Thursday, April 21, 2016

The 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake in Ecuador

Last Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 6:58 PM, Mark and I were sitting in our living room when we felt a "trembler"; we get them occasionally and never think twice about them. As California natives, we don't consider them noteworthy. But this one was different -- a lot different! The trembler got more intense and then shook hard as we watched the pictures fall  from the shelves and the lamps swing back and forth. The shaking continued for a good minute. We heard children crying in our building and watched as neighbors ran out of their condo complex. The swaying of our building was a "little" unnerving as we watched other buildings do the same thing with windows bulging. 

For quite some time afterward, I still felt like I was on a roller coaster and then I turned to Mark and said,  "Wherever the epicenter is; it's going to be horrific." The "trember" turned out to be a 7.8 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter in Pedernales.

7.8 Magnitude Earthquake -- April 16, 2016

Mark and I have always lived in earthquake-prone areas (California, Italy and now Ecuador). We knew about Ecuador's history of earthquakes,  but we figured it came with the territory. We've actually been in two big earthquakes since we've been here (2010 and 2016).

Ecuador is in the "Ring of Fire" which is a horseshoe-shaped ring stretching from Japan and moving around to Alaska, down the coast of Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Central American, and South America. 

Ring of Fire 

The April 16th earthquake was the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979. 
 For the complete list of the earthquakes in Ecuador, click here

There was only minor damage experienced in Cuenca from Saturday's earthquake, but on the coast it was a different story and we're only beginning to understand the true devastation as many of the roads along the coast have been damaged, making access to some areas further inland more difficult.

To date there are 577 dead with the most casualties felt in Manta and Pedernales; 5,733 injured and 163 missing. We have friends who have been to the hardest hit areas and they can only describe it as utter devastation. Pedernales doesn't even exist any longer.

There are three zones in Ecuador:"The coast is Zone I  for earthquakes; Zone II is the Quito area in the northern Andes, which has many semi-active volcanoes; Cuenca, in the southern Andes, is in Zone III, and has not had a major earthquake in 500 years; and the Amazonias (Oriente), in eastern Ecuador is the least susceptible area to earthquakes."  No one can predict natural disasters, but if you live in Zone I and II, then you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. You have to decide if the view of the Pacific Ocean every day is going to make your life more stressful or more enjoyable. 

Ecuadorian Coastline 

We love the Ecuadorian Coast and vacation there every chance we get and we've often talked about buying a place on the coast -- like Salinas, but Saturday's earthquake pretty much sealed the deal for us. We're staying in Cuenca until God calls us home. 

After Saturday's earthquake many have asked us if we're moving back to the States and I understand their concern, but we don't scare that easily and most of our lives have been spent in earthquake-prone areas. Ecuador's earthquake has destroyed the coast and it will be years before it will be rebuilt, but the Ecuadorian people are resourceful and resilient and I know that with proper planning the new coastline will be safer and stronger. Even as recovery efforts are still ongoing, engineers are planning the next phase. We know that the structures that withstood the earthquake were made from bamboo and wood--not stone or cement. We've seen some of the plans suggested and it makes perfect sense that in the future the structures should be flexible--not rigid. 

The outpouring of support for Ecuador has been so heartwarming and the relief efforts have been nothing short of miraculous. It hasn't even been a week since the quake hit and the outpouring of support from around the world has been so encouraging. There are donation drop-off stations all over town and caravans of trucks and airplanes bring in supplies daily to the hardest hit areas, but so much more needs to be done as we're only beginning to understand the long road ahead of us.

The poorest of the poor are giving what they have to help their neighbors on the coast and this earthquake has already stretched this country that has already been knocked down by the lowering of oil prices -- Ecuador's major export. But we're like a reed bending to the force of the wind and soon we will stand tall and stronger than before.

If you would like to help with the relief efforts, there are so many organizations that are available -- from the Samaritan's Purse Ministry by Franklin Graham to Cruz Roja (Red Cross) of Ecuador --where you can make a donation. No gift is too small. 

In the meantime, if you're planning  a trip to Ecuador, don't cancel it. The coast was ravaged by this earthquake, but there are still the southern beach towns like Salinas (the little Miami of Ecuador) that was kept out of harm's way; Quito is open and ready for business; Cuenca was spared any damage; and, of course, the Galapagos Islands were completely spared. One of Ecuador's greatest sources of income is the tourism industry and want you to experience this beautiful country and its warmhearted people they way we have.
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love, care and concern for Ecuador and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. 

Until next time...hasta luego, 

Connie and Mark 


Fred and Patti said...


Thank you so much for giving us a update on you and Mark. My family has been praying for all of Ecuador. I really appreciate your advice on how to contribute to relief efforts. We have made three trips to Ecuador and the country and it's people will always hold a special place in our hearts. I am comforted in knowing that Ecuadorians are ingenious, and will be rebuilding soon. My family will certainly send our financial support to help in the rebuilding efforts. We don't have concrete vacation plans so maybe we will be back in Ecuador soon.

Connie Pombo said...

Thanks so much, Fred and Patti! It's been amazing to see the outpouring of support from everyone around the world. Even the poorest of the poor are giving what they can to help their neighbors on the coast. It's so heartwarming to see. Let us know when you're in Cuenca!

Christine Hainslin said...

Hi Connie and Mark
I've just stumbled across your blog and I'm very grateful for all the information you've shared. My partner and I are heading to Ecuador on Saturday (flying into Guayaquil) and were a little concerned that either it would be hard to get around, or we'd be in the way of relief efforts. I guess it's good to knew that we may be helping, in a minuscule way, just by turning up!
Cuenca is our first stop on a three-week tour, so if you have any advice on where to go it would be much appreciated!

Thanks again!

Connie Pombo said...

Hi Christine,
Thanks for your comment! Yes, by all means come visit our lovely country. You're doing the best thing for us by being a tourist! It's safe to go up to the coast of Ecuador up to Puerto Cayo. Our favorite place -- Puerto Lopez -- and the Hosteria Mandala were unaffected. Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil are lovely places and so much to do. I wrote a post on April 10th on things to see and do while you're in Cuenca. I'll post the link below. In Guayaquil you must visit: Iguana Park, Malecon 2000, Parque Historico and the Botanical Gardens, and Plaza Lagos on Samborondon (exquisite shops and restaurants in the newest and best part of Guayaquil). Here's the link: "What to See While You're in Cuenca"

Enjoy your trip!

Linda said...

Such a great post. Thank you so much for sharing.

Connie Pombo said...

Thank you, Linda! Continue to keep Ecuador in your prayers. The media isn't reporting that much now, but it will take many years for the hard-hit areas along the coast to get back to normal.

Ana Gomez said...

Very nice post. Thank you so much for sharing.

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