Chile Earthquake 2010
by Anne Long
What a way to wake up! About 3:30 am on Saturday, February 27th half of the Long Family was awakened as Cascade’s lodge in southern Chile started shaking and swaying. Even in the first few seconds of adrenaline-soaked, sleep-induced confusion, it was clear what was happening. It was an earthquake–and a big one! It didn’t take long to realize that the intensity was building. The pop as the power went out was followed by the incessant crash of falling things. Books and pictures from the shelves, plates and glasses from the cabinets, dresser drawers. And what wasn’t falling was rattling and contributing to the unnerving ruckus.
Amid the chaos, we came to realize that getting out of the swaying house would be our best bet. The cloudy night offered no illumination as we stumbled through the darkness to grab frightened children and carry them across a floor that was bucking wildly. In the noise, movement and confusion, the spiral staircase presented a unique challenge, but we hit the door and ran (as best we could) for the open space of the driveway. As it was difficult to keep my feet, I sat and tried to calm my three girls the best I could while Kenneth returned to the house to be sure Tren and Linzie and their two youngsters were coming. For several minutes more the garage doors rattled, the trees swayed, and from inside the tinkle of breaking glass echoed into the yard.
With the 9 of us safely outside and the rolling of the earth subsiding, we searched the cloudy skies for any sign of strange light or sulfurous smells to indicate additional activity from Volcan Villarrica. Our heightened senses spurred us to some action, so we collected a few essentials and took a drive. Many people headed out of town and many more were filling the sidewalks of downtown. In the absence of volcanic alert sirens or clear direction to evacuate, we returned to the house to wait out the rest of the night. Sleep was out of reach for the remaining hours of darkness and rolling waves of aftershocks kept us all on high alert.
Knowing that the news would hit early, our first priority of Saturday morning’s daylight hours was to make contact with family in the US to assure everyone of our well-being. The lodge suffered minor damage to the interior paint, and a glittering sea of broken glass covered the kitchen floor. Power was out, but thankfully the water and gas lines functioned as normal. Communication was difficult. Phone lines and internet were down, cell service was intermittent, international calling was blocked. But by late afternoon, power, phone and internet service were restored and we were able to get through. A flood of emails from family and friends poured in and we attempted to reach everyone before phone and internet went down again Saturday evening. We are overwhelmed and touched by the number of you who are thinking of us!
In the settling of the dust, we learned that the massive quake registered 8.8 at the epicenter–more or less the small seaside village of Constitution–and 7.5 at our Lake District base of Pucon. While terrifying (both at the moment and in hindsight), we feel very blessed to have suffered no real harm. Our prayers go out to those in need of help because of this disaster. I am relieved to say that we have heard from or about Todd Ericson, Eduardo Doerr, Super Mario, Maria Jose, Jakub Sedivy and the kids traveling with World Class and Huge Experiences and all are safe. I hope this is more or less the end of this episode, but we will keep the blog updated with our status. Coming next will be a report on the kayaking season in Chile.