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Two Weeks After Ecuador Earthquake, Aid Continues To Arrive, Including From Phoenix

(Photo courtesy of Eduardo Naranjo for Catholic Relief Services)
The April 16 earthquake devastated several coastal towns in Ecuador.

Many Ecuadorians are still sleeping outside and struggling to find food and water following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that was felt throughout the country nearly two weeks ago. The hardest hit areas were located along the country’s coast, and the death toll in those areas continues to rise. Humanitarian aid is making its way to the South American country, and some of that assistance is coming from Phoenix.

Tom Hollywood is the Catholic Relief Services representative in South America. He is in the town of San Jose de Chamanga, which is in the province of Esmeraldas, one of two hard hit areas. "It’s an area that’s very poor, just looking at it right now, it’s littered with houses that are very weak," he said.

Hollywood added that this part of the country is already reeling from El Nino rains that caused landslides and flooding. Humanitarian aid is making its way to Ecuador, but it might not be enough. "I was just talking to some of our local church partners, and they told me that in the outlying areas of the city of 8,000 there are several communities that still need aid where help has not reached them," he explained.

Hollywood says the scope of work that still needs to be done is extraordinary. "Just this week we travelled throughout the entire earthquake zone, maybe not even all of it, and it was 2,000 kilometers."

In Phoenix, the effort to provide aid is already underway. Patricio Herrera is the consulate general here in the Valley. Herrera’s office is currently accepting material donations such as non-perishable food like rice and powdered milk. They’ll also accept personal hygiene products and diapers and diaper wipes.

He says volunteers will drive to Los Angeles this weekend to deliver the kits. From there, they’ll be sent to Ecuador. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.