Press-Republican

Local News

June 7, 2014

Earthquake aftermath good and bad news

PLATTSBURGH — There was good news and bad awaiting North Country Mission of Hope in Nicaragua.

Three members of the Plattsburgh-based humanitarian-aid organization traveled there, in large part, to assess damage from recent earthquakes.

Two hospitals that benefit from Mission of Hope assistance were condemned after the temblors; Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow, Leadership Team President James Carlin and volunteer David Fuller, a contractor from Schroon Lake, all knew that.

But to their relief, the equipment and furnishings donated through Mission of Hope to those facilities had been moved out of the buildings to be used at the new locations.

“There’s a picture on the national newspaper (La Prensa) of some of the beds from Cedar Hedge Nursing Home,” Blow said.

She easily recognized the wood-veneer headboards and footboards, and the accompanying story told of the removal of the hospital contents.

SCHOOL, CHURCH DAMAGED

There was more relief at the organization’s Nicaraguan compound, Ni-Casa, when Fuller and Carlin assessed cracks in the buildings and found them to be surface damage.

But two locations that happened to be among the very first Mission of Hope projects more than 15 years ago suffered more from the quakes.

One building at Nino Jesus de Praga School was deemed structurally deficient, Carlin said.

“A wall partially collapsed between (Nino Jesus) church and convent area,” Blow said. “It definitely needs some attention.”

And the sacristy wall of the church requires some significant repair as well.

HUGE HOLES IN ROOF

El Crucero Orphanage, another early target for assistance by the mission group, not only had earthquake damage but suffered from the increased activity of the nearby volcano that resulted from the shaking ground.

Volcanic ash contains an acid, Carlin said, “that literally eats anything that’s metal.”

So the orphanage roofs, already in rough shape, have been deteriorating even faster, he said.

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