Chicagoans wait for word from Chile

February 27, 2010 8:40:02 PM PST
Getting in touch with friends or relatives in Chile has been difficult for many people in the Chicago area, and the wait for information can be very frustrating.When land lines and cell phones failed, people turned to the Internet. Thankfully, in some cases, Chileans outside of the immediate impact zone were getting word on friends and relatives in areas hard hit, then posting information online.

"Bridges are down. My hometown is totally isolated," said Chilean-American Rev. Oscar Carrasco.

Carrasco hosted a gathering at his home Saturday night for friends and fellow Chileans anxiously awaiting information.

Carrasco's family lives just 75 miles from the epicenter of the quake. Late Saturday, a bit of good news passed via Facebook from a relative who lives outside of the quake zone.

"My 94-year-old mother, Sarah, was thrown from her bed during the earthquake. Another family member came and very much rescued her," said Carrasco.

Others continued to wait for word Saturday night.

"We have called their cells, their homes, hospitals and churches, and we have not been able to get a hold of them," said Chilean-American Rev. Shirley Pulgar-Hughes.

On Chicago's North Side, a restaurant owned by a couple from Chile is where some are getting their news.

"The house is torn down, but the family is good," said Eddy Quijada, who has relatives in Chile.

The Chilean Consultate in Chicago has set up a Web site to connect those looking for loved ones with information as it trickles out of areas hard hit. ABC7 is told the Consulate can be reached at and through its Facebook page,

"Many people in some areas outside of the area of the earthquake, they have Internet, they have electricity, and they have television, and they help," said Jose Gonzalez, consul general of Chile.

The Chilean quake was far stronger than the one last month in Haiti. However, early indications are that the deaths and damage are not as severe.

Those with a love for the country of Chile and its people said Saturday they hoped the outpouring of help for Chile would be as intense as it was for Haiti.

"Great sadness to see such a beautiful country just falling apart," Pulgar-Hughes told ABC7 Chicago.

"There is strong character, faith and sense of community. I think it will rise again," said Carrasco.

Reverend Carrasco was a boy in Chile in 1960 when an even more powerful quake hit. It registered 9.5 on the Richter scale. He says the ground didn't shake; instead, it rolled, like hills charging toward you.