Mexico quake: In the ruins of home

Rubble is all that remains of hundreds of houses rent asunder by the earthquake that struck Mexico in September, leaving owners lodging with relatives or friends, hoping their homes can be rebuilt or they can find new ones.

At least 369 people died in the 7.1 magnitude quake that hit central Mexico, causing more devastation in the capital than any since the 1985 disaster that killed thousands.

Damage to housing was particularly striking in central areas of the country close to the epicenter of the quake southeast of Mexico City in the states of Puebla and Morelos.

Some houses were simply flattened by the shuddering tectonic shift which the government and the private sector estimated caused billions of dollars of damage.

“I lost everything. My aunt died here,” said Ana Maria Hernandez, 37, a clothing salesperson, as diggers cleared away the wreckage of her home in Jojutla de Juarez, Morelos.

Now living with relatives, she and many others hope their destroyed homes will eventually be rebuilt.

But uncertainty clouds the future for some.

Veronica Dircio, a 34-year-old housewife said “nothing was left” of the house she and her children called home before the earthquake hammered the town of San Juan Pilcaya in Puebla.

“We’re worried because they came and did a census of the homes; and whether it’s a big house or a small house, they haven’t told us if we’re at least going to be able to get back a bit of what was once our house,” Dircio said.

Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed in the quake, which followed another major tremor in the southwest of Mexico two weeks earlier that displaced thousands of people.

Maria Trinidad Gonzalez, 41, managed to salvage some cooking utensils and furniture from the ruins of her home in the small town of Tepalcingo in Morelos. Mounds of fallen bricks and churned up debris covered the floor of her roofless house.

With its walls pulled down and the contents strewn outdoors, the house of 70-year-old housewife Maria Guzman in San Jose Platanar in Puebla state was left completely uninhabitable by the quake, forcing her into a shelter.

“The most valuable thing that I recovered was the photo of my wedding day,” Guzman said outside the shattered building. (Reuters)

Photography by Edgard Garrido

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Prudencio Gutierrez

Prudencio Gutierrez, 66, a farm worker, poses for a portrait in front of his house after an earthquake in San Francisco Xochiteopan, Mexico, September 27, 2017. Gutierrez’s house was badly damaged, but he was able to rescue his bed and some clothing. “The most valuable thing that I recovered was my hat,” he said. “The authorities said they were going to help us build a house, but I do not know if it’s true.” (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Ana Maria Hernandez

Ana Maria Hernandez, 37, a clothing salesperson, poses for a portrait outside her house as it is demolished after an earthquake in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, September 30, 2017. Her house was badly damaged. Hernandez is living with relatives and hopes to return home once it is rebuilt. “I lost everything. My aunt died here,” she said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Tomasa Mozo

Tomasa Mozo, 69, a housewife, looks up at the roof as she poses for a portrait inside the ruins of her house after an earthquake in San Jose Platanar, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. The house was badly damaged but with the help of her family Mozo rescued some furniture. She lives in another room of her house and hopes to repair the damage as soon as possible. “I’m afraid to go out, I can not sleep,” Mozo said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Rene Contreras

Rene Contreras, 20, a student, poses for a portrait on the rubble of his house after an earthquake in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, September 29, 2017. The house was badly damaged. “Now I live with my brother. Tomorrow a good-hearted person will build for me an emergency house. I will fight to get ahead,” Contreras said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Luis Medina

Luis Medina, 36, a farm worker, Maria Teresa Espinoza, 35, housewife, and Maria de Jesus Medina, 9, pose for a portrait inside their house which was badly damaged after an earthquake in San Jose Platanar, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. They were able to rescue some furniture and are waiting for their home to be demolished. They are living in their backyard and hope for it to be rebuilt. “The most valuable thing that I recovered was the picture of the Virgin,” Espinoza said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Maria Guzman

Maria Guzman, 70, a housewife, poses for a portrait on the rubble of her house after an earthquake in San Jose Platanar, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. The house was badly damaged, but with the help of her family Guzman rescued some furniture. She lives in a shelter and hopes her home will be rebuilt. “The most valuable thing that I recovered was the photo of my wedding day,” Guzman said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Catalina Martinez

