A Tale Of Two Earthquakes, Ctd


A reader writes:

I saw your updated story from the man who posted the original photo from his office window in Santiago, Chile last Friday.  Also, ironically, that day--right before the earthquake--I reposted this View From Your Window on my Facebook page in honor of my son, Adam, and daughter-in-law, Paola, who were in Chile on vacation.  My daughter-in-law, who is originally from Chile, was with her sisters, nephew, and mother at her sister's house in Santiago when the quake hit.  My son and his brother-in-law were on Robinson Crusoe Island that day. 

Fortunately they are all OK.  We finally were able to talk to them by phone yesterday.  The sister-in-law's house is mostly intact, but Robinson Crusoe Island had some major tsunami waves and took a lot of damage.  My son and his brother-in-law just barely escaped, with water rushing in a back patio door of their hotel room--in the dark, in their underwear, and my son with with only one shoe. His room was on the third floor (about 35 feet up).  They climbed up the cliff (the house was built into the cliff--the patio door they escaped out of was on the cliff side) and on the way up my son was handed the little daughter of the inn's owner who needed to go back into the house to try to save his wife. 

My son--carrying this little girl--and his brother-in-law went up the cliff as far as they could reasonably go in the dark and stayed there for awhile.  They were joined by other survivors. Some of them were able to light a fire for warmth and light.  When it was light enough they went to a house further up on the cliff to get warm, etc.  My son told me that the little girl clung to him "like an octopus" for hours because she was so terrified.  She only left his side when she able to fall asleep.  Later there they were joined by their innkeeper and his wife who had miraculously also survived. 

After the danger passed they went back to their inn to see what they could salvage.  The house was still standing and they were able to reclaim a lot of their things, including my son's digital camera that was strangely still intact (with many photos capturing the island's beauty in the week before the quake).  He took several photos of the tsunami aftermath.  They were not able to get off the island for 4 days (and have stories to tell about the politics of that). 

It is amazing how fast things can change like your sense of calm.  We feel very fortunate that our loved ones survived when many did not.

The above photo was submitted by the reader's son. Another reader writes:

I just wanted to quickly write to let you know about Robinson Crusoe Island (also known as Isla Juan Fernandez). It’s a small, isolated island four hundred miles off the coast of Chile. The island is rich with history – including pirates, buried treasure and the real-life inspiration for Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe – but unfortunately lacking in resources. In 2006, I was part of a team of Chilean and American journalism students who went to the island and built a documentary website.

Minutes after last week’s earthquake struck Chile’s mainland, Robinson Crusoe Island was pummeled by a tsunami that, according to AP reports, covered nearly two miles of the island. When the wave retreated, it took with it nearly all of the island’s small fishing settlement. Just about everything is wiped out – their school, community center, fishing boats, supply stores, homes.

Some of us who created the site back in 2006 have put together a new video showing photos from before and after, and we have links to where visitors can find out more and donate directly to the island’s people.