Former Drumheller family survives Ecuador earthquake
Three former Drumheller residents are safe following a harrowing two days in Ecuador where an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck just 70 kilometres from the epicenter.
Susan Neufeld, her husband Paul Bertamini and their son Ashton live in Puerto Lopez, a fishing village with a population of 16,000. They were enjoying a typical Saturday evening when the quake struck.
“We were having pizza at our neighbours when the quake struck, most fami- lies are at home for dinner at this time of night,” explains Neufeld. “The first ten seconds was kind of gentle shaking and then the next fifty seconds were far more violent. The buildings were moving, power poles swaying, things crashing all around us, people screaming. We tried to get as far away from buildings as we could, and it was really hard to walk. Within minutes of the quake, a tsunami threat was imminent and we all headed to our place on higher ground.”
States of emergency have been declared in many of the cities and towns throughout the country. More than 2,5000 have been injured and the death toll is in the area of 300, and continues to climb. The village they live in is about 70 kilometres from Muisne, another village at the epicenter, and 300 kilometres from Pedernales, a city of 40,000 which has suffered extensive damage. Just 24 hours earlier they were through the communities of Manta and Portoviejo, which were also devastated.
“Fifteen homes in Puerto Lopez were completely destroyed and several businesses sustained structural damage. All businesses, hotels and hosterias were closed today to assess the damage. As scary as this earthquake was our town faired pretty good,” said Neufeld. “We are getting reports from Emergency Facebook Groups as to statistics and evacuation routes. Right now, all roads north of Puerto Lopez are closed, cutting us off from the cities. The south exit has been cleared. The roads in our town are all good as are the bridges.”
The family was very prepared for the quake, and was able to help their neighbours. Neufeld explains that they experienced a quake a few years earlier and because of it they built their house to withstand a quake and it did. They were also set up with food and water for survival and a back-up power generator.
“We had approximately 40 people taking refuge at our home, some stayed till the
The first ten seconds was kind of gentle shaking and then the next fifty seconds were far more violent." Susan Neufeld
early hours of the 17th when all threat of a tsunami was lifted and others had to stay over night as their homes were unsafe to return to. Many of them slept in lawn chairs in our gazebos and some slept in the house, and we did not sleep at all. Many other neighbours went higher up the hills, lit fires and slept on the ground with their children,” she said. “It was a long, frightful night for everyone!”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone in Ecuador who has suffered from this horrible disaster. So many lost everything. We thank God that we and all our friends are safe. We plan to stay close to home for awhile, it is much safer here.”
Susan says at this point the country of Ecuador is focused on rescue efforts. They need to supply medical and basic needs to survivors and therefore are in desperate need of financial aid.
"We personally are collecting clothing, shoes, blankets, bottled water and canned food to send to areas in desperate need. We are also contributing financially for the transportation of these goods. Much of which will have to go by boat to reach these towns.”
"Because some of the banks were destroyed in the earthquake, cash is not readily available in the country right now. Businesses and banks in Puerto Lopez and south of us opened today, but have limited cash and purchases. A shortage of everything will soon affect everyone living in Ecuador."
Canadians can make contributions to the Canadian Red Cross “Ecuador Earthquake Appeal”.
Susan Neufeld, her husband Paul Bertamini and son Ashton have been living in Ecuador since 2012. Susan shared some dramatic photos in the aftermath of last weekend's earthquake. The family is safe and are sharing their story.
Susan Neufeld shared these dramatic images of the damaged caused by an earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale in Ecuador.