Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Terremoto y Tsunami

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake, the fifth strongest ever recorded, and its resulting tsunami struck the central Chilean regions of Maule and Bio-Bio in the early hours or madraguda on February 27th. The outgoing government of Michelle Bachelet was quickly criticized for underestimating the extent of the disaster, not warning coastal residents of the impending tsunami, and failing to prevent looting of stores and burning of a mall in Concepcion, the second largest city in Chile. Hundreds of lives, 1.5 million homes, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been lost as a result of this tectonic shift.

The incoming president, billionaire businessman, Sebastian Pinera, successfully campaigned against the incumbent socialists on the promise of 6% economic growth. Those hopes have now been dashed and the losses to the economy appear to be about 20% of GDP. As Pinera takes command today, gaps in government assistance to the victims are being filled by ordinary Chilean citizens.

Reports from friends in Pucón tell of their efforts to drive supplies up to the affected areas in their own pickup trucks. Our Pucón neighbors, Kenneth and Anne Long, Tren and Linsie Long, and Tom Long of Cascade Raft and Kayak Company have called upon friends and have raised over $2000 to aid about 100 needy families in a coastal town called Tirua. The town survived the earthquake okay only to be demolished by the tsunami. The Longs are driving their own fully-loaded trucks to the area themselves.

Look here for a video of the Longs visit to Coliumo.

Look here for a link to read their blog and make a direct donation.

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