Earthquake Anniversary

Five years ago I was in a three story home at 6:40 in the evening when an 8.1 earthquake rumbled through, reducing the home to one story and killing 500 people around me.  My family and I are alive by the grace of God, and though sometimes I feel like there’s not much I can do to be thankful and give back, I do like to support  And lately, I have found a new one, – Pisco was the epicenter of the earthquake.  If you click on previous pages, especially the Earthquake Experience pages, you can see photos of what Ica (30 miles from the epicenter) looked like on that day, and three years later.  But I’ve put a more uplifting pictures of a six day old llama at Machu Picchu that I took this June on this post to remind myself that life goes on. God Bless.Image

Here’s a Quick Way to Donate to Earthquake Charities: The Shattered Swan: – 10% to buildchange



Have you ever been in a natural disaster? Would you like to guest blog?

Ever been in a flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake? Would you like to share your experience?  I’d love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please e-mail me @


Feelings after a traumatic event

Even almost 5 years later I have feelings of panic when the ground shakes.  I don’t live in a seismic zone so it can be anything from a truck rumbling by to even an imagined movement of the pedestrian bridge at the mall.  I can only imagine that it is even more horrible for people who live through subsequent earthquakes year after year.  Chile had another one yesterday and the people there not only had to deal with the immediate panic, but also had to remember the 2010 8.8 disaster.  

If you’ve been through an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood and would like to share your experiences please post a comment.

A school in Ica – still in ruins 3 years later

This is a public school in the middle of Ica.  The teachers and students have been using the temporary straw and wood structure in the middle courtyard of the school grounds since the earthquake.  The rest of the school is unstable and could collapse during the ongoing tremors and earthquakes.  The sidewalk outside of the school, destroyed in the earthquake, has not been repaired yet.  The children use it to walk to and from school.

The private school located just next door has been completely rebuilt so the disparity between people who have money and those who don’t is plain.  

I recently heard a story on NPR about a new book:  Give a Little by Wendy Smith.  In it she says that the major philanthropic donations are made up of small amounts through ordinary people.  If anyone is interested in helping me convince to go to Peru, please donate and comment to them that Peru needs their help.  Thank you for reading my blog.  Please visit the other posts and pages on the menu at the top of my home page for more details on life in Ica.

3 years later

Here are some pictures of Guadalupe, Ica, Peru from June 22, 2010.  The earthquake occurred August 15, 2007.  The white USAid tents and the ruins in these pictures are where people are still living almost three years after the earthquake destroyed their homes.  I should have been shocked at the lack of progress in rebuilding the town but honestly it wasn’t a big surprise.  The tents are far from the ideal home to live in.  Temperatures go down to 50 degrees at night and in addition to the cold, the wind blowing the thick plastic (which is supported by a wooden frame) around would keep even a deep sleeper awake.

Notes from Sergio April 2010

This, as well as most of the rest of this blog, is written by a young nephew in Spanish (translated by me into English) regarding the situation of the earthquake victims of Peru.  Keep the compassion alive – victims don’t recover when the world has forgotten them…

 Everyone is well here in Ica.  Nothing much has changed, especially the Luren church, but we will keep trying to meet our objective of getting it rebuilt back to its original condition.

 The tremors are less frequent now.  Some of the schools here have been rebuilt, although others are still in ruins – just like the majority of houses.  Many families still live in tents or makeshift huts made of plywood.

 There are a large number of families in Guadalupe (suburb of Ica) that still live in tents – including the family that lives across the street from my grandmother (the house that Krystiana was in during the earthquake in 2007 with the family).  Most people have managed to get at least a small plywood shelter to protect their children from the sun or the nighttime cold.

 The government has put up temporary structures (30 square meters / 330 square feet) with bathrooms and multi purpose rooms for the population to use. 

 There are still many families that have not been able to comply with the government’s requirements (more information in later blog entries) to rebuild their houses.  My family is one of those that cannot comply.  We are lucky enough to have shelter in our extended family’s house and we continue to wait for the longed for reconstruction.  We hope that the government will revise the way that they give out the money from the Vivienda Fund and help us, as well as many more that are in our situation.

