Local News

April 12, 2014

Early earthquake reports: Mission of Hope people unharmed

PLATTSBURGH — News of Thursday night’s earthquake in Nicaragua quickly radiated to the North Country, as it was centered in an area served by North Country Mission of Hope.

And though Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow heard no reports of injuries, she said the almost continual tremors throughout Friday rattled locals both physically and emotionally.

“There’s a great deal of fear because of the extensive devastation (by an earthquake) in 1972,” she said. “They are very frightened.”

Friday afternoon, Blow learned that the Mission of Hope facility, Ni-Casa, took a hit in the quake.

“We have had more damage than we had hoped,” she said. “We’re in the process of assessing it both structurally and financially.”

An inspection of the building’s outside walls had revealed some cracks earlier in the day. Mission Administrator Mauricio Flores found further damage once inside the structure, which holds dormitories, offices, a medical clinic and other space.

There is no mission group there at present, however.

The property is insured, Blow said.


While the scale of Thursday’s quake and aftershocks were in the range of 6.1 to 6.4 — similar to a recent event in California — the potential for damage, injury and worse is greater in the third-world country, where buildings tend to have far less resistance to earthquakes, she said.

And there are structures that still bear the scars and weaknesses from the 1972 disaster, including Valez Paiz Hospital, where, in February, Mission of Hope volunteers painted rooms and made other improvements.

That facility was evacuated as the quake struck, Blow said.

“The third floor is still condemned” from the damage of more than 40 years ago.

The building that holds Juan Pablo II Orphanage — recently improved with news windows by Mission of Hope — was feared unsafe after the earthquake, she continued.

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