every land, no matter what they are going through. It was a good reminder of God’s protection.”
According to the Associated Press, the Sept. 17 Mexico City earthquake had a magnitude of 7.1 and the death toll is upwards of 115 people. This is the largest death total from an earthquake since 1985. Jorge Ortega, a junior studying psychology from Mexico, said, “I felt scared and in despair to see the videos of buildings falling and people being trapped inside...the phone lines, along with many other things were down.”