Sergio Ascencio – April 2010.  Translation by Krystiana, with a reminder that this note comes almost 3 years after the earthquake occurred.

Hola tía:
Todos estamos muy bien aquí en Ica, aquí las cosas siguen igual(en especial la iglesia de Luren), pero aún así seguimos luchando para conseguir nuestro objetivo.

Los temblores ya son menos continuos y algunos colegios han sido reconstruidos, otros aún siguen en ruinas al igual que la mayoría de casas que se cayeron, incluso continuan familias viviendo en carpas o modulos de triplay(material de madera). 

Te Contaré, hay un gran número de familias en Guadalupe que continuan viviendo en carpas.

Los más cercanos son los de la cuadra donde vive mamá Fanny, al frente de su casa, aunque la mayoría han logrado hacer una pequeña habitación para cubrir a sus niños del sol o del frío en las noches.

El gobierno ha hecho algunos módulos de 30 metros cuadrados confoados por un ambiente multiusos y baño.

Hay muchas familias que no han logrado cubrir los exigentes requisitos que solicita el fondo mi vivienda y entre ellos esta mi familia que si bien es cierto tenemos la suerte de estar en un departamento, pero continuamos a la espera de la construcción de ese ansiado módulo, esperemos que el gobierno reconsidere y nos ayude a nuestra familia y a varias más que estan en esa situación. 

Saludos, Sergio Ascencio.

El Templo del Sr. de Luren

These are pictures of the most important church in Ica, the Templo del Sr. de Luren.  The church was, like most buildings in Ica, destroyed in the Earthquake. 

There have been several attempts to rebuild.  A few months after the earthquake a representative from the Vatican visited the site and pledged economic help for the reconstruction of the church.  There were also Telethons and private donations but the only thing rebuilt so far has been the (capilla) where the (imagen) of (sr de luren).

In my opinion, the majority of the donated funds have never reached their intended recipient, the church, since it is hardly possible that in two and a half years so little of the church has been rebuilt.  No one knows exactly what will happen to the church in the future. 

 Esta vez te estoy enviando fotos del templo del Sr. de Luren, como tu recordaras el terremoto acabo con las ilusiones de los fieles que se encontraban en el templo ya que no podran regresar a este santuario destruido por la fueza de la naturaleza.
POcos meses despues del terremoto vino a Ica un representante del Baticano que anuncio la ayuda economica del papa para la reconstruccion del mismo, ademas se han hecho teletones y ayuda de los vecinos con donacion de ladrillos, kermes. Solo se ha construido al frente del templo destruido una capilla donde se encuentra actualmente la imagen del Sr. de Luren, a mi parecer se ha desviado toda la recaudacion de los eventos realizados porque no es posible que a estas alturas no se haya podido realizar la esperada reconstruccion. No se sabe el futuro del templo del Sr. de Luren.
Sergio D. Ascencio Garrido.

The state of Ica 2-1/2 years later; told by Sergio

This is my translation.  For Serio’s account in Spanish continue reading.

A note about these entries:  I, Krystiana, am translating Sergio’s words.  Some of it is not an exact translation as I try to put it into language that someone who has not been to Ica, and doesn’t know the family, will understand better.  Ica is the main city and Guadalupe is a suburb.  But don’t think about them as you might an American city/suburb.  Guadalupe, even before the earthquake, was dirt roads and poorly constructed buildings.  My worry, and the main reason for starting this blog, is that the poor construction will continue.  And if it does, the next earthquake will wipe them all out again.  Please visit and encourage them to go to Peru.

Regarding houses:

This entry is about what happened to my aunt Fanny’s house (note from Krystiana:  Fanny is my husband’s cousin, Sergio is his other cousin Julisa’s son, and Fanny “grandmother” is the head of that family)

My grandmother, Fanny Matta de Garrido’s house:  The second floor of this house (just having been rebuilt recently),  collapsed downward and to the west onto the garage of the house next door – my aunt’s house – crushing the rented car that my uncle Oscar (husband of my aunt Fanny, daughter of Fanny Matta de Garrido) had been using to go to work.

