Firsthand account of the earthquake

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#1
SI, NY
373 Posts
Joined May 2000
NOTE: We are leaving our hotel in Santiago today to board the Star Princess at Valparaiso. What follows is a very brief summary of our experience:

What can you say about an earthquake far from home?... Not much, except you sympathize with those people who were affected. What can you say about an earthquake far from home that you were involved in?...Read on...

My wife and I were headed to Santiago to rendezvous with the Star Princess in Valaparaiso four days later. We flew out of Newark airport on February 25 during a major snowstorm on the first leg of our flight to Toronto. We arrived in Toronto and faced a three hour delay and left for Santiago, Chile at 2:30AM. We finally landed, finished with customs, picked up our bags and were on our way to our small boutique hotel in the Provedencia section of Santiago. We cheked in, then went out and had a wonderful dinner and toasted each other with these words: "We dodged a major snow storm and thank goodness we're here in Santiago!"

Fast forward...3:34AM,February 26...We were awoken by a loud thunderous sound and the bed began to shake. I thought it was a major thunderstorm. My wife, Shelley, said it must be an earthquake.The horendous loud noises, dogs barking in the street, lamps crashing to the floors, the bed moving, and car sirens blasting, was followed by an erie silence for about a minute or two.The earthquake lasted about 2 minutes.

After it stopped, Shelley sat up on the edge of the bed, while I walked to the bathroom window to look out into the street.I saw nothing--all lights were out--there was no electricity.I opened the door to our room and peeked out as others did the same. We quickly put on our clothes on in the dark(didn´t have my camera to show the various outfits people put together on such short notice!).

We left our room and gingerly walked down the stairs to the street. Some of the hotel guests had flashlights which lit our way. There was no panic from any of the guests. When we got to the street we met our fellow guests. The conversations ranged from "what happened", "is anyone hurt", to "where are the police" and "I left everything in my room". At the urging of Shelley, I went to the room to get our money, passports, etc. I didn´t have a flashlight, but used the screen light from my iTouch, to light the way.(Note to Apple: this could be a great new commercial). One the two staff members, had rushed home to check on his family and who immediately returned to the hotel, moved his car to the front of the hotel and turned on the radio so we could listen to the news reports in Spanish, as a guest translated for us.

The staff set candles, got water, and helped us in every way possible(kudos to Hotel Orly!). The guests bonded. The lights came on briefly and then went out. Nighttime turned into early morning as the aftershocks started.

The people of Santiago were tremendous. Everyone has been helpful. The city had mostly minor damage and as of yesterday, everything was back to normal--stores reopened, subways were running, people were food shopping. Santiago and us were very lucky.

Our hearts go out to others in Chile whose lives have been changed forever by the earthquake. Chile is a strong country and will rebuild.
#2
Post Falls Idaho
806 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Wow Rusty - that must have been quite an experience. We found out last night that we are booked for a flight today and will arrive in Santiago tomorrow morning. Hope to see you on the ship. Do you know what the plan is now for a Meet and Greet? We sure would look forward to meeting everyone who makes it.
Barb & Norm
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#3
Toronto, ON, Fort Lauderdale, FL
4,251 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Wow that must have been really frightening, especially being so far from home. Glad you two are OK. I hope the people of Chile recovers from this horrible earthquake quickly.
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#4
Cruiseville
1,555 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Thank you for your first hand account. I hope and pray for the people of Chile.
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#5
SI, NY
373 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by barjolov
Wow Rusty - that must have been quite an experience. We found out last night that we are booked for a flight today and will arrive in Santiago tomorrow morning. Hope to see you on the ship. Do you know what the plan is now for a Meet and Greet? We sure would look forward to meeting everyone who makes it.
Barb & Norm
We'll be there. It will have to be rescheduled because of the delayed time we leave. I don't think there will be that many people who are on the first leg--so many cancellations.

BTW--the Star is in port!
#7
TN
5,517 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Thanks for the first hand account.
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#8
New Jersey
1,547 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Thank you for the "almost live" account of your experience. It would be very interesting if someone on the cruise leaving Valpariso today (tomorrow?) could do a live thread indicating how full or empty the ship is, how people got to the ship, etc.
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#10
907 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Thank you for your report - glad to hear that Santiago is recovering quickly. The people and city were so nice on our visit last year.

