Much remains to be done in Mexico City neighborhood a year after quake

    19 de septiembre de 2018

    Mexico City, Sep 19 (efe-epa).- Radios can be heard in the streets of San Gregorio Atlapulco. They belong to the bricklayers working hard in this neighborhood on the south side of Mexico City, providing testimony to the fact that - a year after the powerful earthquake that shook the city center - much remains to be done.

    "Damaged property," reads a handmade sign posted at a spot where a house is being rebuilt. Bricks are piled up on the streets and many house facades retain the aerosol-painted symbols allowing people at a glance to identify what the damage is to each home.

    At present, a year after the magnitude-7.1 quake that killed 369 people, including 228 in Mexico City, this neighborhood in the capital borough of Xochimilco is a mixture of contradictions.

    On some streets stand recently-built houses in vibrant colors. On others, many of the local residents are still trying to put their property back into shape, often using their own resources.

    "We decided it was better to get things organized on our own," Maria Felix Robles told EFE, adding that she regrets losing time "waiting for help that never came."

    This housewife continues to live with her children in a small room she rents in a neighboring district, but each day she comes to oversee the workers she has hired to repair her home.

    Her house is made of stone and earth and its ground floor was damaged extensively, and since then getting the approvals and documents prepared to undertake the reconstruction work has been a constant headache.

    "You have to take a different paper to each (government office)," she said.

    The properties damaged in the quake were classified into three categories - green (light damage), yellow (significant, but nonstructural damage) and red (structurally unsound) - and the aid a homeowner may receive depends on the level of damage.

    Irene "Melita" Castro's home was rated green, but the authorities recommended she strengthen its structure. However, the analysis didn't take into account one of the most significant parts of the home for her: her large kitchen.

    "It's been a year since the quake that I haven't worked," 70-year-old Castro told EFE.

    In recent years, she had been in the tamale business, making anywhere from $16 to $26 a day selling her wares. But after part of her kitchen was destroyed, continuing with that endeavor has proved impossible.

    She has, however, been able to continue preparing her well-known "mole" (sauce) - "which doesn't hurt you, it's really sweet" - thanks to some money provided by one of her customers, although she says she doesn't sell much, only to people she knows.

    "They pay my retirement, but it's very little and it doesn't cover everything, because I'm paying for the construction workers, materials and everything," said Castro, who has only received the support provided by using one of the government-issued debit cards, which makes available funds to buy reconstruction items.