Chile relief situation poses several challenges

Saturday’s 8.8. magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile has resulted in slow going when it comes to relief efforts reaching resident in the country’s second largest city, Concepcion, which was hardest hit by the quake. The situation several other coastal areas which were impacted by the quake and the resulting tsunami is even murkier.

Several aid organizations are working to bring aid to the country. Here’s a quick sample. Respond to the blog with other efforts you may be supporting to reach out to the people of Chile.

  • The president of the Chilean partner church body of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) said his members and pastors are safe following the Feb. 27 8.8 magnitude earthquake even as the church body’s assessment of damage continues. “By God’s grace [none] of our church members and pastors’ families have suffered,” wrote Rev. Carlos Schumann, president of the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile (IELCHI), in an e-mail to the LCMS.
  • BrightHope.org partnership developer Mark Lennox is partnering with local indigenous churches in Santiago to collect needed items and will transport them down to the church partners in Concepcion. Secondly, Mark and another pastor will travel with a Chilean volunteer team to assess the situation and make next step plans.
  • Two World Vision teams arrived in the hardest hit areas Sunday night and began surveying damage Monday, particularly in areas close to the epicenter where World Vision has community development programs. One team moved from town to town by helicopter to try and reach areas that have been isolated by damaged roads. The second team traveled by road to Concepcion, reporting that the highway was useable, but travel was extremely slow. In the fishing and tourist village of Dichato, aid worker Paula Saez describe the situation as “catastrophic.” There is no road access to the city and its residents have received no aid, Saez reported. Significant damage was reported in the city of Constitucion as a result of the tsunami that struck the area following the earthquake. The team also reported significant damage in the towns of Lota and Coronel.
  • A Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief team has begun to distribute relief supplies in the hard-hit city of Constitución, Chile, which was devastated by the massive earthquake and a subsequent tsunami. The team arrived around midnight after a 54-hour drive from our country office in neighboring Bolivia. They set up camp Tuesday morning, and after coordinating with government officials quickly began giving out desperately needed aid. The items distributed include food, water, 250 blankets, baby food, and other infant care items. The team reports that there is a great need to provide assistance for infants and small children. “The earthquake has impacted a huge part of the nation, with the worst part being from Santiago and south,” said Rafael Fuentes, the coordinator of the Operation Christmas Child leadership team in Chile. “Many houses, buildings, bridges, and roads were destroyed. The situation in Concepcion and surrounding areas is very bad with no water, food, or fuel. Because of the lack of electricity, grocery stores, gas stations, and telecommunications are not working.”
  • Church World Service is supporting efforts of local partners as they assess damage and prepare initial relief efforts. CWS is providing a rapid response cash grant of $15,000 to the Methodist Church of Chile, known by its Spanish acronym IMECH, and will also support, as needed, efforts by FASIC — the Fundacion de Ayuda Social de las Iglesias Cristianas, Foundation of Social Aid of Christian Churches. FASIC, which is also connected with the Methodist Church, reported that a joint assessment of damage and needs is planned for the region of Rancagua and Concepcion and a coal-producing zone. A team comprising staff of IMECH, Lutheran Evangelical Churches of Chile, Pentecostal Churches and CLAI, the Latin American Council of Churches – Chile, will work this week on the assessments.  The assessments will serve as the basis for specific response by ACT members such as CWS and their partners.

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