My heart goes out to all those in Chile and hope that the recovery goes well for the other affected areas and safe keeping for the citizens.
#12
Montreal Canada
6,561 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
My son and I were in Chile in Jan prior to our cruise on Star.When we visited Valpo our guide pointed out the cliffs and precarious way some houses were perched on them I remember my thoughts then were they better never have an earthquake. At best their electric wiring left a lot to be desired ...way substandard to our safety regulations .Wires hung from everywhere and tangled masses.Our guide did tell us Valpo was on a fault line where the houses were ...OY
WHAT DOES VALPO look like now .My screensavers are pix of Valpo ...does it still look like that???/Probably notThe devastation there must be tremendous Does anyone have recent pix?
My heart goes out to all the poor people who are left homeless >I hope gov'ts step in to help
To the OP thank god you are OK .I;m not sure what you will see on your voyage ....or how bad the destuction further south is.....
Does anyone think there is a connection between Haiti's earthquake,the mudslides in Machu Pichu and now this earthquake ...HEAVEN forbid Who is next ???They seem to be on the same line ....
to the OP take care

Michele
#13
Palmdale, Ca
31,902 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by Rusty
NOTE: We are leaving our hotel in Santiago today to board the Star Princess at Valparaiso. What follows is a very brief summary of our experience:

What can you say about an earthquake far from home?... Not much, except you sympathize with those people who were affected. What can you say about an earthquake far from home that you were involved in?...Read on...

My wife and I were headed to Santiago to rendezvous with the Star Princess in Valaparaiso four days later. We flew out of Newark airport on February 25 during a major snowstorm on the first leg of our flight to Toronto. We arrived in Toronto and faced a three hour delay and left for Santiago, Chile at 2:30AM. We finally landed, finished with customs, picked up our bags and were on our way to our small boutique hotel in the Provedencia section of Santiago. We cheked in, then went out and had a wonderful dinner and toasted each other with these words: "We dodged a major snow storm and thank goodness we're here in Santiago!"

Fast forward...3:34AM,February 26...We were awoken by a loud thunderous sound and the bed began to shake. I thought it was a major thunderstorm. My wife, Shelley, said it must be an earthquake.The horendous loud noises, dogs barking in the street, lamps crashing to the floors, the bed moving, and car sirens blasting, was followed by an erie silence for about a minute or two.The earthquake lasted about 2 minutes.

After it stopped, Shelley sat up on the edge of the bed, while I walked to the bathroom window to look out into the street.I saw nothing--all lights were out--there was no electricity.I opened the door to our room and peeked out as others did the same. We quickly put on our clothes on in the dark(didn´t have my camera to show the various outfits people put together on such short notice!).

We left our room and gingerly walked down the stairs to the street. Some of the hotel guests had flashlights which lit our way. There was no panic from any of the guests. When we got to the street we met our fellow guests. The conversations ranged from "what happened", "is anyone hurt", to "where are the police" and "I left everything in my room". At the urging of Shelley, I went to the room to get our money, passports, etc. I didn´t have a flashlight, but used the screen light from my iTouch, to light the way.(Note to Apple: this could be a great new commercial). One the two staff members, had rushed home to check on his family and who immediately returned to the hotel, moved his car to the front of the hotel and turned on the radio so we could listen to the news reports in Spanish, as a guest translated for us.

The staff set candles, got water, and helped us in every way possible(kudos to Hotel Orly!). The guests bonded. The lights came on briefly and then went out. Nighttime turned into early morning as the aftershocks started.

The people of Santiago were tremendous. Everyone has been helpful. The city had mostly minor damage and as of yesterday, everything was back to normal--stores reopened, subways were running, people were food shopping. Santiago and us were very lucky.

Our hearts go out to others in Chile whose lives have been changed forever by the earthquake. Chile is a strong country and will rebuild.
So glad you are okay.....

Bob
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#14
Florida, USA
1,372 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Wow what an experience, one which I am sure you will never forget. Thank goodness you both are ok. Nice to hear how everyone stuck together and helped each other. My heart goes out to those in the hard hit areas.
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#15
Central Ohio
3,067 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Thank you so much for the report.

I've seen photos of the airport. It wasn't destroyed, but there sure was some damage. We were there on December 9. Our guide, too, talked about the huge 1960 earthquake and the building standards that are now in place.

My heart goes out to all of Chile. They are wonderful people.
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#17
New Jersey
1,408 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Great report. When I lived in California, I endured three earthquakes including the 1994 Northridge quake. They can be quite traumatic. Glad to hear you are OK. Enjoy your cruise.
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#18
Oregon
801 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
When was the Star originally scheduled to leave Valpo, and when is it actually leaving? How will they adjust the itinerary? Same amount of days, or cut it short? What about the cruise after yours?
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#19
12,205 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
Wow, that is one travel memory you will never forgot! Good to hear that you're alright and how helpful everyone was. Enjoy the cruise and be thankful you're there. Bon voyage!
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#20
1,739 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Thanks for this report. Sorry your trip has started off rough but hope your cruise turns out to be one of your best yet.

May God be with the people of Chile.