Media CenterCRS Provides Shelter, Water, Hygiene to Ecuador Earthquake Victims

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Updated: April 26, 2016

En español

After working to get five tons of much-needed supplies to earthquake victims this weekend, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) teams in Ecuador are gearing up to help thousands of people build shelters from plastic sheeting and locally-sourced wood.

Using 10,000 tarps that are expected to arrive in Quito by mid-week, CRS emergency teams will begin construction of shelters for families left homeless by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador on April 16, killing nearly 700 people and injuring more than 12,000.

Emergency teams traversed some 2,000 kilometers of hard-hit coastal terrain last week to determine the magnitude of the damage and the immediate needs of those most affected.

“People are understandably very rattled,” said Thomas Hollywood, CRS Representative for South America. “The people we spoke to either cry or become frustrated—there’s no in between—because of so much loss and so much need.”

He said shelter, potable drinking water, hygiene supplies and sanitation systems and psychological support are the most critical needs now.

Hollywood, who was a member of the CRS team that responded to Peru’s earthquake in 2007, said the damage is so widespread in some places that complete resettlement will be needed. It’s not just homes that have been destroyed but also important infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and churches. All told, 7,000 buildings were destroyed in the earthquake and 26,000 people are in need of shelter.

Later this week, CRS teams will distribute the tarps and begin helping families build shelters with frames made from local materials such as bamboo or sugarcane and zinc for the roof. They will also deliver hygiene kits that include soap and toothbrushes to 800 families in Esmeraldas and Manabí, two of the hardest-hit provinces.

CRS plans to reach 20,000 families with services that include shelter, water and sanitation and psychological support.

Meanwhile, CRS and Caritas Ecuador are developing plans to help communities rebuild water systems that were destroyed by the earthquake and build latrines. In the weeks to come, they will also start identifying ways to help families dependent on farming and fishing generate income. 

CRS has worked in Ecuador since the 1960s. Over the past five years, CRS has greatly invested in training Caritas diocesan members on risk mapping, contingency planning, first responders, and other measures in areas prone to flooding, seismic activity, and extreme weather. CRS also has ongoing programming in the affected areas with the Scalabrini Mission Sisters that provide critical humanitarian, psychological, social, livelihood and legal aid to Colombian refugees.

For information on How to Help, please visit our donation page or call toll free 877-435-7277 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time. 

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Updated: April 17, 2016

En español

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is working with Caritas partners in Ecuador to reach some of the country’s remote areas that suffered grave damage in the April 16 earthquake.

The magnitude 7.8 quake, one of the most powerful in Latin America over the last two decades, is known to have killed over 400 people with the toll still rising.

As emergency teams made their way to the devastated coast Wednesday morning, a new tremor shook the country, the strongest aftershock since Sunday. There was no immediate report of further damage. 

“Much of the focus of rescue and relief operations has been in cities along the coast,” said Thomas Hollywood, CRS Representative for South America. “So we are working to get to the interior coastal area that is not getting a lot of attention.”

The focus will be on Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces that extend from the coast inland into more mountainous areas, where there are reports of widespread destruction in places that were not far from the earthquake’s epicenter.

“People in these areas are very poor. They do not have a lot to fall back on,” said Hollywood who had heard of places where 90 percent of the homes were destroyed with many injured still without aid.

“We know that they will need shelter, water and food, but we must get in there and see exactly what the situation is so our response can help as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” he said.

Complicating operations is that Ecuador is in the midst of its rainy season compounded by El Niño that makes transportation difficult in the best of years. With the earthquake damaging the wet roads and other infrastructure, it will be even more of a challenge to reach all of those in need.

“We are still grasping the magnitude and scope of the damage,” Hollywood said. “This story is far from over.”

CRS has worked in Ecuador since the 1960s. Over the past five years, CRS has greatly invested in training Caritas diocesan members on risk mapping, contingency planning, first responders, and other measures in areas prone to flooding, seismic activity, and extreme weather.  CRS also has ongoing programming in the affected areas with the Scalabrini Mission Sisters that provide critical humanitarian, psychological, social, livelihood and legal aid to Colombian refugees.  

For information on how you can help, please visit our donation page. 
or call 
toll free 877-435-7277 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Kim Pozniak

Director of Communications

Kim Pozniak
April 20, 2016

Based in Baltimore, MD

As the Director of Communications, Kim overseas the communications and social media teams working with journalists and the media to connect them with engaging stories about relief and development programs that are making a tangible difference in people’s lives around the world.

Her previous work at CRS includes handling emergency...More