For­mer Drumheller fam­ily sur­vives Ecuador earth­quake

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

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”.

photos sub­mit­ted

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.

sub­mit­ted

Su­san Neufeld shared th­ese dra­matic images of the dam­aged caused by an earth­quake that mea­sured 7.8 on the Richter scale in Ecuador.

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