The Aftermath Of Ecuador’s 2016 Earthquake

Doesn’t it feel like 2016 happened over a century ago? Do you even remember the major things that happened in 2016? With all that has happened in 2017, and even the first month of 2018, the world just seems like constant chaos. For me though, there is one extremely major — and personal — event that happened in 2016 that I will never let go of: the earthquake that happened in Ecuador with a high magnitude of 7.8. I still remember the screaming call we received from one of my aunts that day and how scared she was and the amount of terrible background cries and sirens. It was traumatizing and I wasn't even there. Mind you the earthquake happened only a few months after I had visited Ecuador. I try going at the beginning of every year to receive the New Year with my entire family and just be with them. So, you never know, it could've happened when I was there. That thought always haunts my mind. I still remember reading articles from major news sources and Buzzfeed about the earthquake and how each hour the number of deaths went up. Well, then 2017 comes around and for once we couldn’t really go to Ecuador, so we just stayed in New York and celebrated. Sadly a few weeks into January one of my cousins died so we immediately got on a plane and headed to Ecuador. In that moment in time all that clouded my mind was my cousins death. I wasn’t thinking about anything else. I got to the house and had completely forgotten that the family dog had recently passed — he was my best friend ever since I was born, so you would imagine how terrible I felt forgetting that. I had completely forgotten that I had a new baby cousin, which I'm the biggest family person so you would imagine how even worse my mind got. And on top of that, I had to travel around my broken down city that was extremely shattered to pieces everywhere I looked and me completely not remembering about the earthquake felt like every media site and the way society is today. We talk about something extreme for a few days, forget about it and move on to the next, completely forgetting about the after effects of something like a natural disaster, a shooting, or even one of the biggest issues today, sexual harassment.

I went almost a whole year after the earthquake and my city looked like it had just happened yesterday. There were so many roads blocked, there were huge areas closed from the public. Imagine Manhattan being closed from everyone, it was equivalent to that. There was way too much cement and bricks. Everyone needed to make a house everywhere, there were holes in between homes, there was crosses at almost every street. The list seriously goes on and on. The worst part? Nothing was truly being done. People had forgotten about the earthquake and Ecuadorians were struggling. It’s no secret we aren't the wealthiest country, so honestly we needed help.

Well, time has passed and now we’re in 2018, two whole years later so you would assume that things are better, right? I just came back from a month long trip from Ecuador and it was great to be able to be with my family for so long. What wasn't so great about it? Still seeing the conditions of my hometown. And this time I traveled to take some pictures of the cities Portoviejo and Manta. In Manta, there is a whole small town that is called “Zone Zero”. It is supposed to be closed off because no one can really live there since all the houses and buildings are too unstable to live in or be around but some people will not leave their homes and still live there. At night, it becomes one of the most dangerous places to be. There are a lot of robberies and illegal things done there. In Portoviejo, a place called Bahia Rio, which used to be a big commercial center was completely ruined but is now known for teens to go in and do illegal drugs.

Some buildings are barely standing. There are some that have cardboard as windows and cracks throughout the entire facade. Look at this one house that was broken down and all that was left was the front exterior of the windows and door.

Remember how I said there were holes in between homes? That because buildings completely fell down or they had to tear them down because they were too unstable and if another small tremor happened it would completely fall. How would you feel if your home had to get torn down and you couldn't do anything about it?

I spoke to one of my aunts about her experience during the earthquake. She told me how, thankfully, she wasn’t in the middle of it all, because just that day my other aunt decided she wanted to visit a family friend who was further away from the city. She said a little girl had ran to them and yelled that she couldn't find her mother so my aunts kept her with them until they could safely get her to her mother. My aunts husband however wasn't so lucky. He was working in a huge chain store similar to a Walmart. It was completely shattered at the end, and he thankfully got out with minor injuries but many people had died in that spot. My family stood in a church the week following the earthquake and were extremely scared to go back home. There were tremors everyday, and to this day they still are. I did thankfully see some construction being done so they are trying to help make it better and there are many new things being built. I just pray that my family is safe always and that something like this doesn't happen again.