A Los Angeles production crew shooting a television pilot captured the chaos and huge swells on the Xochimilco canals in Mexico City when the terrifying temblor hit on Tuesday.
"It was scary just because we didn't have any idea what was going on. We didn't know where the waves were coming from, why it was happening, how much worse it was going to get, when it was going to stop, and it felt like it went for a while," recalled Lauren Smith, who was part of the production crew.
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Smith returned home on Wednesday, after the experience she said she will never forget.
Her nerve-raddling ride on the boat was a precursor to the shocking scene back on land.
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"As we got back into the city, we saw the crumbled buildings and the ambulances and just hundreds of people out on the street because they had to get out in case there was a gas leak," Smith said. "When you see people crying on the street, it starts to really sink in - how bad it was."
Smith said her hotel was damaged but still functioning. Shaken by the scene, she and the rest of the crew rushed out to help, joining hundreds of others who were desperate to rescue the injured.
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"It was heartwarming to see how many people came together to try to do what they could, whatever they could," Smith said.
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She added that those images and the experience are permanently seared in her memory.
"It's really surreal when you're in it," Smith shared. "It's different when you see it in real life, as opposed to when you look at a picture."