Natural disasters can strike in many forms. Sometimes, they spare us from their wrath, but in the most unfortunate of situations, entire towns or cities are leveled, and those who survive the turmoil still lose almost everything they own.

Villa Epecuen, an old tourist town located just south of Buenos Aires, Argentina, suffered a disaster on an enormous scale in 1985. It changed the lives of residents forever and left the place a ghost town within a mere two days.

You’ll be in awe when find out what happened to Villa Epecuen over a quarter of a century ago and see the stunning pictures that captured it all.

Welcome to the town of Villa Epecuen. This old tourist retreat was established in the 1920s on the banks of a salt lake. Over 5,000 people made their homes there, and it was a holiday destination for thousands more every year.

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Once a bustling region with lots of stores and activity, a horrific incident occurred that put a complete stop to the livelihood of its residents. That incident left the town in shambles and caused it to become essentially uninhabitable.

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A massive dam that was located in the town burst in 1985. Over 33 feet of salt water came rushing into the streets and submerged the entire town within hours. Residents waited on their roofs thinking the water would recede, but it never did. Within two days the entire place was deserted.

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Finally, in 2009, the salt water started to slowly move out of the town. What emerged from the depths of the water was astounding. It looked like the remnants of a post-apocalyptic world.

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There were still plenty of recognizable items all over the place. The water hadn’t completely destroyed everything. There was a lot of evidence that Villa Epecuen once existed as a lively locale.

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Most of the buildings that lined the town’s streets were reduced to piles of rubble. Bits and pieces of the people’s old lives were poking through the crumbled cement; odds and ends like rusted bed springs protruded from the ground.

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There are even still old road signs left standing. It was a haunting reminder of the life that once rushed through the streets during the old days. It became clear Villa Epecuen wouldn’t be able to function as the town it once was.

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For any villagers who returned to the town they once lived in, the world they once knew was nothing but a memory. They needed to accept that fact and try their best to move forward.

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Anyone who has ever lived through a massive disaster such as Villa Epecuen knows how impossible it seems to start a life from scratch again. Where do you even begin after everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve disappears?

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Even though all of the residents of the town left, one elderly man named Pablo Novak stayed behind. He lived in a small stone home that only contained a fridge and simple cooker. He wasn’t gong to let anything drag him away from his home.

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If you visit Villa Epecuen today, it’s completely unrecognizable from what it once was. The remains still act as a constant reminder that disaster can strike in a second. You shouldn’t necessarily expect it to happen, but you need to be prepared if it does.

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Even though what happened to Villa Epecuen was horrible, you can’t help but be absolutely fascinated by the photographs.

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