The following is an email sent Saturday evening by Sara Leiva, CFCA coordinator in CFCA Project Valparaiso, Chile, to Henry Flores, director of Communications Center in El Salvador, about her first impressions of the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early Saturday morning.
Good afternoon. Thank you very much for sharing the worries and concerns of the CFCA community. We have power in some areas of Valparaiso, Chile, and I was able to send this email from my sister’s house.
It was 3:35 a.m., when the earthquake started. We are kind of used to this because Chile is an area with high possibilities of earthquakes; however, this earthquake kept going longer than usual. It was then when my husband, Luis, our son and I tried to secure ourselves in the safest section of our apartment.
The noise was terrible. In spite of having the lights off, they began turning on and off by themselves. Shortly after that, the power went off. From my home, you can usually see all of Valparaiso and ViÒa del Mar, but when I looked outside, everything was dark. The water was off, too. Everything was full of dust, and phones lines had collapsed.
Some time later, some of my CFCA colleagues started to phone me, because we could not call out. Praise God, they were fine. At this moment, I can say that my family is well, too. Praise God, the construction in Chile is strong and can withstand the full force of the earthquakes.
As soon as we had daylight, I went to the CFCA office. On my way to there, I saw some areas of Valparaiso. They are very affected because they are historical constructions and not as strong as present-day buildings. I saw houses collapsed and many destroyed walls. The CFCA office looks OK. When I entered, I saw everything on the floor, the walls have cracks and the place is full of dust.
One of the walls on the first floor have collapsed, and there was water coming out from somewhere. I contacted some firemen who were working in the area, and they helped me close it. The firemen told me that I needed to report the damages because some of the walls are loose and dangerous. They suggested that we evacuate the office building.
We immediately took the files and other important things to the houses of some of the staff members to keep them safe. We knew that in situations like this there is always a high risk of robbery. After that, I visited the house of some of the staff members: Luis Olivares, Olga and Mauricio. We need to contact a friend of ours who is an engineer to have him assess the damages we have in the office.
The most affected area is located south from Valparaiso, and at this moment, we are in alert of tsunamis. The islands in front of Valparaiso are being affected by the high waves.
Henry, we strongly believe that our CFCA families are very scared, without running water, power or communications, but we are hopeful that they are well. As soon as we receive more news, we will notify you. We hope to have a steadier channel of communication, because we wonít be able to go back to our office for some time.
Thank you for your concern. I will be in touch.