7.8M Earthquake in Ecuador - April 2016
Humanity First Response
About halfway through our last Humanity First Disaster Response course, in April 2016, there was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the north of Ecuador. Once a decision was made to send an HF assessment team, Brian Wilson and I hastily made arrangements with work and family, then flew back to Toronto overnight before meeting up with our third team member, Dana Periard, and flying back out again in the morning, destination Quito. We were picked up at the airport by the fourth member of our team, Zahir Ahmed, a Spanish-speaking resident of Quito, and off we went…
The first few days of our mission were spent making plans to get closer to the epicenter, and distributing supplies to communities in Quito. The Ecuadorian government and the UN had set up a command centre in the town of Portoviejo, so we set out through the Andes in our rental truck.
Upon arrival we found the UN OSOCC (On-Site Operations Coordination Centre) tent and immediately got to work assisting the UN with their assessments of the affected areas – which communities needed help, and what exactly were they in need of.
The Humanity First team focused our efforts on three communities – a health clinic in Manta, an IDP camp in Crucita, and the barrio of Maria Flores in Portoviejo. With our NOAH water purification unit and chlorine tablets we were able to provide these communities with clean drinking water. We also consulted community leaders to ascertain specific needs of the community members, and were able to distribute hundreds pounds of rice, dozens of bottles of sunscreen and bug repellant, and several different sizes of baby diapers.
While Brian and I were preparing to return to Canada, Dana had decided to stay on for another several days to help build latrines in Crucita. By the time he left he and community members had resourced materials and built a couple of latrines for the camp.
By the end of our ten day deployment we did feel some sadness and frustration at the thought there was still much work to be done to rebuild the community.
had made many new friends, and felt satisfaction knowing that at least some of
the needs of these wonderful, gracious people had been met by Humanity First.