Catalina Martinez, 78, a housewife, poses for a portrait in the doorway of her house after an earthquake in San Jose Platanar, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. The house was badly damaged, but with the help of her family Martinez was able to rescue some furniture. She is living in her backyard and hopes that her home can be rebuilt. “I hope the authorities do not deceive us with promises. I do not know what’s going to happen to us,” Martinez said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez, 53, a parishioner and a church guard, poses for a portrait in front San Juan Bautista church after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. His house wasn’t damaged so he has offered shelter to some families in his backyard. “We are holding mass under a tent. It is a great sadness, we are waiting for the government’s help to rebuild our church,” Sanchez said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Ventura Sanchez

Ventura Sanchez, 63, housewife, poses for a portrait on the rubble of her house after an earthquake in La Nopalera, Mexico, September 27, 2017. The house was badly damaged but with the help of her family Ventura rescued some furniture. She is living in her backyard and hopes for her house to be rebuilt. “I hope the authorities do not deceive us with promises. I am very sad,” she said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Elena Zapata

Elena Zapata, 69, a housewife, poses for a portrait with her granddaughter Mariana, 3, inside the ruins of her house after an earthquake in Tepalcingo, Mexico, September 29, 2017. The house was badly damaged but with the help of her family and soldiers Zapata rescued some furniture. She lives in her backyard and hopes to return when the damage is repaired. “The most valuable that I have is the life of my granddaughter. We hope the authorities come to visit us. I feel anguish, I hear noises, I just want to cry,” Zapata said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Veronica Dircio

Veronica Dircio, 34, a housewife, poses for a portrait with her sons in front of a tent in a neighbour’s backyard after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. Dircio’s house was badly damaged. “We stayed on the street. We expect the demolition of our house and the help of the authorities,” she said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Hector Guzman

Hector Guzman, 48, peasant and representative of the Municipal President in San Jose Platanar, holds the model of a new house for his father as he poses for a portrait after an earthquake in San Jose Platanar, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. Guzman is building his father a temporary house with bamboo reeds after it was badly damaged. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Teresa Luna

Teresa Luna, 49, a seamstress, poses for a portrait with her dog Dokie, next to part of her house which was badly damaged after an earthquake in Chietla, Mexico, September 28, 2017. With the help of her family Luna was able to rescue some furniture. “The most valuable thing that I recovered was my dog,” Luna said. She is living in her backyard and hopes to return when the damage is repaired. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Miguel Najera

Miguel Najera, 50, a farm worker, poses for a portrait on the rubble of his house after an earthquake in San Jose Platanar, at the epicentre zone, Mexico, September 28, 2017. The house was very badly damaged, but with the help of his family Najera was able to rescue some furniture. He is living in another room of his house and hopes to repair the damage as soon as possible. “I hope that together with my family we will get ahead, I have brothers in the U.S. and I hope they can help me,” Najera said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Cenobia Riquelme

Cenobia Riquelme, 76, a housewife who suffers from Alzheimer’s, poses for a portrait next to her house after an earthquake in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, September 29, 2017. Riquelme’s house was very badly damaged and her husband was killed. She and her husband were crushed by the rubble. Her husband could not be rescued, but Cenobia was rescued by a soldier. She is living in the backyard and could return to home once it’s rebuilt. Her son Sebastian (not pictured) said: “My mother searches for my father to make his lunch. This is all very sad and I am worried.” (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Jaime Delgado

Jaime Delgado, 21, an agricultural worker, poses for a portrait on rubble in an area where he helped rescue people, after an earthquake in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, September 30, 2017. His house was not damaged. “A lady died here, crushed by the rubble. All this is over, now I searches pieces of iron to sell. My economic situation is bad”, Delgado said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Maria Isabel Alvarado

Maria Isabel Alvarado, 75, a housewife, poses for a portrait on a street outside her house after an earthquake in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, September 29, 2017. Her house suffered minor damage. “I wanted nothing to happen to my family and my colonial dining room,” Alvarado said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Luis Garcia

Luis Garcia, 79, a bricklayer, poses for a portrait outside a house that he built, after an earthquake in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, September 30, 2017. The sign reads, “HA” which means habitable. “No house that I built was damaged by the earthquake,” Garcia said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Maria Trinidad Gonzalez

Maria Trinidad Gonzalez, 41, a housewife, holds some cookware as she poses for a portrait on the rubble of her house after an earthquake in Tepalcingo, Mexico, September 29, 2017. The house was badly damaged, but with the help of her family and soldiers Gonzalez rescued some furniture. She lives in her backyard and hopes to return home once it’s rebuilt. “The most valuable thing that I recovered was my cookware,” Gonzalez said. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)