October 7…25 years ago!

Some details of this story you are about to read were taken from the October 6th edition of El Periódico La Perla.

 My blog is about any voice-over related topic. However, this blog article that is been written today October 7, 2010 is about a topic that is completely unrelated to voice-over…although there are some voices involved in the situation I’m going to write about.

Twenty-five years ago, occurred one of the saddest events of Puerto Rican history and especially of my city Ponce…the mudslide of Mameyes. What was Mameyes? It was a neighborhood located at the bottom of a mountain, populated by many families with limited economic resources. Unfortunately, on October 7, 1985 the neighborhood Mameyes was buried by a huge mudslide caused by a heavy rain that poured over the city during many days before the fatal event. The dead and the disappeared could not be neither counted nor rescued and entire families died in the mud. The people who, by that time, were old enough to remember what happened that day, say they heard a really loud and strong thunder which has not been heard ever again…moments before the tragedy. Everybody remember that day like if it was yesterday. My oldest sister told me that “it was a really sad event for Ponce” and that “if she could retrieve from her mind a picture of the neighborhood, it won’t look the same when compared to the new neighborhood”. During the week that fatal event happened, my father was about to retire as a law enforcement officer and also remember the tremendous thunder that preceeded the mudslide.

Some journalists and a fellow photojournalist (yes, I’m also a photographer) rushed to the site of the catastrophe to cover the story, however, they had to put aside their duties as journalists and start to rescue as many people as they could. They could hear the voices of people coming from the mud and when they got their arms into the muddy soil, they could feel the hands of people that were under the mud trying to cling to their hands in a desperate attempt of being rescued. In fact, the photographer Edgar Vazquez (the photojournalist I just mentioned) lost his camera when trying to save a 9-year old girl that was under the rubble of a house. Also, many more died in a related event more than 15 miles away from Mameyes, when a bridge just went down due to the heavy rain, taking with “him” the lives of both civilians and law enforcement officers that were in the area. Another bridge came down in a nearby city and took the lives of couple that were driving by the area and one of the finest Puerto Rican journalists, Luis Penchi, was speechless when he saw that. The event was so awful, that even The New York Times sent correspondents to Puerto Rico to cover that story.

Today, twenty-five years later, the voices of the survivors are still heard all around the island claiming for justice and a real change not only for their neighborhood, but also for their lives. The voices of those who died in that fatal event are still heard loud and clear both in our minds and our hearts, even in mine, a young man that was only 3 years old by that time. This article was written in loving memory of those who died and in dedication of those who survived, as a way to say to them: WE ARE WITH YOU, WE REMEMBER YOU AND WE LOVE YOU ALL! Amen!

I hope you all liked my article. Warm greetings from my city Ponce, Puerto Rico. I love you all! 🙂

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