It’s too early to write a comprehensive post about last night’s 7.8 earthquake about 100 miles from us off the Ecuador coast. But I (Jody) have just a few reflections.
What we experienced
Just after sunset, we felt a gentle rocking which just kept going for what seemed like forever. (It was actually 40 seconds.) As it continued the building was swaying and we could hear rumbling outside. It took a few seconds to realize we should leave the building, as we kept thinking it was going to stop. But when we got to the street, we were the only ones that we could see in our very long block. Maybe people weren’t home; it’s always hard to tell beause people keep their curtains closed. But there definitely was no panic in our very densely populated neighborhood.
[Update: we have since learned that it is better to get under a heavy table or desk rather than leave the building during a quake.]
Afterwards our lights dimmed a few times, but our power and internet stayed on. We have a guest from the U.S. with us and he and I started sending out messages letting people know we were o.k. (Scott doesn’t do social media, although he kept us updated on news.)
Late last night our church sent out a WhatsApp message saying that all large gatherings were cancelled until further notice and there would be no church today. We went to church anyway this a.m., thinking maybe the ban might be lifted in Quito since there’s almost no damage here. But the gates were locked, so not chance to pray corporately for those on the coast.
What we’re hearing
At least three earthquakes occurred off the Ecuadorean coast within a short period of time: 4.8 (Pedernales, Manabí), 7.8 (Muisne, Esmeraldas), and 5.4 (Bahía de Caráquez, Manabí). Dozens of aftershocks happened on the coast.
Preliminary estimates are 77 killed and 600 injured, but there is very little information coming out of the hardest hit areas. Between Quito and Esmeraldas the elevation drops about 10,000 ft in about 100 miles, so the roads are steep, curvy, and prone to landslides, especially with the heavy rains we’ve been having. Roads are closed but we’re not sure yet which ones. There are small airports in some of the larger coastal towns and I suspect disaster relief will flow through them rather than by road from Quito.
We talked briefly with an Ecuadorean neighbor this morning and he lamented that Ecuador doesn’t have the economic resources to cope with a disaster of this magnitude. “Estamos en crisis economica.” (We’re in an economic crisis.) I pray that other nations will respond generously to help recovery, and especially that Christians will be the hands of Jesus to help in small and big ways.
I’m sure our organization (Reach Beyond) will be trying to send doctors, nurses, water engineers, and who ever else can be of use as soon as possible, although transportation will be a problem. I’m sure we have to get government approval to proceed; please pray that the paperwork will go smoothly and the red tape minimized.
I just got a phone call from an Ecuadorean co-worker checking to make sure we were ok. She ended with (in Spanish), “Call me if you need anything.” This is a country of brave and big-hearted people, however financially poor they are. We are blessed to be here and are ready to help however we can. Thank you for your prayers.