From Pastor Harrison’s Mercy Journeys blog.
“This event in Chile is far worse than ever imagined,” said Rev. Glenn Merritt, director of Disaster Response with LCMS World Relief and Human Care, who arrived in Chile March 19 with WR-HC’s Rev. Carlos Hernandez to assess earthquake damages with the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile (IELCHI).
The death toll has reached 800 in Chile since the Feb. 27 earthquake and tsunami, and an estimated 500,000 homes were destroyed. Earlier this month, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet reported that rebuilding could take up to three years and cost as much as $30 billion.
In the coastal town of Constitución, near the epicenter, four tsunami waves, one reaching 30-feet, washed away the first 6-8 blocks of beachfront property. Merritt said military divers searched Monday for more than 300 people still missing – many who were attending a party on an island peninsula as the waves hit.
Upwards of 2,500 displaced Chileans are living in six-by-eight-foot wooden structures at one government-run refugee camp in the coastal city. In the weeks following the earthquake, IELCHI pastors have gone door-to-door in these camps, assessing how people are doing and identifying what aid is needed.
“There is no water, no sanitation, no power, and not adequate food,” said Merritt of one emergency camp in Constitución. LCMS World Relief and Human Care, in partnership with the IELCHI, will explore beginning a feeding program at the camp and providing limited electrical services to each structure. Refugee families who do not qualify for government assistance are filling out grant applications with the IELCHI. The church will provide grants as it is able.
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