Ometepe Island Mudslides and Destruction


Early Wednesday morning on October 8th, I awoke to take photos of the blood moon. The sky was inky black with clouds hiding the stars, as well as the eclipse of the moon. While I was standing on the beach, I shivered with a sense of foreboding. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something big was about to happen.

Thursday, the rains started. In 12 hours, we had 15 inches of rain. We lost our power early Thursday evening. Then, Friday morning, we had to walk into Moyogalpa to catch the ferry to take our very sick cat, Black Jack, to the vet in Rivas.

The rain sliced through the dark morning sky like sheets of glass. Our local beach bar’s ranchos toppled over like dominos.

IMG_4871
We walked silently through the mud into town. The roads washed out, and waterfalls replaced our colorful treed path into town.
IMG_4878Upon returning to Ometepe Island that evening, we saw the damage to Puesta del Sol, our local community center. The foundation had washed out under the community center and into the lake.

IMG_4880They discovered a spring under the broken foundation. With the deluge of water, the foundation just crumbled.

IMG_4882You can’t stop mother nature!

IMG_4883Our beach didn’t suffer as much damage as Puesta del Sol. I foresee a lot of shoveling in our future.

IMG_4856It rained steadily for two days. Friday evening, when the power was restored, Francisco visited us. He went to Los Ramos to visit his family and his pictures of the destruction horrified us.

The community of Los Ramos lies at the base of the steepest part of Vulcan Concepcion, our active mile high volcano. Because of the heavy rains, 5-6 rock and mudslides flowed off the volcano. Nothing was sacred in their paths.

mudslideThe mudslides covered and blocked the main road.

mudslide 2Boulders tumbled into the bean and plantain fields, suffocating their precious crops.

bean fields copyFarmers surveyed the damage. This is particularly troubling because we experienced a severe drought and the farmers missed their first planting. This was their livelihood and their last chance for a harvest this year.

fields in Los Ramos copyThe steep road leading to Los Ramos was impassable. The water lines the community had struggled to dig to bring water into their community were crushed by the tumbling rocks.

you can see the mud and rock slide copyTheir homes are inundated with two feet of mud. A five-year old girl was swept away in the strong current in the beach community of Santa Theresa, a mile beyond Los Ramos.

mud and rock slideManagua sent crews of Union Fenosa workers to restore power. Bulldozers and backhoes worked day and night to clear the main road in the communities of Los Ramos, San Marcos, and La Flor.

the main road to Los Ramos copyThe other side of the island, Maderas,  was cut off from the Concepcion side. No buses could pass, dead cows were trapped in the slides, and many homes were destroyed.

the road was impassableWe lost our power again last night and it was restored 12 hours later today. It is still raining. I’m sick with worry about the lovely community of Los Ramos. As soon as our roads are passable, we are going to head to Los Ramos to see what we can do to help.

Ometepe will survive. It’s amazing to me that the people are so resilient. They step over the boulders, and life goes on. Managua sent truck loads of mattresses, clothes, and other supplies for the families left homeless. The schools are closed because they house some of the evacuees…besides, there was no electricity or water.

I’ll update this post with more news and ways in which you can help as soon as we are able to fix our dune buggy ( it’s overheating) and see what the community of Los Ramos needs. Francisco told me they may move the entire community. It wouldn’t be the first time. When the Spanish conquistadors invaded Ometepe Island, Los Ramos moved their community from the beach, two miles closer to the volcano to avoid the raiders.

Please keep the people of Ometepe Island in your thoughts.

As a side note, poor Black Jack didn’t survive. His body was ravaged with infection and the vet said there was very little that he could do. R.I.P Black Jack. he was a loving rescue cat and we’ll miss him terribly.

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44 thoughts on “Ometepe Island Mudslides and Destruction

  1. So much destruction and devastation. Earthquakes and mudslides sound so frightening. I can’t even image. You sound strong, but I wish you more strength to make it through safely. The idea of being creative is a great one. A little artistic meditation.
    I am also sorry to hear about Jack. Be brave and be well.

    • Thank you for such thoughtful comments. We are fine, but I can’t stand seeing all the people who are suffering, so I have to take some action to help in anyway I can. The destruction was just horrible. The worst we have ever seen on Ometepe Island. I’m not so brave, but I am creative when it comes to alleviating stress. lol

  2. Pingback: Timeout for Art: Teamwork “BE PART OF IT!” | Zeebra Designs & Destinations

  3. Debbie-
    What devastation. I am browsing my blog reader “backwards” and am connecting this report with the one you wrote about the vortex.

    The thoughts and best wishes folks have expressed in posts you have already received mirror the ones in my heart. I hope you are all receiving the aid and assistance needed to recover, and continue to comfort and support each other.
    -Jane

  4. Oh Debbie, I am so behind in reading blogs and responding and am ashamed I didn’t see this earlier. Instead of feeling helpless, you and Ron are ready to help where it is needed. Your instincts and foreboding were right on. I hope the sunshine isn’t temporary so work can be done at a steady pace. Unfortunate for the farmers who needed this planting. What is done for them? Keep us posted.

    • Lynne, thanks so much for your words of encouragement and support. I’m not sure what the farmers will do. It’s too late to plant again, and the mudslides keep occurring because of the heavy rains. Last night we had a strong earthquake. People are really nervous.

