The Salvation Army in Chile is providing vital assistance to coastal communities damaged by a tsunami. Waves up to five meters high destroyed everything in their path after being set off by an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale.
The response is focused mainly on the communities of Dichato and Caleta Tumbes, where many local people fled to high ground and watched as the tsunami destroyed their homes, possessions and livelihoods, and in some instances took the lives of their loved ones.
Salvation Army officers and volunteers are working selflessly in these coastal communities to provide food, water and clothes, helping to clear and clean properties that are still standing, and offering spiritual support. In one camp volunteers are running a children’s club to try and assist in their recovery.
Among the many things destroyed by the tsunami were the communities’ fishing fleets. This time of year is the most important for sardine fishermen, the season lasting only three months, and many earn almost their entire annual income in this short period.
The fishermen now just stand by the coast, looking out to sea, not knowing when they will be able to fish again or how they will provide for their families. One option being considered by The Salvation Army is to replace the boats that were swept away. This will depend on finding donors who can support the scheme.
The secretary of the fishermen’s cooperative in Caleta Tumbes thanked The Salvation Army for all it was doing in the community and appealed for it to continue to give assistance.
The Salvation Army continues to explore further avenues of providing assistance and plans to provide support well into the future.