Stefan Strangman and his wife Nicole Misener of Calgary were only a few days into their honeymoon visiting the Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico City on Tuesday, when the ground started to move.
“It felt like a bouncy castle or a trampoline…you had no control over it. We didn’t know at first it was an earthquake,” Strangman said.
It wasn’t until Strangman and Misener were evacuated that the full impact of the human toll hit them. They saw people on the streets that were hit by falling debris, a result of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake.
“I think the worst of what we saw was there was a crushed car. The passenger area was completely caved in. We saw somebody being pulled out of it we didn’t know if they were alive or dead,” Strangman said.
The only way back to their rental apartment was to walk the eight kilometers, weaving through debris and broken gas lines.
“We saw a lot on those eight kilometres, including people that were injured and possibly dead,” Strangman said. “We made it out with another Calgarian, so at least we had someone to talk to but we were still all in shock.”
“There were collapsed buildings. There was a completely levelled five story building. And part of the education ministry building, part of that was completely levelled too. So places that we had just walked by for the past few days that were totally fine, were now either completely rubble or very seriously damaged.”
With three days left in their vacation and no power or water at their apartment, the couple did what they could to help. They bought bottles of water and handed them out to exhausted rescuers who were pulling survivors out of the rubble.
“As soon as they find somebody, everybody cheers. It was incredible to witness an entire city coming together like that,” Strangman said.
While Strangman is thankful to be able to return to Calgary, he says part of him wishes he was still in Mexico, helping survivors.
“It’s weird leaving a disaster area to come home. I didn’t feel right about it. There were a lot of people in a lot of pain down there and it didn’t feel right to leave,” Strangman said.