by Court Rand
On the night of April 16th, I was with my parents, Sylvain, our mechanic Diego Ordoñez and his wife Nancy Rogel and their three kids. We were enjoying the beach when the quake struck. We ran outside. The ground moved for another 45 seconds.
We headed across the street leading to Shanti Lodge. There was a landslide. So we tried to head south towards the inland hamlet of Rio Canoa. We couldn’t cross the bridge. Very close by, people we had met the night before were trapped in a house. Fortunately, Maija - who is trained as a nurse - was so calm and following perfect first aid protocols. We had to bring our friends to a hospital. So we decided we should try to head to Bahia de Caraquez but faced a huge landslide of about 50 feet high.
We found a break in the curb where we could possibly get down to the beach below. It was blocked by a fence and a big chain. A crowd formed around me and someone brought out a hammer and smashed through the lock and we tore the fence down by hand. The bridge to Bahia de Caraquez was clear.
We first tried the IESS hospital in Bahia. It was a mess. Majia yelled from the back of the truck “Go to Leonidas Plaza”. When we got to the hospital, we saw that it was somewhat chaotic but a medical team provided us with a stretcher and a neck brace. They took care of our friends.
We decided we should head back to Canoa to see if other people needed help. Canoa was a ghost town. We went to the church and found Mike, a Canadian in his 60’s who had his head wrapped in bandages. He needed a doctor.
We left the church and came across a truck that was using a rope to try to pull some debris out of a collapsed building. We had a very powerful winch and said we could help. A man was stuck under this 6-floor hotel. Sadly, his wife did not make it.
We worked for hours, used car jacks, a tool to cut through concrete and steel. Everybody worked hard and Mike said that he would wait to go to the hospital. He said that we needed to help that guy. After working for 5 hours, most of the guys left. They were tired. Sylvain, Jorge, two other guys and I stayed.
There were aftershocks. We had to keep trying to get him out of there. The police arrived after 5 am. We got Santiago out of there around 6 am. He absolutely needed immediate medical attention. The police took him in their car. We took Mike to the hospital. His wounds were worse than we thought and he never said a word while we were helping Santiago.
We got back to Canoa at about 10am. I was exhausted and needed to sleep.
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