When a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit Central Mexico on Sept. 19, the destruction was instantaneous — apartment complexes disappeared in thick clouds of smoke, homes and schools crumbled, buildings exploded into flames.
Ventura Sanchez, 63, inside her house in La Nopalera. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Mexico City and its surrounding states bore the brunt of the devastation. More than 360 people were killed, including 19 children who were inside a school when it collapsed. At least 40 buildings were destroyed, but as many as 1,000 structures may have sustained enough damage to qualify for demolition. Officials say the earthquake may be one of Mexico's costliest natural disasters.
But recovery efforts have been slow. A month after the earthquake, thousands of evacuees are still homeless — staying in shelters, backyard tents, or with friends and relatives. The Mexican government plans to roll out "an ambitious program to cover interim rent payments and provide low-interest housing loans and grants," the Los Angeles Times reports. But for most residents, the question of if or when their homes will be rebuilt by the government or when they can return is largely up in the air.
"We're not sure what's going to happen," one evacuee told the Los Angeles Times. "No one tells us anything. We don't know when we can go back to our homes. It could be months."
In October, Reuters photographer Edgard Garrido joined some of the displaced as they visited the remains of their homes, salvaging what few possessions survived. The photographs are starkly framed with the residents standing in the center of the rubble — kings of their fallen domains.
Below, step into Mexico's ruins to see the scope of what was lost.
Prudencio Gutierrez, 66, a farm worker, in his home in San Francisco Xochiteopan. "The most valuable thing that I recovered was my hat," he told Reuters. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Maria Trinidad Gonzalez, 41, holds some cookware on the rubble of her house in Tepalcingo. She's currently living in in her backyard. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Maria Guzman, 70, on the rubble of her house in San Jose Platanar. She holds a photo of her wedding day, which she found amid the debris. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Teresa Luna, 49, a seamstress, and her dog Dokie sit in her home in Chietla. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Elena Zapata, 69, and her granddaughter Mariana, 3, stand inside the ruins of their house in Tepalcingo. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Rene Contreras, 20, a student, on the rubble of his house in Jojutla de Juarez. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Luis Medina, 36, a farm worker, with his wife Maria Teresa Espinoza, 35, and daughter Maria de Jesus Medina, 9, hold a picture of the Virgin Mary inside their house in San Jose Platanar. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Miguel Najera, 50, a farm worker, on the rubble of his house in San Jose Platanar. | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Catalina Martinez, 78, in the doorway of her house in San Jose Platanar. "I hope the authorities do not deceive us with promises," she told Reuters. "I do not know what's going to happen to us." | (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)