I spoke with my Chilean family yesterday. It sounds like a mess, but internet, telephone and electricity is finally back- and all the people I know well seem to be safe.
The main bridges connecting Concepcion with the suburbs all fell down, several buildings in the University where I did my study abroad burned, looters took all the gasoline and raided the super markets. The army is now on patrol. The towns on the coast no longer exist.
Grandmother Tota has lived through three major earthquakes now. She said this one was far the worst.
Everyone in Concepcion knew that a big one was coming, eventually, just like we do in San Francisco. It’s one of the hazards of living on an active fault line.
My Chilean mother said they should have been better prepared. They should have had a box with working flashlights and a hand radio, toilet paper, some matches, the phone numbers of friends and relatives written down, and basic survival supplies. When the whole city shuts down those are the things you want.
I know many people in the Bay Area who probably don’t have these things either. We know it’s going to happen sometime, but we live as if we don’t expect it to. I’d encourage everyone to pack a box up of emergency supplies, make sure you have a few gallons of water, and throw it in the closet where you can forget about it. You never know, and it’s better to be prepared.
There’s some great website about emergency preparedness. 72hours.org seems like one of the best.