My aunt Fanny’s house:  On the first floor, the bedroom behind the living room was ruined as the roof collapsed down into it; falling onto my aunt’s bed.  They still have not been able to rebuild that room – where my cousin Veronica slept with her son.  A neighbor offered them a temporary 12 x 12 square foot shack for Veronica and her 9 year old son to live in.  The problem with this is that now, in summer, it is raining a lot and the water gets trapped on the flat roof of this shack.  Also, it is extremely hot; there’s no air conditioning.

I’m sending pictures (attached into this blog post) of my aunt Fanny’s house, mine, and others in Guadalupe.

Regarding schools:

My school in Ica, where my sister Olenka goes also, wasn’t too badly damaged and so after a while we were able to resume classes.  The school where my cousins Tamara and Antony go, however, was a lot older and was completely damaged.  The students there were not able to return until very recently so Tamara and Antony went to a much smaller school in Guadalupe in the interim.  This school was also in ruins.  This year they’ve gone back to the school in Ica but there’s still danger as the building has not been completely rebuilt so in 2011 they will try to change schools yet again.

In Guadalupe they are rebuilding the main plaza.  I will send pictures when they are finished.

Regarding Government Assistance:

There are still long lines at the government’s buildings in Ica daily.  People are lined up to request and re-apply (it apparently takes more than one application to get any attention) for the most basic housing assistance.  There is a model of a studio apartment sized brick (not adobe) home available, but the government still has not given out money for the people to start building these.  Sergio says here that his parents, and his aunt Fanny, line up daily to receive what he says would be a “wonderful thing”. 

Hola nuevamente tía Christy, escribe Sergio, tu sobrino.

Hoy te voy comentar sobre lo que paso con la casa de mi tía Fanny.

Cuando fue el terremoto las paredes a medio construir del segundo piso de la casa de mama Fanny se cayeron y aplastaron el carro alquilado en el que trabajaba mi tío Oscar (el esposo de mi tía Fanny). Luego, colapso un cuarto que estaba entre la sala de mi tía y su habitación, su dormitorio quedo con el techo sobre la cama.

Hasta ahora no ha podido construir ese cuarto, un vecino le ofreció un modulo de lona para que habiten ahí, mi tía acepto. Lo malo es que ahora en verano, llueve mucho y se empoza el agua en el techo de lona, ademas hace mucho calor quema demasiado, en ese modulo que es de 4×4 habitan Veronica hija de mi tia Fanny, Sandro 9 años, nieto de mi tia Fanny, y porsupuesto hijo de Veronica.

Ademas te envio fotos de lo comentado en casa de mi tia Fanny, tambien de mi casa derrumbada y de algunas casas del pueblo de Guadalupe.

Mi colegio y el de Olenka, gracias a Dios no se daño demasiado y pudimos en poco tiempo retomar las clases, pero el colegio de Tamara y Antony se destruyo demasiado era muy antiguo y no pudieron estudiar sino hasta este año, ellos felizmente fueron reubicados por sus padres en un colegio de Guadalupe pero tambien estaba deteriorado es por ello que ya regresaron este año a su antiguo colegio que ha sido adecuado pero el peligro no cesa y estan pensando para el 2011 cambiarse de local.

En Guadalupe se esta reconstruyendo su plaza de armas, te enviare fotos cuando este terminada.

A pesar de las inmensas colas que aun se forman para reinscribirse y tener ayuda del gobierno para vivir al menos en un modulo de 30 metros cuadrados y de material noble, el gobierno aun no da la entrega de dinero para ser ejecutados, yo te mantendre al tanto de ello ya que mis padres se amanecen tambien al igual que mi tia Fanny para obtener esa maravilla.

Gracias por leer mis comentarios me motiva mucho la atencion que ponen en lo que envio pero disculpen la demora de los envios pero escapa de mi voluntad.

Saludos, Sergio Dennis Ascencio Garrido