Ayuda en Accion/Twitter

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador’s coastal areas on Saturday has already left 350 people dead and more than 2,500 injured, government officials reported Monday.

As rescuers and residents search for survivors, disaster relief organizations are arriving to help the injured or displaced. According to relief group CARE, some of the biggest needs right now include canned foods, shelters and drinking water, as well as  gloves and machinery for rescue workers.

Heart to Heart International, a public health organization based in Kansas, said that it sent a disaster coordination team to the South American country to assist with medical needs. “This quake was 20 times more powerful than the quake that hit Japan [last week],” Heart to Heart CEO Jim Mitchum told Fusion. “The reports we’re getting back from people on the ground suggest that this is overwhelming the ability of the government to take care of everyone at the same time.”

Advertisement

Local media reports have pointed out that hundreds of survivors are sleeping in improvised shelters outside their ruined properties, in order to stop looters from taking what’s left.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients seeking help, prompting the government to send mobile medical facilities from Quito, the capital city.

If you are in the U.S. but would like to help, the best way is by donating money to groups working on the ground; sending food or other items to Ecuador is expensive and complicated.

In Ecuador's capital people made a human chain to distribute basic supplies, that were then sent to areas hit by the quake

Advertisement

There are several American organizations and Ecuadorean groups that are facilitating support.  Heart to Heart for example, is taking donations online, which will help to cover the costs of sending medical teams to Ecuador later this week. Mitchum said the organization does not pay its doctors or nurses, who are volunteers, but uses the money entirely for logistical support.

“Each of our doctors can take with them enough medical supplies for 500 patients,” Mitchum said.

CARE has set up a page that takes donations for on the ground relief work, as has the Baltimore based group, Catholic Relief Services.  Washington based group, World Vision, has set up a disaster relief fund and is asking for donations on its site as well as support for its “adopt a child’ campaign in Ecuador. UNICEF, which also focuses on children is taking tax deductible donations for Ecuador disaster relief on its U.S. website as well as SOS Children's Villages an organization that has been in Ecuador for 50 years and helps out kids in vulnerable situations.

The Red Cross’s Ecuador chapter has already deployed 800 Spanish speaking volunteers and has set up a fundraising drive to support their work on Ammado.com.

The quake tore down buildings and roads along a 100 mil long stretch of Ecuador's coast

Advertisement

In Ecuador, the international youth leadership group, Global Shapers, is taking donations to support reconstruction work.  Global Shapers has already raised $58,000 in just 24 hours on Generosity.com, surpassing their original goal of $8,000 by 639%.

Michelle Arevalo, the group’s coordinator in Quito, said that money from generosity.com is not available until 30 days after donations come in.  But she described this rule as a “hidden blessing.”

“Usually lots of help comes in right after disasters happen, but people forget about the long term work that needs to be done,” Arevalo said on the phone from Quito.

Advertisement

Arevalo said her organization is focusing on infrastructure projects and also on health and education initiatives that will help to rebuild communities, long after aid workers are gone from the country.

“We are taking proposals from groups working with the red cross, like a group of architects that is talking about rebuilding public spaces,” the Ecuadorean volunteer said.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.