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World

One Reporter Shares The 'Extraordinary Generosity' She Saw After Mexico City's Earthquake

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When the massive earthquake rocked Mexico City yesterday, people ran out of swaying buildings to escape collapse and injury. One of them was freelance reporter Emily Green. She says there's one thing in particular that's sticking with her during the aftermath of this disaster.

EMILY GREEN, BYLINE: Generosity - the extraordinary generosity shown me as my world and everybody else's world was falling down around us was truly breathtaking. When the earthquake hit, I was on the phone interviewing the showrunner for the hit Netflix series, "Club De Cuervos." We didn't say goodbye. I said, I got to go and started running down eight flights of stairs barefoot with glass windows shattering around me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIRENS)

GREEN: When I finally made it outside, I started sobbing uncontrollably. A man I had never met - a tamale vendor - put his arms around me and hugged me for nearly a full minute before I collected myself.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: The next thing I knew, a woman was taking her shoes off and giving me her socks to protect my feet. I spent most of the afternoon wandering around disaster areas in those socks. I met one woman who was taking refuge in the park with her young children. She insisted that I eat the Mexican equivalent of a Twinkie. The sugar, she told me, would do me good. She was right. And then there were the various people who let me sit in their cars and charge my phone.

That evening, I needed to reach the one place I knew had Internet service. I saw a man on a motorcycle and asked him if he was headed in the direction I needed to go. He wasn't. Still, he took off his helmet, gave it to me and, for 30 minutes, drove me through jam-packed streets to my destination.

And when I thought people could not get any kinder, there was the security guard at the Reuters news agency office where I'd gone to file my story. She saw me limping and, in the middle of filing my story, insisted that I take off my shoes so she could clean my feet with alcohol and clean out the cuts.

I have never lived through a massive natural disaster like this. I have heard stories of enormous kindness during such times, like when people risked their lives to rescue stranded residents during Hurricane Harvey. And I know in a crisis, people can be the worst or the best. I was lucky that here in Mexico City, I experienced the very best. For NPR News, I'm Emily Green in Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.