I was on board a taxi on my way to the airport in Mexico City. I was having a nice conversation with the driver. This is Friday Afternoon traffic, which is all but light. However, we had passed a knot of traffic, and were moving at a fair speed.
“Is that the seismic alarm?’ The driver asked.
I had never heard them, and we had a truck besides us. I thought it was the truck. Traffic stopped, and within 70 seconds the shaking started. It was not intense at first, but afterwards it became somewhat intense. While it felt as if it lasted a long time, it likely was less than a minute. Perceptions tend to be off. I know this from my years in EMS.
No vehicle moved until the shaking stopped. This matters, and why seismic alarms do work. It was not just the traffic around us. All trains from the metro system and light rail system did stop as well before the waves reached the city. Buildings were evacuated. Civil defense activated the Command Center.
This also happened on Sep 7, when the quake had an epicenter in Chiapas. On the 19th it was much closer to the city, in the State of Morelos, and when the alarms started to wail, the first seismic waves hit. Time\distance matters for these alarms.
I was flying out of Mexico City. My first question at the ticket counter for the airline was the obvious one. “Is the airport closed?” I know that they need to check the infrastructure. It matters not where a 7.2 in the Richter scale happens. I was surprised to hear that no, normal operations were continuing as normal.
I went through security. It was a long way in, and to the gate. The official Twitter feed for the airport did state that they were checking infrastructure. We were informed we were delayed after boarding, as they had to check fuel lines. I know they also checked things like runway integrity.
It is good to see that countries are deploying life saving technology. It is impressive to see all kinds of drivers come to a full stop. California was considering piloting similar technology. We know we do not need to prove that water is wet. I witnessed the technology at work today.
Oh and yes, telephones were sketchy, but I managed to let family know I was fine. SMS worked, so did Facebook.