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Vulcan Fuego or Fire Volcano


There are so many sights, stories and works what do I leave out?

One of many small eruptions. The scar to the left is the major area of destruction and deaths.

Sunday 3 June we had finished our fellowship and ordered pizza when a 2 year old asked his mother, “Do I have to go to

bed?”  It was then we noticed how dark it had become.  No thunder or lightening.  We all went outside and started checking news on our cell phones.  Vulcan Fuego had erupted with a column of gases, super-heated ash were shot over 30,000 one report of 50,000 feet in the air, casting a 33 mile shadow.  When that column collapsed, pyroclastic flows shot down the side of the volcano following the valleys at 1300 F and flow rate of 400 mph.  No flesh in the direct path survives.  Two bomberos trained to use and the vehicle that held their climbing gear simply disappeared in one of these events.  They are still searching for them.  And they know exactly where they were when this blast picked them up vehicle and all.  The numbers — much conflict in how they are recorded and how accurate they are: over 100 confirmed dead, 190 missing, 5,000 displaced according to government officials.  Local school teachers report seems to defy those numbers as they report 10,000 students without class rooms now.  One teacher anecdotally reported they are looking for over 300 students.  Bomberos believe the number of people buried in the ash may be greater than 1,000.

Second load. Thanks DeRoyal, Oscar Garcia and Orphan Resources International

Vine International quickly moved all appropriate aid into the hands of the bomberos working at ground zero.  That included dressing material, tape, and burn dressings from a donation from DeRoyal in Knoxville TN.  We were blessed with a financial donation from Jacob Budow family and went to work being as specific in our response.  In Vine’s over 100 groups several responded immediately.  One doctor was turned away and has met continued resistance to his offers to help.  We have linked him to a ‘back door’, just this morning.  Another offer by Dr. Estrada and crew was accepted.   Still another from 4 hours away was there ahead of the government and they couldn’t make him leave.  Dr. Jose Amezquita is a force to be reckoned with.   He was one of three doctors actively treating patients, triaging and providing appropriate medical aid in the central square of Alotenango on the skirt of the volcano that first afternoon.  Bomberos/firefighters (volunteers mostly) came from all over the country.  One lady bombero (hired by her city) refusing to return to her paid job was fired.  The call went out, another city hired her immediately and told her to stay and work the volcano.  We purchased baby food, bottles, and diapers, medicines specific to the acute need, hard hats, work gloves, back packs, basic climbing gear and ropes.

Honduras helping out.

Other help came from Japan, Israel, I saw a team from Honduras arrive with Ice Cream (now that is impressive).  There was a climbing team of Mexican bomberos that raced to the site, from Chiapas before the government closed the border early in the week to aid.  I understand it is now open.  Cuba sent medical help.  Shriners Hospital in Texas received some of our burned children. (You Tube search words Shriners, Galveston, Guatemala and there are multiple videos).

We went last Saturday and delivered to the bomberos.  They asked us to take the baby food and other children’s things to a church just off the corner of Parque Central, Alotenango.  We were stopped at the door by the pastor who quickly called another pastor in San Miguel.  The first pastor would not take the donation.  Government had taken control of all that was given for local support and was using his space for storage… dispersal was inefficient shall we say.  Around the mountain we went and got it into hands that would get it to point of need.

Juan Bajxac and Antonio Castillo the two missing volunteer firemen

The climbing gear was received with emotion.  At last check yesterday the two missing bomberos have not been found.  Dr. Jose took some of the financial donation we gave him for his transportation and instead bought Kevlar gloves and asbestos reinforced protective sleeves.  Even one week after the original event the ash two feet down was burning the arms of the bomberos as they worked to retrieve bodies.  The bomberos estimate the ash depth in the ravines at 7 meters/21feet in places.  It will take weeks, possibly months for that mass to cool.

Vine is doing at least three things.  One is to keep our ear to the ground and respond by purchasing in Guatemala and answering specific medical needs in our partnering ministries.  Second is to replenish our bodega and continue to respond to urgent need/help partnering ministries to replenish their needs.  In that light we have a container due for loading within the next week.  And plan to send a second one by end of month.  In these we want to help some of the bombero crews with back boards, dressing supplies, ace wraps, orthopedic splints, IV supplies, stethoscopes, B/P cuffs,  E-tanks for oxygen therapy and transport, several people are sending nebulizers.  Exam and surgical gloves, we have dust masks but will be out of these in the next three/four weeks.  Will need surgical masks, suture material (3-0, 4-0 nylon, absorbable suture), betadine, tons of needs.  Samaritan’s Purse and MAP are working with us.  This paragraph alone could be book length.  Then the third thing is that we are planning to cache materials to be able to respond with immediacy at next event.  Guatemalans over 40 are pointing out that the last major Fuego eruption preceded by two years one of the worse earthquakes in the country’s history.  Over 20,000 people died in Guatemala City then.  We do medical relief in the name of Christ and we would like to be ready, whatever comes.

Vine International also put together buckets with cleaning supplies, broom and the towel thing is a Guatemalan mop, much better/cleaner than the USA rag mop.  These we sent through Orphan Resource International and they are being used in needy homes in the region under the ash cloud.  It took four days to deliver them as the area was closed to travel.

More to come.

Thank you for your support, In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

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