3:00 P.M. EST March 2, 2010
Women cry next to a destroyed building in Talca, Chile.
courtesy of Rodrigo Linfati.
A feeling of uncertainty lingers for survivors of Chile’s massive
earthquake as the country struggles to recover.
Continuing aftershocks and televised images of damage, desperation
and violence has left everyone “in a state of unhealthy alert,” said
the Rev. Shana Harrison, a United Methodist missionary based in
“Fear and anger seem to be growing bigger each day as people
continue to wait to hear news from their loved ones,” she said in a
March 1 e-mail. “Today, opinions and critiques of how things are being
handled have begun to fly. Impatience and intolerance are on the rise.”
Harrison expects the situation to improve as people learn about how
they can help their neighbors.
“Please continue to keep the Chilean people in your prayers,” wrote
Harrison, executive director of the Foundation Crescendo, a workshop
and group home for adults with intellectual disabilities. “There is a
long, long road ahead.”
Unrest continued in parts of Chile as President Michelle Bachelet
used government troops to maintain control over looting and vandalism.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Bachelet said that 50 military
flights with food, water and other supplies would be deployed March 2
to the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, which has claimed at least
The United Nations said that its World Food Programme was ready to
transport 30 tons of food from nearby Ecuador. U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton arrived March 2 in Santiago as part of a
six-nation tour of Latin America and pledged U.S. support for
Prayers and solidarity
In a March 1 letter to Bachelet, the top executive of the World
Council of Churches offered prayers and solidarity to the Chilean
people. The Methodist Church of Chile is among the country’s five
member churches of the council.
Cars lie overturned after the highway they were traveling on in Santiago
View in Photo Gallery
“Pastoral accompaniment is urgently needed,” wrote the Rev.
Olav Fykse Tveit. “Churches play a crucial role praying with the
people, accompanying the people, strengthening their struggle and
resilience and rebuilding hope.”
The Council of Evangelical Methodist Churches of Latin America also
issued a letter joining hands “in solidarity, prayer and fasting with
our brothers and sisters that are suffering the consequences of an
The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working with the
Methodist Church of Chile and Methodists are part of an ecumenical team
headed March 4 from Santiago to the devastated city of Concepción,
which is still thought to be without electricity, running water or
Church members were able to confirm the status of U.S. volunteer
teams serving in Chile on Feb. 27. A team from the denomination’s
Oregon-Idaho Annual (regional) Conference was working with United
Methodist Missionary John Elmore in Valdivia, which was unaffected by
the earthquake. A Wisconsin Conference team, also safe, was working in
La Granja. Both teams are still in Chile.
With an initial emergency grant of $10,000 from UMCOR, the Methodist
Church of Chile is assessing needs and bringing food and water to what
the Rev. Juan Salazar, president of the Methodist Social Ministry,
calls an “extremely urgent” situation.
Salazar also advised UMCOR that regional emergency teams would
coordinate the distribution of supplies and make other needs
In a March 1 letter, Methodist Bishop Mario Martinez noted damage to
churches and parsonages in the earthquake-affected areas, including
Santiago, Angol, Chillán and Concepción, as well as a lack of water,
electricity, telephone service and other basic services.
The church and its relief arm, the Methodist Humanitarian Action
Team, are coordinating efforts with ecumenical and nongovernmental
partners and in cooperation with the Chilean government’s emergency
UMCOR led a three-day training session on disaster preparedness and
emergency response training for about 20 members of the Chilean church
Donations to the relief efforts of UMCOR and the Methodist Church of
Chile can be made online to Chile Emergency Advance # 3021178. Donations also
can be sent by check to UMCOR and dropped in church offering plates or
mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate in
the memo line of the check that it is for the Chile Emergency.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.