Charlotte, NC - Less than a week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shattered much of Ecuador, local residents with ties to the country are doing what they can to help victims, many of whom include family and friends.
“I would say 85% of it is completely destroyed, [and] buildings are torn down,” said Waxhaw youth soccer coach Alfredo Henrique-Hernandez who grew up in Portoviejo, Ecuador, one of the hardest hit towns, and moved to North Carolina when he was fifteen. It wasn’t until several days after the earthquake, he heard from family there that they were okay.
“It was very hard at first to get in touch with them, obviously because the land lines were down,” he said, holding back tears.
As soon as they heard the news of the earthquake in Ecuador on April 17, Alfredo and his mother-in-law, Jane McElhaney, started kicking around ideas to help the victims. So they asked the team’s families to drop off items like clothes, bottle water, first-aid supplies and other necessities.
“There’s no electricity over there. There’s no running water,” said McElhaney.
“Luckily I have friends that own trucking companies so we could take the trucks, fill them up, and drive them to Miami,” said Henrique-Hernandez.
Those trucks are now staged at Cabos Mexican restaurant in Charlotte. The owner’s wife, Maria Gomez, is also from Portoviejo, Ecuador. She lost two close friends in the earthquake.
“Since what happened, I couldn’t sleep,” said Gomez. “When I start eating, I think about that people that don’t have food and I feel just guilty.”
But the outpouring from people all over the state’s now given their family a glimmer of hope.
“We go there every year - it’s such a beautiful place and knowing that it’s all destroyed, I want to help kids and people that don’t have homes or food,” said Isabella Gomez, Maria’s nine-year-old daughter. “I feel grateful because of all the people that help with the situation for the people in my country.”
Cabos restaurant will continue collecting items and loading additional trucks until May 1st. You can drop off items to their location at 6676 Carmel Rd, Charlotte, NC 28226 until 10pm. They’re looking for the following items:
-Baby Formula, Baby Food, and Diapers
-Band-Aids and First-Aid Supplies
-Plastic Kitchen Utensils and Cups
-Flashlights and Batteries
They ask that if you bring bags of clothing or shoes, that you have them sorted by age ahead of time.