Los Ranchos, Ecuador's Tsunami Free Zone!

by Robert and Janine
(Crucita, Ecuador)

The beach in front of our houses

The beach in front of our houses

The beach in front of our houses Our guest or rental house. Another Beach view

It's a bit of stretch to say that this beach location is free of tsunamis, but basically we were unaffected by the recent events.

My wife and I and our adult son settled in Los Ranchos, Crucita 5 years ago. We have built our home on the beach and also another one for rent and or sale next door.

My day normally starts at around 4am, I do IT programming work for European clients. So the first thing I do is check the news. The Japan disaster was on every channel, and I was worried and so I stated checking out everything I could about tsunamis in Ecuador on the internet.

I found that there were tsunamis in Guayas and Esmeraldas in 1906, apart from that only the earth quake in 2001 in Bahia.

What I could obtain from the internet was that there would be a tsunami heading towards Ecuador and it would arrive sometime between 6 and 7 pm that night.

From all reports they expected that the waves could be anywhere between 1 to 2.5 meters high. We normally have king tides here in February and March, so I checked the Manta tide times. As luck would have it the high tide for that day was at 7pm.

Our houses are about 3 meters above high tide, we also have a 10 foot high brick fence around the property with a large boulder retaining wall to the beach. I call the fence my wonder wall and bless it every day.

Waiting for my wife Janine to wake up was very frustrating. Luckily, our Ecuadorean friends starting ringing Janine around 6am. They were all saying that President Correa was on TV and he was ordering all coastal communities to evacuate the area.

Our friends all offered to give us accommodation for the night away from the beach.

At 7am our Ecuadorian worker rang us and informed us that he was sending his wife and children to his mother's house. I asked him to please come over and help with making some sand bags that I would place at the garage door and front gate.

Basically, we were very secure and felt that there was no way the ocean could penetrate our property. We also have our own electricity generator, a good supply of food, fresh water and good communications.

We made the decision to stay.

At about 5pm friends rang us to tell us that a bus with an army officer on board was going around all the streets looking for people. They were taking people to a hill location overlooking Crucita.

A friend who lives on the hill told us that the army had setup a hospital there. We saw the bus arrive in the street but no one got on board. Most of the locals went to stay with relatives further inland.

At 7pm we setup our chairs on our promenade overlooking the beach and waited. We had several phone calls from friends over the next hour and half. At one stage Janine saw a wave that she swore was 10cm higher than normal.

We had heard that the point at Manta did have some waves, and other areas experienced some activity.

Prevention is always better than cure. The presidents decision to evacuate the coastal areas was the a right one. Basically, there are many cane houses on the beach in our area and if the tsunami did come onto shore those houses and people would not have survived.

Los Ranchos is in a unique location in that it is a small fishing village with one of the safest swimming beach the Ecuador. It has an 8 mile continental shelf before the deep water ocean, and I think that is why there was minimal effect from the Tsunami.

It is one of the last undeveloped fishing villages in Ecuador that is still using the beach for the fishing industry. Perhaps that is why the fishermen like to use it, they can safely launch and land their boats here.

We know that this will soon change as the government is keen to promote tourism on their beautiful beaches.

On waking the next day, our life on the beach had not changed. Perhaps the one good things is that the army and government got to execute a real life action plan for emergencies, and the locals now know what to do.

Robert & Janine

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