The Organizational And Public Response To The September 1985 Earthquake In Mexico City, Mexico

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This publication, apart from meeting a formal NSF reporting requirement, is intended for many audiences. As a general statement, it is primarily aimed at disaster policy makers, disaster planners, and disaster researchers. While we think what is said can benefit many others ranging from at one end--social and behavioral scientists abstractly interested in responses to collective stress situations--and at the other end--to many operational personnel concerned with the specifics of dealing with human and social responses to earthquakes--some of our other publications more specifically target them as prime audiences. Part I of the report provides an introduction to the study. It gives a brief overall account of the sociophysical aspects of the earthquake and its impact in Mexico City, discusses how a close collaboration was developed with Mexican colleagues prior to DRC doing any research on this disaster, and indicates the kinds of data that were obtained and how they were analyzed by both DRC staff members and our counterparts in Mexico.In Part II we use two major population surveys to describe and analyze the behavior of individual citizens after the disaster. The first survey, undertaken less than three weeks after the earthquake, allows us to depict the impact consequences, the mass communication behavior of the victims, their volunteer behavior, and the attitudes and evaluations that the population had about governmental and other impact-related activities. The second survey, done about a year later, permits us to discuss the longer run earthquake problems as seen by citizens, their attitudes about the handling of disaster related problems, and what people learned from the experience of the disaster. Part III includes our discussion of organizational behavior in the aftermath of the disaster. First we depict the very complex governmental structure in Mexico City and the general lack of prior disaster planning, both of which significantly affected the organizational response to the earthquake. Then we present a picture of the major organizational responses in the first three days after impact, separately followed by a selective depiction of the organized responses of both governmental and private organizations up to the end of the emergency period, approximately a two week time span. In Part IV we further make explicit the major research findings or themes of our study, briefly examine the extent to which they might be applicable to an earthquake disaster in the United States, and indicate what future research ought to explore.
Organizational Response, Public Response, Mexico City, Mexico, 1985 Earthquake, Sociocultural Values, Organizational Behavior