In the remote community of Olmedo, in Ecuador’s southern mountain range, the winter is fierce. Intense storms carry large amounts of water accompanied by strong winds and thunderous lightning.
This year, the storm season was even more devastating than usual, causing landslides and floods throughout the community.
One afternoon, six-year-old James and his family were getting ready to have dinner when they heard rain hitting the weakened roof of their house. Little by little, the sound grew louder.
Suddenly, James’s father noticed that water was pouring into the house from under the door.
“Everything happened very fast. The house started shaking; we felt like a lot of mud was coming in from all sides,” says Fernando, James’s brother.
An avalanche of mud and water came down the slope, carrying everything in its path. James and his family didn't have time to remove their few belongings. The avalanche of mud quickly covered everything as the frightened family ran from their house, seeking refuge in their grandparents’ home.
“I was terrified because the mountain was falling on us. The kitchen and the beds were under the mud,” says James.
The following day, the panorama was bleak.