Earthquake hit Mexico and Hurricane Maria passes through Caribbean

In an eerie order of events, many residents of Mexico City were practicing an earthquake drill just a mere two hours before a powerful 7.1 magnitude quake hit the city and surrounding areas. The drill is done every year as an effort of preparedness after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the south-west coast of Mexico on Sept. 19, 1985. Thirty-two years to the day, Mexico is dealing with devastation again as death tolls continue to rise in the city. Over 220 people have died since the quake, with the toll expected to rise in the coming days as many residents help search the rubble of collapsed buildings in the city.

The powerful earthquake struck the southern state of Puebla, 123km from Mexico City. So far, 86 deaths have been reported in Mexico City itself. Over 40 buildings have collapsed, including elementary schools. This is the largest earthquake to strike so close to the country’s capital since the 1985 quake which claimed over 5000 lives. Many volunteers, members of the Navy, and designated rescue workers were working overnight to rescue missing children from the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school. Many children died when the A Wing of the three-storey building fell down.

Just two weeks ago, another fatal earthquake hit the south of Mexico, where it claimed the lives of 70 people. That earthquake registered at a magnitude of 8.2 near rural communities in Oaxaca state. With only two weeks apart, these devastating earthquakes have already claimed too many lives. Geophysicists from the US Geology Survey have determined that both earthquakes were a result of a rupture in the fault lines in North American tectonic plates. Mexico City is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and according to geologists it is at risk because of that location. Mexico is located in an area known as the Pacific Ring of Fire which contains the most active volcanoes. According to Hongfeng Yang, a seismologist from the University of Hong Kong, almost 80 per cent of the world’s earthquakes strike in the Ring of Fire.

The tremors in the city were said to last up to seven minutes and so far there have been 11 aftershocks reported 11, with the strongest one carrying a magnitude of 4.0

Hurricane Update:

Hurricane Maria is still causing destruction in the Caribbean, with 90 per cent of the buildings in Dominica absolutely totalled.

Maria has made landfall in Puerto Rico. With winds of over 150mph, this storm will prove to be even more catastrophic than Hurricane Irma, which damaged parts of the country just last week. Many of these caribbean countries were still recovering from the last two hurricanes to hit and now many in Puerto Rico are dealing with storm surges, intense flash flooding, and power outages. So far, over 900,000 residents have lost power. Maria made landfall near the city of Yabucoa with the strength of a Category 4 storm. The storm has also ruined two National Weather Service radars on the island. Maria is the first hurricane in over 80 years with a category 4 strength to hit the island.

So far Maria has killed nine people in the Caribbean and is expected to make its way past Turks and Caicos before weakening out at sea. Tropical storm Lee, which was following the path of Maria, has died down to a tropical depression and has almost completely disappeared and is causing no threat to the Caribbean.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those being affected during this difficult time.

Update 1:56 PM Wednesday

Officials from the Puerto Rico Office of Emergency Management Agency said that Puerto Rico has lost 100 per cent power on the island and that anyone with electricity is using a generator. So far Hurricane Maria has caused severe damage to infrastructure. Maria is forecasted to approach north of Punta Cana in the Dominican republic overnight and  by Thursday afternoon make its way through Turks and Caicos

UPDATED: Hurricane Maria, category 3 storm, set to hit Caribbean

The Caribbean Islands just can’t catch a break.

Earlier this morning, Hurricane Maria was upgraded to a category three storm and is moving along the same path as Hurricane Irma, the category five storm that left 37 dead.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Martinique.

A tropical hurricane warning was issued for St. Vincent, the Grenadines ,St. Martin, St. Barts, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, and Puerto Rico.

According to the latest update provided by the U.S. National Hurricane Centre at 2 p.m. on Monday, the eye of the storm is located on Martinique moving westward. It will move through the Leeward Islands later this afternoon and evening. Winds are expected to gust at 200km/hr and Maria is being described as a “dangerous major hurricane.”

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the update reads. “The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the north and east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”

Maria is expected to produce six to 12 inches of rainfall with isolated amounts of 20 inches across central and southern Leeward Islands as well as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico can expect up to 25 inches. This can cause flash floods and mudslides.

More to come.


UPDATE : Hurricane Irma is now a post-tropical cyclone

To the people in the Leeward Islands and the state of Florida, Hurricane Irma will be remembered as one of the deadliest storms. Irma is actually still going strong, however, the storm is now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone in the south-eastern United States. With 40km/h winds, Irma is causing moderate rainfall as it tracks its way to the Tennessee valley.

This is nothing compared to the force Irma carried as it hit the Caribbean islands. It left countries completely devastated, nearly wiped off the map. So far, there have been 40 deaths as a result of Irma, with the toll sure to rise in the coming weeks.

Many island countries are struggling to rebuild and various international organizations and governments are contributing to the need. Virgin Atlantic CEO, Richard Branson, has already started raising money for Irma relief. Branson chose to ride out the storm by hunkering down in a wine cellar in his private home in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Many people in BVI are now homeless, with their houses reduced to complete rubble. As Branson said, short term aid and long-term recovery are important for the Caribbean communities to rebuild. The islands are not like metropolitan cities, but are small communities with less resources and disaster preparedness.

In Puerto Rico, over 1 million residents are slowly regaining power in an effort to recover from Hurricane Irma last weekend. Seventy per cent of the homes have their electricity restored, however, the last 30 per cent have to wait between two weeks and a month. Leading up to the storm, the island’s sole electricity provider, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, was left in a fragile state and authorities had even warned residents that they could face power outages for up to six months in some parts of the island. Thankfully, due to a change in the storm path this did not happen.

Hurricane Irma did, however, show the fragility of the Puerto Rican economy and the public– sector debt. The island is an unincorporated US territory and the US has offered federal assistance to help rebuild following the destruction caused by Irma. Many Puerto Ricans are now pushing for a rise in privatization and entrepreneurship to help strengthen the economy.

In Florida, there are approximately 15 million residents left without power and many people are left cleaning up the debris in the streets. It was reported that five residents of a South Florida nursing home died after losing power. Irma hit South Florida as a category three storm and immediately battered areas such as Miami and Venice Florida.

The storm featured a rare phenomenon known as a reverse storm surge. This sucked the water from coastal areas, resulting in an eerily desert looking landscape as the winds blew in reverse directions causing flooding in other parts. This affected even the Bahamas and the Key Largo and Tampa areas.



Many celebrities have already started raising relief for Hurricane Irma and Harvey. The Hand in Hand telethon was a star studded event, including performances that helped raise approximately $44 million . In Texas, the estimated loss from hurricane Harvey and Irma is an average $200 billion. As many communities rebuild and raise funds, Hurricane Jose is looming in the southwest Atlantic near the Bahamas and Bermuda. Jose is a category one storm, but is tracking an uncertain and unusual path. The storm may cause effects to the Atlantic Canada region.

Canada has sent $160K of relief for caribbean countries and continues to send disaster teams.