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Compiled by Kristen Cole   Date: 3/8/10 Bookmark and Share

Smithie Gets Close Up View of Chilean Quake

Rachel Miller ’09

Rachel Miller ’09, who worked as the college relations writing intern her senior year, was visiting a friend in Santiago, Chile, the nation’s capital, where she witnessed firsthand the 8.8-magnitude earthquake on February 27, and numerous aftershocks. It is estimated that more than 300 people died in Chile as a result of the earthquake. Miller is visiting hard-hit villages south of Santiago this week to assist with clean-up and delivery of needed supplies. She recently answered questions for the Gate.

Grécourt Gate: Where were you during the earthquake and aftershocks? Had you experienced an earthquake before? What was it like?

Rachel Miller: I was here in Santiago sleeping when the first one came. I've been in Santiago for all the aftershocks, too. I've never experienced anything even close to an Earthquake—I'm from Minnesota, and that stuff doesn't happen there. It felt like being on a big heavy boat, rocking back and forth. Like sitting on thunder, but without the sound.

Gate: How has the country mobilized since the earthquake? Has life returned to "normal" in any way?

The February 27 earthquake struck near Concepción, Chile's second-largest metropolitan center, about 200 miles south of Santiago.

RM: People are working regular workdays in Santiago, going through inspections to make sure their buildings are solid. All around Santiago volunteers meet to organize donations and to put together packages of food and water to send to the more severely affected areas. Troops have been sent to various cities to control incidents of robbery and to stop the sacking of grocery stores. Life in Santiago is more quickly returning to normal than life in the smaller towns. In those places life won't return to normal for another four, five years, until industries can be re-established and houses can be rebuilt. The most exciting thing about not returning to normal is watching chilenos band together. You can't drive a mile in the south without seeing a Chilean flag, and all the cars are scrawled in white paint: VAMOS CHILE! FUERZA CHILE! (Let's go Chile, Chile Power!).

Gate: What do you recommend we do to support Chile's recovery effort?

RM: If you can't fly down to help build someone's house, then go to the Salvation Army's Web site and donate some money. It'll take billions of dollars to rebuild the thousands of small towns that have been decimated, the fishing industry, the flattened wine-growing regions.


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