Wrapping “strong arms around Chile”

Salvation Army teams in Chile assist communities affected by earthquake and tsunami.

Strong aftershocks heightened the feeling of fear in Chile weeks after the magnitude 8.8 earthquake and tsunami on Feb. 27, 2010. Three shocks as Chile was inaugurating its new president on March 11 measured around seven on the Richter scale.

The Salvation Army in Chile has been distributing aid and clearing debris throughout the country, reaching more than 15,000 people and providing 14,000 rations of food to individuals and families. Some 350 volunteers have assisted.

A campaign called “Strong Arms Around Chile” has been established to help collect donations and goods for delivery to those most in need.

The Salvation Army is focusing its efforts in southern Chile, particularly coastal regions; these areas were hit hardest by the disaster.

Baskets of necessities were distributed in Caleta Tumbes, Hualpén and Concepción—around the epicenter of the earthquake. A well on the grounds of Hualpencillo Corps in Hualpén provides water to the neighborhood.

The Salvation Army’s Central Division in Chile sent 20 tons of food, clothing and water to the cities of Concepción and Hualpén, including some goods purchased with funds received from overseas. Supplies were organized at the Concepción Corps. The corps officers went to the affected zones to see where the aid was most needed; they identified the community of Dichato. Unfortunately, because of contamination, the military was not allowing anyone into the community.

Eventually a Salvation Army team gained access to the New Dawn camp in Dichato—comprised of 180 families, approximately 850 people. The team also visited Villa los Sauces, which has a number of temporary settlements, and the area of Coliumo, where many people are living in small makeshift camps on the side of the road.

At each location, volunteers distributed goods, including food, water and some tents. Three volunteers, rotating every few days, are living in a tent in the New Dawn camp. Plans are underway to set up a community kitchen. Salvationists and volunteers have helped clear debris and have lifted people’s spirits with times of worship.

The Concepción Corps has assumed responsibility for people in Dichato, Coliumo, Lota, Coronel and Hualqui; the Hualpén Corps will visit and document the communities of Las Salinas, Lenga, Talcahuano and Caleta Tumbes. Some of these areas are dealing with devastation from both the earthquake and the tsunami.

Major Raelton Gibbs (International Emergency Services) is now in Chile to assist and advise the local Salvation Army teams.

Donations may be made online at; to donate $10 using your cell phone, text “CHILE” to 52000 and confirm with the word, “Yes.”

From a Salvation Army emergency news report

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