Gonzalo Brenner | Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I am a 2009 graduate living in Santiago, Chile since May of last year. It is with incredible frustration that I write to you today, as 80 percent of the population of my country has been affected by one of the greatest natural disasters recorded in history.
An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27, leaving thousands in the streets. What was not destroyed by the heavy shaking was taken down by a massive tsunami merely 20 minutes after. The images are saddening, to say the least.
Thankfully, Santiago took the cataclysm quite well, with only a few buildings suffering terminal damage, and a couple highway over-passes collapsing. Concepción, however, did not pass unharmed. Though multiple buildings collapsed, leaving many trapped in the ruins, it is not the physical damage what is affecting the region the most.
Thousands of now-homeless people have resorted to rioting and violence to get a hold of prime necessities like food, medicine, water and fuel. But there are even more people using the situation only to create chaos.
Grocery stores have succumbed to the masses, just like department stores, drugstores and gas stations. People are taking everything they find in their way. News stations have shown images of people carrying refrigerators on their backs, LCD televisions, and even liquor. Some who haven’t found what they were looking for have lit these places on fire. Concepción these days is as close as many of us will get to hell while alive.
It is to end this situation, that many, including myself, have resorted to campaigning to get help from any source we can find. Many Web sites have been established to receive donations directed to the building of emergency housing, a prime necessity to keep the people in Concepción off the streets while the rescue teams are trying to get to those still trapped.
Please go to stanfordchile.org and donate whatever you feel you can to help ease the situation here.
As an alum, I know the Notre Dame family is especially sensitive to those in need. And Chile needs us now. So, on behalf of the entire Chilean people, I will be eternally grateful to you for helping us.
Class of 2009