Los Angeles City Councilman Arthur K. Snyder, back from a weekend trip to Mexico City, said Monday that relief officials there are asking for demolition equipment and volunteers with expertise in demolition, rescue and communications work.
Saying the City of Los Angeles cannot provide the equipment, Snyder appealed for donations from the private sector.
Snyder and Deputy Mayor Grace Davis met Saturday with Mexico City officials to obtain a list of urgently needed goods and equipment that people in Los Angeles could help supply.
Much of the list, provided by Pedro Ojeda Paullada, Mexico’s minister of fisheries and an official in charge of cleanup and rescue operations, consists of heavy equipment needed to remove heavy debris.
Needed Items Listed
Needed are: equipment to cut through concrete rubble; water purification equipment; insecticides and large-scale applicators; equipment used to control gas leaks; air blowers to ventilate areas where people may be trapped; tents, cots, sheets and blankets, and demolition and rescue equipment, including skiploaders, compressors, dump trucks, bulldozers, mobile cranes, back hoes and masks for rescue workers.
In addition, the Mexican authorities asked for volunteers who know how to operate such equipment.
Snyder said that the city’s Board of Public Works will coordinate acceptance and transport of the donations that, he said, should be on the way to Mexico City by the end of the week.
Snyder also said that volunteers are needed in Los Angeles to make telephone calls to a long list of people in this country who cannot be reached by relatives in Mexico seeking to reassure them of their safety.
Appearing at a press conference Monday, Snyder was joined by Red Cross official Ralph Wright, who said the Red Cross has taken charge of assembling medical supplies also requested by Mexican officials.
Enough Food, Clothing
Snyder and Wright urged people not to donate medicine and also said that Mexican relief centers have received more food and clothes than needed.
“They don’t want food and clothing,” Snyder said.
Wright said his agency has begun shipping medical supplies on commercial flights, adding that a “fantastic” amount of money came into Red Cross offices over the weekend.
Relief funds will also be raised from about 1 million visitors expected at this weekend’s Street Scene Festival, Snyder said. Ironically, the theme of the downtown arts fair had earlier been designated as fighting human suffering.
Snyder and Davis, who returned from Mexico Sunday evening, said they made a brief tour of the city. They said the devastated area is as large as the section of Los Angeles stretching from downtown to Beverly Hills and from Sunset to Olympic Boulevards. In many areas, there was little sign of disruption but elsewhere there was abundant evidence of a monumental catastrophe, Snyder said.
“All you have to do is walk down the streets and smell the stench of rotting flesh and see the rescue workers swarming like ants across the wreckage to know that there has been a gigantic disaster,” Snyder said.
Asked his reaction to the State Department’s request that local officials not travel to Mexico, Snyder replied, “I never comment on the federal government’s attitude toward Mexico.”
Davis said it was Snyder’s contacts in Mexico City that enabled Los Angeles officials to begin responding to the needs of the earthquake victims.
Statewide Task Force
Meanwhile, California’s elected officials set up a statewide task force Monday to coordinate relief efforts for Mexico, and urged citizens to donate heavy equipment to the earthquake-ravaged country.
State Sen. Art Torres, who represents much of East Los Angeles where many residents are Mexican citizens or have relatives there, talked to state officials including Gov. George Deukmejian to arrange the task force.
Torres said he also spoke with officials in other border states, hoping to extend the task force’s work into those areas.
“It’s clear to me there is no specific coordination occurring,” he said. “Nobody is grabbing the bull by the horns.
“The key in this dilemma is that help has to be channeled in a specific direction. The outpouring has been tremendous.”