There are approximately 3500 people in Anonos, which is divided into several smaller regions/neighborhoods. The Quebrada is the neighborhood along the river on the city of Escazu side of the river. The municipality moved some where between 300-500 people out of the Quebrada. But the people were not only evacuated, they were told they had a day to move all of their belongings out of their houses because they would be torn down. The area is no longer safe to live in. After the original decision to move people from the Quebrada, officials came in and marked houses which were to be torn down. Additional inspections showed further danger of mudslides in the neighborhood higher up the hill called the Mangoes. Houses were also marked up there to be torn down.
And so began the Exodus. I have never seen anything like it in my life. The people were bused back from the shelters to gather what they could. Some people were given storage areas, some weren't. Men, women, and children were frantically packing up whatever they could, whatever was salvageable and not water damaged. Then they were tearing off their rooves and even the boards of their walls. Good metal and boards were loaded onto their moving "trucks", too, to help build some where else. Metal that was old or rusty was sold to a scrap guy.
While I saw some laughter and comraderie among families, I have also never seen so much injustic in my life. People taking whatever metal they could find to sell to the scrap guy. People taking from each others houses. Men charging outrageous prices to move peoples things less than a mile. Greed was more rampant than the cockroaches in the floorboards. Even children realized the concept of selling scrap metal for money. I saw many children gathering sheets of roofing, tying them together, and carrying them off to sell. People who had refused to move to the shelters at the beginning of the week were also left off the lists to receive government assistance for rent. They still had to move out of their homes and into shelters (by police insistance), but they would not be eligible for assistance. Some of the things that were donated from well meaning people also turned my stomach. Dirty, stained, ripped clothing, useless knick nacks, and broken toys did not speak of giving out of love and compassion, but of laziness.
In spite of the injustice, I also saw the hand of God at work. People in horrible living conditions are being given a chance to find something better. Illegal immigrants are being provided with a way to finally get legal citizenship and not have to fear deportation. Churches opened their arms to take people in. The shelter in Pavas was awesome. We were free to come and go to visit our friends, to play games with the kids, and to hold our regular Bible studies. Other people from the Vineyard church gave generously, both of their wallets and of their time. Several people came to help pack up peoples belongings. Some came just to pray. I know God has a bigger plan for this community and I can't wait to see it unfold in the coming weeks.
- The people of Los Anonos will find new homes quickly.
- That these people will get financial help from the government.
- Justice will reign.
- God will strengthen them during this hard time, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
- That they will find peace in the midst of the storm.
- God will protect those people who are working at tearing down their homes.
- God will unify the people during this time. Right now it is “every man for himself.”
- God will show us the best way to help those people who are a part of our church here.
- God will show us the best way to help others.
- God will show us the next steps to building our new church.