Ill. man talks about Chile earthquake

March 1, 2010 2:22:07 PM PST
A man from Illinois is giving his firsthand account of the earthquake in Chile.Dave Mackinson is from Pontiac, southwest of Chicago. But he's currently living in Santiago, Chile, north of the quake's epicenter.

"I thought I had a flat tire," he said.

Mackinson was driving his car south of Santiago when the quake hit. As his car rocked, he said he thought he had a flat tire.

"I got out of the car, I was thinking that -- I actually had no idea what was happening. I still hadn't connected it to an earthquake," Mackinson said. "I'm a central Illinois boy. We have tornadoes; we don't' have earthquakes."

But since then he's had plenty of time to see the damage done by the quake in person and through the media in Chile. He took pictures of the damaged Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago's city center.

"We can't actually leave Santiago," Mackinson said. "Most of the major expressways or interstates connecting north and south have been snapped or destroyed. So, they're advising people, the best thing to do, is literally stay where you're at."

South of Santiago, Mackinson's friends were sending him pictures of the coastal towns like Pichilemu.

"The tsunamis that came after the initial quake have literally leveled most of the coastal beach towns of Chile, they're just not there anymore," Mackinson said.

He said he has not seen looting in his area, but some people were anxious about getting food and supplies.

"There are runs for gasoline, these massive lines, massive waits to buy gasoline," Mackinson said. "I feel comfortable, I feel relatively safe in Santiago.

"I woke up, I guess it was Sunday morning about 8:30, I woke up to slight shaking, I guess you could compare it to thunder close to your house in a thunderstorm. And then the entire house would shake violently. And then as quickly as it comes, it goes," Mackinson said.

Mackinson works for an agribusiness company in Chile. He lives in a 15-story apartment building. But it's in a newer section of Santiago, so it sustained only minor damage.