8.8 Earthquake Expat Experiences – Chile

My experience of an 8.8 Earthquake in Chile

Almost a year has passed since the Mega earthquake that shook central and southern Chile during the early morning hours of the 27th of February 2010.

It was 8.8 (on the Richter scale) at its epicentre near Concepción making it the 5th strongest earthquake in recorded history. In Santiago, where we were when it happened, it was “only” around 8.3.

The last post I wrote on our old blog was about the experience of myself and my family during that catastrophic event. The post was an honest, very open expression of our feelings and fears from that horrible night (not much fun being on the 22nd floor for a quake that big). … and that was the last we wrote on that blog.

BUT, I am only one of the many foreigners that happened to be in the country at the time and only recently I starting looking for and reading (or re-reading) the experiences of others that were here that night.

Below are some of the articles that I have found…

Expat Experiences of the 8.8 Earthquake

Rob Woodward: My Earthquake Experience
Was in apartment on the 22nd floor when it happened.

Margaret Snook: Chile’s Earthquake – the 8.8 experience
Margaret was in Concón at the time

Liz Caskey: Earthquake in Chile
Check her podcast on right for NZ radio station

Abby:Earthquake 8.8 on the Richter Scale Hits Chile
Written about an hour and a half after the quake (offline of course) due to lack of sleep (who could?).

Matt Ridgeway: Earthquake in Santa Cruz, Chile
Includes photos of the damage to Santa Cruz where he is based

André: Earthquake in Santiago
André included a video of the damage inside his apartment

Emily: The Earthquake in Chile
Interesting part hubby talking to his parents in Iloca when the wave came in. Only then realised the real impact of the quake.

Leigh: The Earthquake
Loved her emergency evacuation kit

Kyle Hepp: Massive Earthquake Hits Chile
Yes, it’s the big one! Those survival guides come in handy after all!

Lydia: My first Earthquake
Her first earthquake happened to be a big one. She was in Valparaiso at the time.

Andrea: Ack! Earthquake in Chile! … and I live here.
Living in the SF Bay area didn’t prepare her for this one.

Suzanne Soto: The Ground is still shaking
A Canadian on sabbatical in Chile at the time.

Tyffanie: My tale of the earthquake in Chile on February 27
Had just arrived in Viña when it happened.

Shannon: All shook up
Details of the moments before, during and after.

Amardeep:27th Feb 2010
At a disco (night club) when it struck (in Concepción)

My Nutshell: Earthquake!
Descriptive account of that night

Leslie: Natural Disaster
The experience with kids

Laura: Chile Earthquake 2010
Experienced it in the countryside.

Paige Brown: Earthquake Update
Was on a intercity bus at the time, 50 miles from the epicenter.

How do I feel now a year later?
It seems like a distant memory. The worry and panic during the aftershocks the weeks (and months) after have now subsided. The fear of walking into our apartment at night has also gone.

Whenever we feel a tremor (or quake) now, it’s like… oh the building is moving again, pass the salt please. We’ll only worry if it gets really strong. (See my cartoon about how Chileans react during earthquakes)

A couple of months ago there was a strong quake of about 7.0 and it was interesting how most Chileans only called it a “tremor”, not a quake. Most of us now feel the same way.

Also, whenever I read about a quake in another part of the world I think, “That was only a 6 point something and it appeared in the news? That’s nothing!”

On the bright side
Hopefully one of the positive things is that we won’t (that is, I hope we don’t) have another big earthquake in Chile for another 25 years. The last major ones were 1960 (9.5 – the world’s strongest recorded quake), 1985 (8.0) then 2010 (8.8) which means I’m going on a one-year holiday in 2035 as far away as possible from Chile.

Other blog posts
If you have written an article about your experience of the 2010 earthquake and it doesn’t appear here, let us know so we can link to it.

One year later, how do YOU feel?

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8 Responses to “8.8 Earthquake Expat Experiences – Chile”

  1. Emily February 21, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I can’t believe it’s been almost a year. I did laugh at your “building’s moving, pass the salt” comment just because for whatever reason that’s how I’ve always felt about earthquakes. I think growing up in California made me immune to the fear, and I’d guess that plenty of people who’ve only experienced earthquakes in Chile are starting to feel the same after so much movement this past year.

    Great round-up.

    • woodward February 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      It was going to be “pass the pisco” but people don’t need to know about our alcohol addiction 😉
      But seriously, it needs to be a 6 point something to get our attention now, the rest are just “whatever!”
      Rob W.

  2. Magda February 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    I was in Santiago during the earthquake. I arrived from Easter Island a few hours earlier and was suppose to fly back to Europe the following morning. I was at the hostel when the earthquake started. It was absolutely terrifying experience. Airport got seriously destroyed, and as a result I ended up staying in Chile for almost a week longer than planned.

    • woodward February 24, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      How’s that for bad timing. I remember the airport being a mess with huge things (200kg air conditioning units or something) that had fallen from the ceiling. Anyone found underneath would have been squashed! I suppose you were lucky that you weren’t at the airport at the time.
      Did you write about the experience at all? (I couldn’t find anything on your blog)

      • Magda February 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

        I wrote about it on my other travel blog, but it is in Polish, so I guess it will be of no use for you :)

        • woodward February 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

          No problem, I can just add a (in Polish) next to it.

  3. Andrea February 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    This is a great list of experiences. We are heading to Chile next week and after being only a week out of Christchurch before the earthquake hit there. Have to say we are a little apprehensive about the earthquake potential in Chile – we just wonder how it will go with our limited Spanish skills in case of an emergency. But it seems that the aftershocks there now are minimal. I can’t imagine being in such a big earthquake. I’ve only ever experienced a 4.something in San Francisco and even that shaking freaked me out a bit.

    • woodward February 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      You will most likely feel a little shake at some point, especially when you head south since after an 8.8 we are expected to have them for ANOTHER 3 years. Though it’s nothing to worry about since they shouldn’t be that strong.
      As for Spanish, it shouldn’t be a problem, just recommend that if you see people running to the hills… follow them! (Don’t need Spanish for that)

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