NEW HAVEN – In the wake of Saturday’s deadly 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador, the large Ecuadorian population in Connecticut made the New Haven office of the Consul General of Ecuador very busy Monday. Employees at the consulate were helping to organize aid for the South American nation.
“We've been open to any kind of collaboration and efforts to bring equipment for rescues and even finding people that are willing to go to Ecuador to help,” said Raul Erazo Velarde, Ecuadorian consulate general, through a translator.
At least one American was among the 413 who were killed. Thousands more were injured.
It’s estimated up to 70,000 Ecuadorians live in Connecticut. The Ecuadorian Consulate says, as of Monday, they had received reports from one Ecuadorian family in Ansonia that lost a family member in the earthquake.
Other local Ecuadorians say they have not been able to reach their family members who live in the affected area.
"That's where our concern is right now. How can we help them from here? We can't even get a hold of them, We don't know if they're alive. We don't know if they're dead. We don't know if they're hurt," said Priscilla Esposito, who lives in Meriden and hasn't been able to reach her Ecuadorian cousins.
The consulate held a meeting Monday night for the local Ecuadorian community looking for more information about the earthquake and how to help. Around 70 people attended.
Charcoal Chicken, a West Haven institution for 23 years, is owned by an Ecuadorian woman who is heading back to her native land tonight.
“I have my sister there,” said Mercy Vallejo, the owner. “She has a hostel in Pedernales. It's a place where 80 percent of the people's houses are down.”
Pedernales is a known tourist spot.
“I am going with my two brothers. I know that we can do something there,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
One of the restaurant’s waitresses has siblings living in Ecuador too.
"I know in my brother's house, the walls shattered and a lot of things happened to their house,” said Erika Adrian.
This has been described as the strongest earthquake in Ecuador since 1987.
For information on how to help those in Ecuador, or to find out about family members, click here or call 1-800-44-668-4443.