  5. I echo what Mel said above. Thinking of all of you and wishing you well. I’m also sorry for the loss of your black cat – so sad. It seems the boys often succumb to kidney disease in their later years. i had two rescues – brothers – and both of them had to be put down after we tried to over come it for a couple of years. They were 18 and 19, so lived a good life.

  6. So sorry to hear about the devastation that’s occurred on Ometepe. We’ve been following the drought in Nicaragua and know that the situation is precarious, but to be hit be a flood and mudslides is a bad to worse scenario. How wonderful to be part of a community that will work together to recover from this tragedy and move forward. Anita

    • Anita, it is a wonderful feeling to live in a community where everyone pitches in and helps their neighbors. I heard this morning that Moyogalpa is building an apartment complex for the people of La Flor, who lost their homes to the mudslides. We had an earthquake last night. Geez! I feel like we’re living in a vortex.

  7. That same sense of foreboding hit me at Santiago-Lake Atitlan Guatemala, about two weeks before devastating landslides covered a village.  We learn to trust those forebodings after things like this happen. Between the threats of desecration from the proposed canal project to the destructive rainfall, one can find nuggets of gold sparkling through the rubble.  You and Ron are always there, marching forward and helping your fellow man.   I am so proud to call you my friends. My search for lost luggage seems so silly when compared to one´s struggle against much-larger issues. Sending you courage and energy.  Stay well, Z

    • Lisa, times like this make our little problems seem so insignificant. I don’t think I’ll ever complain again. We’ve been bombarded with problems since we returned from our vacation in the states. So much so, that yesterday, I had to relieve the stress that was building up in me like a pressure cooker, so you know what I did? I painted coconut head Jack-o-lanterns and redesigned my flower garden in front of my house between the raindrops. And it was all because of your timeout for art post. I think you were sending me loving thoughts…No, I know you were sending me loving thoughts. 🙂

      • you are so right! we are lucky to find creative ways to diffuse the stress.. i look forward to seeing the jack’o lanterns!

        i should be home in a few more days, and i will try to do a halloween coconut head soon as well… we also have lots of pretty ‘winter’ squashes so there will be many options…

  8. Wow! It’s humbling when you realize something like this can happen in the blink of an eye. Thinking about everyone down there :(. Please share if you find there’s something people can do from afar! Also, sorry to hear about Black Jack… amazing how quickly they become little members of our families.

    • Thanks so much, Rebecca, for taking the time to leave loving comment. It truly is a humbling experience. Today the sun is shining. The bulldozers are frantically digging out the community of Los Ramos. Puesta del Sol is rebuilding their community center. It should be done in two weeks. Poco a poco.

  9. Debbie this is devastating news in so many aspects. I used to live in Altagracia (we met a few times), how are they doing.
    i am so sorry for this beautiful island, but u are right, they are resilient people.
    my thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
    Nancy Martin

  10. Oh my gosh… I really don’t even know where to begin… I’m sorry for the loss of your kitty and I’m so sorry for the struggles the inhabitants of Ometepe Island are going through. How difficult this must be… so very sorry.

  11. Holy crap! Please keep us informed about Los Ramos – still planning to come down in December and visit there. Best wishes and thoughts to everyone there on the island.
    Jon

    • Jon, holy crap is right! Los Ramos has lost everything. They have no water, their homes are covered with two feet of mud. They have no electricity. Their fields are covered with mud and rocks from Concepcion. It can’t possibly get any worse. Yesterday, there was another mud slide in Los Ramos. I just don’t know what to say. The good news is that the bulldozers and backhoes are there to try to restore the road. Many of the people have been evacuated and are staying in the school in Urbite. As soon as we can get over there, we’ll let everyone know how they can help.

  12. My thoughts are with you and your lovely community. I am sad to hear about Black Jack, a rough time for all. West wishes for better times ahead and thanks for keeping us informed!

    • Mel, thanks so much for your kind thoughts. Our little problems seem so insignificant. Black Jack was such a character. We had three vets try to help him overcome his massive infection, but his kidneys shut down and he was suffering. It was for the best. It was a crazy day in Rivas…pouring down rain. The tiled sidewalks were so slippery that Ron had to buy a pair of tennis shoes at the second hand store just to walk around town. Talk about mud! The market was a quagmire. Then, when we came back to Ometepe…YIKES! Things will get better, slowly, but surely.

  13. Reblogged this on FindingMySelfinPanama and commented:
    We recently visited Ometepe and were horrified to hear of the devastation the heavy rain and subsequent mud/rock slides that ensued. This was a surprise and very unwelcome as the folks there
    have had a hard year. Our friend Deb wrote a great report and I wanted to pass it on.

  14. Thank you so much for doing your best to keep us informed. Our new friends on your beautiful island are so much in our thoughts, and I will help get the word out throughout the blogging community when we know what we can do help.

  15. Reblogged this on The Panama Adventure and commented:
    I was just looking for news and info to write a post about this, but this one from our friends at the scene is even better. I am just heartsick thinking about our new friends and all the suffering on this beautiful island. When it is determined how we can help, I will post the info and ask all my fellow blogger friends to do the same.

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