I woke up Saturday morning, excited to spend the weekend with Jen up in the city, but first was greeted by the news that an 8.8 earthquake had hit Chile.
From what I read in that first news article, I wasn't too worried about my family, most of whom live in Santiago (200miles north of the epicenter), but it still freaked me out. And while I knew Chile would be MUCH better set up to handle this (thus able to avoid the mass and continuing devastation in Haiti) I still got pretty nervous. I called my dad, who lives in Texas but keeps close contact with all our Chilean family. Unfortunately while the damage in Santiago doesn't seem to have been too bad, power outbreaks were and continue to be rampant, making it difficult to communicate at all. He finally called Jen and I today relaying news of a conversation with one family member who, when Daddy anxiously asked if they were ok, responded with, "Uh, yeah. Why? How are you?" As if nothing had happened.
We also just heard from my mom that she talked to one of her old friends, who said he'd been terrified the whole 90 seconds that his house shook, holding his wife's hand in bed and just waiting for it all to come crashing down. So, clearly, there are a few differing perspectives on how bad the earthquake was... but, thankfully, it seems everyone we know is ok, at worst needing to tend to some minor structural damage to their homes.
While Santiago got off easy, it does seem like Concepcion, which was much closer to the quake's center and is Chile's 2nd largest city (at about 900K people), has been hurt pretty badly. Santiago is fairly modern, and most of the buildings are made to withstand earthquakes... most of the smaller, more rural areas are not. They're the ones who'll be having trouble. Fortunately the death tolls should be nowhere near what haiti has seen (This CNN update claims death tolls are just over 300 people so far) but there are probably still many, many more who might be left homeless or otherwise in pretty bad shape. If you are interested in donating to disaster relief, please check out these resources for doing so.
Thanks to everyone who's been sending messages and asking about my family. I very much appreciate the outpouring of love. =)
PS- I just remembered this link of pictures shared via Twitter of post-earthquake damage in Chile. And, BTW, I did still go up to the city and Jen and I had an incredibly wonderful time. But those stories will wait till later....
EDIT: Damn, many reports now saying the death tolls is up to 700 and growing. My heart goes out to everyone in Concepcion, Talca, and surrounding areas... and so, so glad it wasn't closer to Santiago.