How to Help Central Mexico’s Earthquake Victims

On September 19, a terrible 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico, causing substantial property damage and a growing number of deaths – particularly in Mexico City. At a time when hurricanes and earthquakes seem to be descending from all directions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by natural disasters, but Mexico could really use your help.

In a bitter twist, this earthquake shook the country on the anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, which killed 5,000 people. In fact, earthquake drills to commemorate the devastating seismic event and encourage citizens to stay prepared had been held just hours before the shaking began.

What you need to know

While Mexico City has dominated headlines, the earthquake’s epicenter was actually in the nearby state of Puebla — and the quake dealt out damage across several Mexican states. As of Wednesday morning, the government estimated that 225 people had died in building collapses and other incidents, while some 800 more were injured. These counts will likely increase in the coming days, especially as reports come in from remote areas.

Affected regions face the need to repair or demolish damaged structures while restoring utilities and other municipal services. In Mexico City, very soft soil likely contributed to the extent of the damage.

How you can help

Topos Mexico, a civilian rescue brigade and response organization that formed in 1985 after sluggish government response to the quake, is on the ground. The group’s website is a little overwhelmed right now, but you can keep up with their operations via Twitter.

Other groups active in disaster response and relief efforts include UNICEF Mexico, Save the Children Mexico, Oxfam Mexico and Project Paz.

Global Giving, which gathers funds centrally to distribute to vetted charities, has also started a fundraiser.

If you work for a corporation, your company may offer charitable matching – an excellent way to make your donations go further. Before you donate, ask about eligible charities and any requirements. If your company doesn’t have a matching program, consider asking them to implement one — either as a one-time event for this crisis or as an ongoing pledge.

And if you don’t have much money, that doesn’t mean you can’t help! Organizing a fundraiser can be a great way to gather funds and increase awareness.

If you’re in Mexico and near the site of the earthquake, there’s a website coordinating volunteer efforts and in-kind donations. Self-deploying to help isn’t recommended, as well-meaning volunteers could inadvertently divert resources that are vital for earthquake recovery.

Long-term recovery:

As with the hurricanes that have devastated the Caribbean, Texas and Florida, this earthquake is grabbing headlines now, but it will start to fade over the coming weeks and months. That doesn’t mean that communities will have recovered, though.

Long-term support will be necessary to help communities get back on their feet, especially in the case of low-income areas where the earthquake may have wiped out homes and livelihoods, leaving people with nothing.

Setting up recurrent contributions to organizations working in Mexico can help offset “donor fatigue,” in which an initial flood of charitable contributions slows to a trickle. Encourage friends and colleagues to do the same.

Think close to home, too:

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, think about whether you’re ready for a similar incident. Could you survive without help for days — or even a week? Make sure your earthquake kit is up to date, and share current contact information with friends and relatives. Remember to make plans for a rendezvous point if you become separated.

Particularly in urban areas, take a look around you. Are buildings crowded closely together? Are there a lot of so-called “soft story” buildings, where large openings have replaced sheer walls, potentially making them more vulnerable to collapse?

Some cities are changing building codes and requiring retrofit programs to address these issues, but not every property owner has complied. Take an active role in pushing for code enforcement and updates if your neighborhood is behind the times on earthquake safety!

Take Action!

Urge Donald Trump to send aid to Mexico for earthquake relief by signing this Care2 petition.

Photo credit: Kasper Christensen


Sue H
Sue H2 months ago

Helpful information, thanks.

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

heather g
heather gabout a year ago

Mexico City was built on swamp land which they should have realized would be very unstable. Our town is also dangerously located on a glacier inlet and our d/t area is almost at sea level. Yet another area which is impossible to escape in the event of a disaster in this earthquake-prone area. The mind boggles at such ineptitude and irresponsibility.

Mike R
Mike R1 years ago


Mike R
Mike R1 years ago


Mike R
Mike R1 years ago


Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

I can't imagine the devastation. I don't think news coverage can compare to reality.

Ellie M
Ellie M1 years ago


Henry M
Henry M1 years ago

Wish there were ways to help without money

Sarah Grayce P
Sarah Grayce P1 years ago

thank you.