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Dispatches From Mexico City: Asking The Tough Questions

Author: Ty Trumbull
It’s weird leaving Mexico City behind (temporarily) after a natural disaster has hit it. But here I am in Canada recovering from my cousin’s wedding, preparing to celebrate (Canadian) Thanksgiving with the rest of my family. Still, as I take my temporary leave, Mexico is already showing signs of improvement. The IMF recently raised Mexico’s growth forecast, despite the uncertainty around the current NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) talks and the recent tremors that shook the capital. The IMF has raised its growth prediction for Mexico's economy in 2017 from 1.9 percent to 2.1 percent. In the second quarter, the economy grew 0.6 percent fueled by the services sector, which makes up 60 percent of the country’s GDP.

Life In The City

With each passing day, life is returning to normal in Mexico. Today, 6,333 Mexico City schools returned to normal operations after a three-week break. Some students returned to classes last week, but it’s when you see the sheer number of students affected by the crisis, the full scope of the event really begins to sink in. On a normal day, there are slightly more than 6,000 schools operating in Mexico City. In the 2016-17 school year, there were 36,604,251 students from preschool to postsecondary. Only schools that pass the structural safety inspection may resume activities, and there are still many that authorities haven’t gotten to yet. But the process will continue until every school in the capital is inspected, authorities assured.

Asking Questions

But while the digging out has mostly ceased, there are many questions surrounding the level of damage. In this modern world, and in a region so prone to quakes, most people believed newer buildings were supposed to survive any tremors. Now, engineers say many of the lives lost in the earthquake could have been saved with better construction practices. Around two-thirds of the 44 buildings that collapsed in the capital were designed with a construction method called flat slab, according to data compiled by a team of structural engineers at Stanford University and obtained by The Associated Press. Flat slab, when floors are supported only by concrete columns, is now illegal in many parts of the U.S., Chile, and New Zealand. And so in Mexico these days, it isn’t just students being asked the questions. Experts must decide which standards worked and which ones failed in order that everyone might move forward.
Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday or so (heck, sometimes Wednesday), he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City.