Santos, who lived in Ecuador until he was 19 and a senior studying art, said that while he was working, he began receiving a flood of notifications stating his friends were marking themselves ‘safe.’
“I was like, ‘What’s going on? Why am I having so many notifications?'” he said.
He said that is when he checked his phone and learned that there had been a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country his family still lived in.
He said he first texted his mom, who lives in New York, to see if she knew about it, but she did not answer.
“Then I called my family in Ecuador through ‘WhatsApp,’ and they didn’t answer, so I was getting paranoid,” he said.
Santos said he continued working and praying silently that his family would be OK.
Santos said that after two hours, he received a text from his cousin reassuring him that his family was OK but that the power had been out, so they were not able to communicate.
Santos’ family is from the city of Guayaquil, a coastal city south of the earthquake’s epicenter. He said that while Guayaquil did experience damages, his family said it was not nearly as bad as what other cities had experienced.
Santos said he felt better knowing his family was safe, but he was still concerned about all of his friends in Ecuador.
“After work, I started texting a bunch of my friends in Ecuador that live in different cities,” he said.
Santos said it took a day or two to finally hear back from all of them.
“I knew because of the power, they wouldn’t be able to communicate,” he said. “Finally, they answered. Everyone was fine.”
Ecuador’s Risk Management Office reported that the death toll has risen to 570 with 7,015 people people injured and 150 people still missing, according to CNN.
The quake is reported to be the worst to hit Ecuador since 1987 in which 1,000 people were killed.
Santos said that while he is happy to know his loved ones are safe, he is still sad about all of the other people who have suffered or died.
“They’re still like my brothers,” he said. “We’re from the same country. We’re from the same father in heaven. We’re all brothers and sisters. I care about them either way.”