AS the situation becomes clearer after the April earthquake and tsunami that struck Northern Chile, The Salvation Army is stepping up its relief operation. A state of emergency in the region, which was put in place by the government within hours of the initial quake, is still in operation and – according to a government official – will remain so for the for ‘as long as is necessary’.
The Salvation Army’s South America West Territory has relief teams in place in the affected area, providing assistance to people who have lost homes and livelihoods. Plans are in place to send approximately 20 tonnes of tents, blankets, mattresses and food for distribution. This response is being funded by a US$50,000 donation from the USA Southern Territory.
Emergency canteens (mobile kitchens) are being prepared to send into the worst-hit areas, although many are still difficult to reach because of damage to roads. The territory is also looking at the possibility of working with communities to build basic wooden houses for people who have lost homes and belongings.
In the community of Alto Hospicio, around 2,000 houses were destroyed and 30 fishing boats were washed away, leaving fishermen with no means of earning a living. Salvation Army team members have also managed to make it through to Camarones and Huara to check on needs and damage and to help people wherever possible.