Local Chilean community feels helpless

Sandra Epp hopes countries will rally quickly to help victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Chile.

Gloria Vasquez

Gloria Vasquez

Sandra Epp hopes countries will rally quickly to help victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Chile.

Born in Chile and now a Lacombe resident, Epp said her relatives survived, but they are in shock.

“Nobody is sleeping much at night. They thought they were going to die. They thought that was the end,” said Epp about the 8.8-magnitude quake that struck the South American country at 3:34 a.m.

Now water, gasoline, food are becoming scarce and people are getting desperate, especially in rural areas.

“I feel like my hands are tied,” said Epp on Monday, after speaking via Skype to her mother in Temuco, Chile, about 300 km south of the earthquake’s epicentre.

“I cannot wire money. Bank machines are not working.”

And in the coming days, people’s needs will continue to multiple, said Epp, who works for Central Alberta Refugee Effort Committee.

Gloria Vasquez, who grew up in Chile, also feels helpless.

Her family in Chile is alive. But they have lost everything and it’s going to get worse unless more help arrives soon.

“Everyone’s okay. But I know they’re not. They say they’re okay because they don’t want you to worry,” said the owner of Gloria’s Alterations at Bower Place Shopping Centre.

“But they’re not okay. We’re not okay. We’re not,” said Vasquez, her eyes shiny with tears.

She screamed when she turned on the television early Saturday morning. On Monday, she couldn’t watch any more.

“You’re here for so long, but they are still your family, regardless where you make your life. That’s your country.”

Her sister in Santiago, Chile told her the earthquake was like being in a blender.

“You press the button, and put it at high speed.”

With her phone and address book within reach, Vasquez stays in close contact with her family through her niece in Santiago, who has the only working phone among her relatives.

“It makes you appreciate what you have. Even that glass of water. That’s something so simple,” Vasquez said.

More than 700 people died in the quake.

On Saturday morning, Elaine Johnson and her husband Raul Ramirez found out his family survived through her sister-in-law’s Facebook page, and spoke via Skype on Sunday night to his parents, who live near Talac, Chile, 300 km from the epicentre.

“They are safe. They were actually in the capital Santiago with other family,” said Johnson, an urban forester with the City of Red Deer.

In Santiago, 325 km away from the epicentre, the quake still registered eight on the Richter scale.

“Some of the ramps have collapsed. Some of the highways have really buckled and pancaked. They’re not sure of the structural stability of the buildings because some of them are fairly old.”

Now the Red Deer couple is now watching Facebook for any updates from friends in Chile.

“You can always buy materials to fix your house. Buy a new car.

“But you sure can’t replace family members or loved-ones,” Johnson said.

Lori Lamothe, assistant co-ordinator of finance and administration at the Red Cross in Red Deer, said so far no public donations have come in to the local office for disaster assistance in Chile.

On Monday, the national Red Cross website did not yet include a donation campaign for Chile.

For more information call the Red Deer office at 403-346-1241 or go to www.redcross.ca.

As of 4 p.m. on Monday, Canada Foreign Affairs reported 520 Canadians had been located in Chile and 337 have not.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ice shifted to the shoreline at Sylvan Lake on April 21. (Photo contributed by Andrea Swainson)
Icy shores of Sylvan Lake

A local photographer has captured how the ice has shifted to the… Continue reading

A Loblaws store is seen Monday, March 9, 2015 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
In absence of mandated paid sick days, some companies are stepping up

Only 42 per cent of working Canadians say they have access to paid sick leave

President Joe Biden waves after holding a virtual meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Evan Vucci
New emission-cutting goals called ‘aggressive,’ ‘ambitious’ and ‘illogical’

Canadian industry is being compelled to cut methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Canadian Brooke Henderson vaults into tie for fourth at LPGA Tour event

Henderson is sixth in the world women’s golf rankings

Switzerland’s skip Silvana Tirinzoni makes a call during a women’s curling match against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Natacha Pisarenko
Previously unbeaten women’s teams suffer setbacks at Grand Slam curling event

Top six women’s and men’s teams qualify for the playoffs.

FILE - Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gadot is using her Hollywood star power to spotlight remarkable women from around the world. The “Wonder Woman” actor is host and executive producer of a new documentary series “National Geographic Presents IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” premiering Monday, April 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Gal Gadot spotlights women’s stories in new docuseries

First episode follows a young Black figure skating coach in Detroit

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday October 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

New program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates permanent status

LtE bug
Letter: Questions around city funding for Westerner

The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs' Nick Foligno (71) and Mitchell Marner (16) celebrate Marner's goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Taylor Pendrith from Richmond Hill, Ont. salutes the crowd after sinking a birdie on the 18th hole to come in at five under par during first round of play at the Canadian Open golf championship Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Most Read