Yesterday we were finally able to get our four wheeler Honda repaired here in Santiago. After getting caught by the tsunami and rolled inland for about a quarter of a mile, it only needed a carburetor cleaning, oil change and a new headlight. Gotta say these Honda bikes are TOUGH!!
This means we are back in business if we are able to trap again. But with all of the devastation, it is really difficult to focus on trapping.
We are in touch with Paul at Putu and he is busy today delivering supplies to the coastal towns of La Pesca and Iloca to the north of Putu. Both are right on the coast and both were hit hard.
So not only are many buildings down or damaged substantially (especially most of the older adobe buildings) as a result of the immense shaking and rocking but then the people living there also got hit with not just one but several huge tsunamis.
For example, we could tell from the water marks on our previous "rooms" at Pauls that there were at least 8 really good solid waves that came in. Different reports say the second or the third wave was the worst...we really don´t know. It all happened in the dark.
Add to all of this devastation a scarcity of fresh water, food, gas and finally diesel (to operate heavy equipment) and you get an idea of the desperation of the situation.
Santiago is getting back to normal. We came here last Sunday after the tsunami because Steve Gibby had to get back to shoot a Heart concert in Seattle tomorrow night. Professional engagement. And he has quite a story to tell on that one. Airport closed. All flights cancelled. No idea when he could get out. So he had to take an all night bus across the Andes to Buenos Aires, Argentina (22 hours) and fly out of there. Fortunatley, I just talked to him and he made it home to California just in time. So that was our first goal and obligation.
Many more businesses are open here today and most of the electricity is back on. The Metro was always OK even though it is underground. Pretty remarkable.
Most of the damage locally was in the outlying areas. Entire sections of bridges and overpasses are down blocking the main freeways south. One section of the "ring" freeway that circles the town by the airport came down and several cars drove right off of it and out into the open air. Same lesson...drive slowly after an earthquake.
There have been several good aftershocks happening regularly which is usual for a large quake but knowing that doesn´t help much when the bed starts moving in the middle of the night with a 5 or 6 magnitude quake. Unsettling to say the least but the Chileans take it all in stride with their long culture of earthquakes.
We are planning to return to Putu to see what we can do there. We are putting together some supplies to take down in Lula Belle. I have heard that the road out to Pauls is supposed to open today which will allow the fishermen to get back to their launches which are strewn far and wide all over the dunes, some boats over a quarter mile inland. Long fish nets are everywhere.
This entry point (Pauls road) to the coast is where I would estimate over 100 fishermen/women take their boats out to sea to fish for reinita and corvina every day . After being out all night, they bring their boats in and a tractor would drag them up and across the gravel beach. Trucks and buyers would pick up the fresh fish and take them into the world famous fish market in Santiago.
So fishing was an economic mainstay of the area and took place right in front of Pauls hotel and restaurant every day. We used to love to watch and examine the catch. Even saw some Humboldt squid in the catch.
So now the fishermen are faced with getting this whole operation back on its feet again so they can make some money, feed their families and get their house re-built. I can tell you that these are extremely hardworking, tough, salt of the earth people that put all they have into making a living. We have been watching this process every year we have come down and we always marvel at the people involved.
So this morning Kathy and I were trying to figure out what we could do to help, and we came up with the idea of starting a relief fund through the FRG and the Southern Cross Project to get them some help. This started as a result of an e-mail from Katherine Schloemers daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Michael Ritter. Thanks guys. We should have been on this earlier.
So with the help of a satellite phone and the advice of Jim Bishop, President of Summit Bank, 723 Haggen Drive, Burlington WA 98233 (360) 757-0100, we have set up a means of getting money wired directly from the US to Santiago. From there we will be working either with the people directly or through a good friend here in Chile to direct the funds towards the fishermen of Putu.
If you would like to contribute to this fund, please send your donation directly to Summit Bank. All of the funds will be used specifically for the relief effort and nothing else. It is our intent to direct this effort to where it will do the most good, i.e. to help the people of Region 7 of Chile.
Thanks for your help.
PS We are going to try to add some of the pics we got to this blog so you can see what we are talking about.