Thursday, September 17, 2015

In the Clear

As you've all probably heard by now, there was an earthquake in Chile.  Don't worry, I'm ok.

The epicenter was north of Santiago, near La Serena.  It was an 8.2, and apparently it was really strong.  

So, why do I say apparently?  Well, I didn't feel it!

I was on the bus on my way home from work.  At about 8:00 I got off the bus, and when I walked into my apartment building I saw a lot of people outside.  I asked what was happening, and they told me.  

While I waited outside, I started to contact friends in Santiago and family at home.  5 years ago I needed to communicate through TeachingChile in order to get through to my family, and I had to wait until the next day to get to an internet cafe to be able to call home.  This time I was able to email people directly and communicate via Whatsapp.  What a difference 5 years and having a smartphone makes.

After about 15 minutes, I decided to go up and check on my apartment.  The doormen told me that the elevators were working, so I decided to take it up rather than walking up 20 flights of stairs.

Another person joined me in the elevator, and we chatted until he got off at the 13th floor.  

After the doors closed, it seemed like an eternity to get to the 20th floor.  Why was that?

Well, things started shaking again.

I felt it, and I was able to see thinks shaking through the cracks.

Luckily, the elevator still made it up to the 20th floor and opened.  I went right to the doorway of the stairs and stood there.  

While I was there, the shaking continued.  I heard one of my neighbors calling out in despair.  Eventually he went to his doorway, and I talked with him and told him it was going to be ok.  He has family that lives along the coast, and he wasn't able to talk to them.  I motioned for him to come over to me, and I gave him a hug and told him it was going to be ok.  I told him we'd charge my cell phone once the shaking stopped and we'd get in contact with them.

A few moments later he went back inside, and the shaking stopped.  I checked my apartment, and only one thing was knocked out of place.  I moved my TV down to the ground and secured it between the TV rack and coffee table, and then I proceeded to pack an emergency bag.

One of my friends invited me over, so after turning off the water and taking my bag I went right back out the door.  (But this time I took the stairs down.)  I arrived about 20 minutes later.

We talked about our experiences with the earthquake and watched the live coverage while we had our cell phones out.  We spent the time updating Facebook and messaging people to see how everyone was doing.  There were some more aftershocks, and each time we gauged if we should stay where we were or go outside.  Luckily we were able to stay inside for all of them.

They set up an air mattress for me, and I went to sleep around 12:30.  It was difficult to sleep given the continued aftershocks, and one was so strong that we thought we´d have to go out.

I set my alarm for 6, and after thanking my friends for having me over I headed out.  After a taxi ride and quick breakfast and shower, I was back out the door for my only class of the day at 8 AM.  I had communicated with the student to confirm the class, and seeing that we were both fine we still met.

We spent about half the class discussing the earthquake.  When I returned home, I took a look around the city.  Everything looked pretty normal, and I doubt that there was any major damage in Santiago.

I have enough food in, but just to be on the safe side I decided to give the supermarket a try.  
In 2010 when I went it was a madhouse, so I was prepared to wait in long lines and to be patient.  The smaller grocery store Unimarc was almost empty and fully stocked.  I picked up some essentials and then went home for some much needed rest.

I have my emergency bag packed and ready by the door in case I need it, but I think the worst has come and gone.  Despite my good fortune, there are coastal areas that have been ravaged just a few days before the country's independence day holiday.  If you have the means, there are organizations to donate to in order to help people that are now homeless or without running water or electricity.

I'll update with more details in case anything else happens.

One more test to show how strong we are.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you´re okay. We felt the quake all the way here in Cordoba, Argentina. But I´m sure it wasn´t nearly as scary as in Chile.