From www.neilpryde.com – Robby Swift writes from Chile where he is stuck in the earthquake zone
The last two days have been probably the most frightening of my entire life. The violence of the initial earthquake was quite unbelievable, they say it was the 5th most violent on record, and it was quite astounding. I was in bed asleep when the house started creaking. Then the whole place started shaking and bouncing Heidy and I around on our bed as we clung to each other. The heavy bed that was hard to lift with three people was thrown around the room like rag dolls for about a minute and it seemed as if the whole house would fall down. We could hear glass smashing as every window and glass wall in the place fell down and once the shaking had stopped, we ran outside only to see all the water emptying out of the bay below and then rushing back in to destroy the village.
Thankfully, we hear that all of the people in the village of Matanzas were able to run to high ground before the tsunami came, and they escaped with only minor injuries. The buildings and roads however were another story. Cars had been picked up and deposited 500m up the river, and others had been sucked into the sea. The hotel Surazo has been completely destroyed and many houses have slipped down the cliffs and been crumbled into rubble.
There was a very touching moment when everyone gathered together on the high ground, lighting fires and comforting each other but the true devastation wasn’t seen until the morning and it is obvious that it is going to be a long time until things are back to normal. There is no electricity and no water in the village, or anywhere near. Many of the roads and bridges connecting it to supplies from Santiago have been destroyed and hundreds of electricity pylons have been crushed by landslides or torn down by the force of the earthquake.
We made it to Santiago and are buying water, petrol, food, tools and generators to go back to try to help as much as we can.
It is heart-wrenching to hear the reports on the news here. Humble people who would never ask for anything normally are driven to tears asking for help simply to be able to regain a way to work and provide food and shelter for their families.
The people in the village have lost everything. It is the same story all over southern Chile, and I am sure that there will be a big international drive for aid, but we thought that we should try to do something to help the people we see affected with our own eyes, so we have set up a charity to try to raise money for the town of Matanzas in an attempt to try to help them rebuild the humble way of life that they had two days ago.
[My brother] David has set up the charity to ask for donations which will be used to help rebuild the village and the people there will be immensely grateful for any donation, no matter how small. Matanzas is a well known windsurfing town and while the whole country needs our help, we thought it only right to try to help, in any way we can, the lives of the people we live beside and who provide such a kind welcoming place for people from all over the world to come and enjoy the windsurfing, surfing and kitesurfing conditions.
Anyone who has been to Matanzas will tell you that it is one of the friendliest places in the world. The people will go out of their way to help you to enjoy your holiday, so if we can help in any way, it will be a great way to say thank you and to hopefully enable them to eventually enjoy life as they did before this catastrophe.
The link to the charity is as follows. Thank you in advance for your support.