Earthquake Update

September 19, 2017

Attached is a credible Peace Corps update on the earthquake in Mexico earlier today.  I’m still alive & well in Querétaro, but it looks like there was significant damage close to where I’m scheduled to to relocated to on Fri. (INAOE is located in Tonantzintla, a small suburb of Puebla near Cholula).  I will get more details tomorrow and again on Thur. when we’re scheduled to meet with our site counterparts here at the Peace Corps Mexico office in Querétaro.  Thanks for your concern, and I will let you know if the situation changes.  Meanwhile, I apologize for previously sending out an incorrect Mexican phone number.  My new correct cell #, dialing from the US, is +52-1-(222) 119-2361.  Doug/David/Dad

Begin forwarded message:
From: “Kuklinski, Jaime” <jkuklinski@peacecorps.gov>
Subject: Today’s Earthquake Update for PCM Volunteers and Staff
Date: September 19, 2017 at 6:27:39 PM CDT
Cc: All Mexico Staff <MX01-Staff@peacecorps.gov>, “Rance, Benjamin” <brance@peacecorps.gov>, “Bruton, Joseph” <jbruton@peacecorps.gov>, “Like, George” <glike@peacecorps.gov>, “Untermeyer, Emily” <euntermeyer@peacecorps.gov>, “O’Donnell, Joshua” <jodonnell@peacecorps.gov>

Dear Volunteers

By now you should all have been contacted by your Emergency Staff Coordinator about the recent earthquakes that hit Puebla and Morelos today.

The following bullets are main points of today’s events as well as the status of PC/Mexico’s operations:

  • At 1:14pm local time today a preliminary 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Puebla, Mexico. Apparently there was another earthquake that struck in the state of Guerrero near Acapulco.
  • The epicenter of the Puebla quake was about 2.8 miles east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 34.1 miles south-southwest of the city of Puebla.
  • It was felt in the center of Mexico City, which is only about 75 miles away, and had a depth of 33 miles, according to USGS.
  • Twenty-seven buildings were reported to have collapsed in Mexico City while others have been seriously damaged.
  • The death toll at the time of this writing is:
    • Puebla:           13
    • Morelos:         42
    • Mexico City:  44
  • The extent of the damage in the areas hit are still being assessed.
  • Peace Corps Mexico has activated its Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and is putting its Volunteers on standfast.
    • All PCM staff (USDHs and PSCs have been accounted for).  PCM’s normal operations have not been affected.
    • Volunteers have been notified of the standfast and have been asked to report their whereabouts and the current status of their community. Remember that during a standfast, you are not allowed to leave your site/community.
    • As of this writing (6:30 pm) 96% of our Volunteers have been accounted for.  Three Volunteers do not have regular cell phone coverage, but their sites are in the northern part of Queretaro state where no seismic activity has been reported.  While we will continue to try to contact them, we are confident that they are ok and that we will hear from them shortly.
    • As per VIDA, there are no visiting Volunteers in Mexico.  One Volunteer who was planning on visiting later this week from Guatemala has been instructed to postpone her visit.
    • As per the whereabouts report, no Volunteers are in the immediate areas affected.
    • While Volunteers in the states of Central Queretaro, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Hidalgo have felt some shaking, temporary cell phone outages, and temporary loss of electricity, no major impacts have been reported.
  • The Regional Security Office at the US Embassy has been notified and we are on constant communication with them as well as with Peace Corps/Washington.
  • Our EAP committee will reconvene tomorrow, Wednesday at 9:00 am local time to further assess the situation and decide what to do about the standfast.
  • After today’s earthquakes, aftershocks are likely to happen.  If another quake or any significant aftershocks occur at your sites today or tomorrow or where you are stand fasting, please let us know immediately about it and that you are safe-call/text/WhatsApp anytime!  Staff will evaluate the standfast status tomorrow morning and will send another message sometime mid-morning.

Important considerations:

    • Remember to keep your phone charged.
    • If power or cell signal goes out, think about alternatives ways of communicating with us.
    • Ensure that you have adequate supplies of food and water for the next few days.
    • Have a working flashlight on hand.
    • Please read and become familiar with the important information at the end of this email of what to do in the case of an Earthquake.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or doubts, contact us.

Many thanks,

James “ Jaime” Kuklinski

Country Director/Director del Pais

Peace Corps México

Av. Universidad #202 | Querétaro, Qro. México 76020

Tel: 442 238-6900 | cel. 442 250 2680 | Email: jkuklinski@peacecorps.gov

Today’s earthquake reminds us that we should all know how to respond to an earthquake when it occurs.  The following information comes from the Emergency Preparedness and Response section of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Indoor Safety
 
Residences
Mexico City and other larger cities have installed early warning alarms in many neighborhoods.  These sirens should sound shortly before the earthquake hits, normally between 30-90 seconds prior.  Residents living on lower floors should evacuate immediately upon hearing this alarm, if it can be done before shaking intensifies.  In these situations, evacuate your residence and stay away from buildings, utility wires, sinkholes and fuel and gas lines. Mexico City and other larger citers in Mexico have proven to have good constructive techniques but as a general rule, evacuation is recommended as long as it can be done safely and before the earthquake intensifies.
 
If you can’t evacuate your residence follow the Drop, Cover and Hold on indications that are presented below.
 
Chancery
If you are inside the Chancery, stay inside. DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking.
 
In most situations, you will reduce your chance of injury from falling objects and even building collapse if you immediately:
DROP down onto your hands and knees before the earthquake knocks you down.  This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk.  If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that won’t fall on you, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops.   Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
DO NOT stand in a doorway.  You are safer under a table. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house.  The doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury−falling or flying objects.  Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (e.g., TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground.
If possible within the few seconds before shaking intensifies, quickly move away from glass and hanging objects, and bookcases, china cabinets, or other large furniture that could fall.  Watch for falling objects, such as bricks from fireplaces and chimneys, light fixtures, wall hangings, high shelves, and cabinets with doors that could swing open.
If available nearby, grab something to shield your head and face from falling debris and broken glass. If you are in the kitchen, quickly turn off the stove and take cover at the first sign of shaking.
If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.  You are less likely to be injured staying where you are.  Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
Outdoor Safety
If you are outside, stay outside, and stay away from buildings utility wires, sinkholes and fuel and gas lines.
The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse. Also, shaking can be so strong that you will not be able to move far without falling down, and objects may fall or be thrown at you. Stay away from this danger zone–stay inside if you are inside and outside if you are outside.
If outdoors, move away from buildings, utility wires, sinkholes, and fuel and gas lines. The greatest danger from falling debris is just outside doorways and close to outer walls. Once in the open, get down low (to avoid being knocked down by strong shaking) and stay there until the shaking stops.
It’s important to share the above information with your family and to hold practice drills at home.  Find more information by going to the CDC website: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/

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