For many years, Chileans have feared “the big one.” The Nazca and South American tectonic plates rub up against each other just off the coast of Iquique, where a “seismic gap” has been building up for 137 years. On April 1, 2014 an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Tarapacá Region, Chile. A six-foot tsunami and several strong aftershocks, including one of 7.6 magnitude, followed. Arica and Iquique, where most of the population is concentrated, have received waves up to 10 feet, provoking power cuts, fires and landslides. More than 900,000 people – most of them reportedly well prepared with flashlights and loaded backpacks – evacuated to higher ground. Chile’s president declared the Tarapacá Region and the Region of Arica and Parinacota as disaster areas.
Through One Great Hour of Sharing funds, the United Church of Christ is part of networks of response that are listening to local groups in monitoring and assessing need for outside accompaniment in recovery. There currently is no reported need for water, food or shelter materials. In these early days after the event, many in the area are showing stress and traumatic systems. You are part of networks already enabling the strategizing work of psychosocial support community-based experts from the region.