March 3, 2010

Chile Earthquake Relief

Photo: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

The image below is part of a shocking and heartbreaking slide show compiled by Reuters of the 8.9 quake that devastated Chile on March 1, 2010.

In light of this event, I ask you all to see this tragic event and read the email I got from my friend Liz Caskey, an American married to a Chilean who has made her home in Santiago, Chile, for more than a decade.  The email is reprinted in its entirety.

"I would like to request your collaboration and support in spreading the word about the reconstruction efforts in Chile after the recent earthquake. Creating community is vital to aid Chile in moving forward after such an enormous blow and starts with sharing accurate information with your readers and followers, not just the images on the news of death and destruction. This will positively help Chile, its people, businesses, economy to overcome this huge challenge.  

On Saturday morning at 3:34am local time, February 27th, 2010, one of the largest recorded earthquakes in modern history hit central Chile, 8.8 on the Richter Scale. It was felt from the coastal city of Viña del Mar/Valparaíso to the capital of Santiago (my home), and through all the wine valleys south. Particularly hard hit were the areas of the Maule with the city of Talca, Concepción, in addition to a huge tsunami which impacted the coast resulting in the death of hundreds of vacation-goers. 

Now 5 days from Saturday's devastating events, things in Santiago are thankfully normal, as in much of the country. Given Chile's long geography, the majority of the country is functioning perfectly normal with the exception of the affected areas within 100 miles of the Concepción area and the coastline hit by the tsunami. While the news images continue to show looting, please know that the military, Red Cross, and many volunteers have already arrived with food, water, and aid. Electricity and communications are being restored as we speak to these areas. This Friday, there is a huge drive, Teletón, raise millions of dollars to provide temporary housing for every family who lost their home. There is a sense of real solidarity here. The of light of hope has appeared for these people. The next huge step is reconstruction.

The wine industry here did suffer some serious losses of inventory and damage to facilities, mostly in the regions of the Maule, Curicó, and some areas of Colchagua. Others escaped completely unscraped. I will be posting on my blog later this week with a full update since many of you have asked. It is a complex situation since harvest is due to start any day and vintners trying to manage where they will make the 2010 vintage in some cases.

Here is how you can directly contribute to the rebuilding efforts in Chile. Beyond the Red Cross, which is for aiding relief efforts, our business, Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine  Experiences, suggest these three ways.

1. Travel to Chile

If you have traveled to Chile, have a trip scheduled here, or know people that do, please encourage friends, family, and colleagues to still come. Refer them to my blog, where I directly addressed this issue yesterday. The images the media is "exporting" and messages the US State Department issuing are harmful for the country in the long term and can impact its tourism. The information they are providing is simply not accurate since many people do not understand the country's geography and where the quake is contained. They stick all of Chile in the disaster boat and this is completely false. Chile is operative and normal in ALL areas minus the above-mentioned affective area. We have had clients on wine tours this week and heading to points in Patagonia with zero problems or alterations. Don't let TV paranoia ruin what makes Chile so wonderful. Help spread the word.

2. Support Local Business & Eat Wine Santiago Guides

  We have started a direct initiative to support a local non-profit foundation with a school and organic farm we visit with our tours to channel funds to families affected by the quake both locally and in the south. We are donating a significant portion of the proceeds from our Eat Wine Santiago guide, a food & drink e-guide to the capital. Please help our efforts by purchasing this e-guide. Ask your family and friends to help too. Even if you/they don't plan on coming to Santiago, Eat Wine Santiago includes a great wine list, insight into Chile's food/wine culture, will directly contribute to reconstruction efforts in Chile, and seriously, costs less than a dinner for one or a bottle of decent wine. We also will be offering free updates for the first two editions for friends, family, and colleagues who may have Chile on the horizon in the future. Click here for more information.

3. Buy Chilean

Now more than ever, please buy Chilean. Organize a "Support Chile" dinner party or wine tasting. Accompany with classic dishes like Cazuela, Savory Chicken stew, ceviche, or Ensalada Chilena,  Chilean tomato salad. You can find recipes on my blog. Serve Chilean wines from Sauvignon Blanc to Carmenere which you can find throughout the US/Canada easily. Incorporate Chilean ingredients like fresh fruit (blueberries, peaches, and grapes at this time of year). At Wholefoods and gourmet grocers you can find Olave olive oil and the piquant smoked chili spice, Merkén. 

The Chilean people amaze me with their generosity, resilience, and attitude in response to this disaster. They want to prosper, work, and put back the pieces together. If there's one thing we have learned in life, with the right attitude, we as human beings are capable of confronting any situation and doing anything we put our mind to. As they say here, Chile se la puede. Chile can do it. We are doing it. Chile will step forward. I hope you will seriously consider supporting us the reconstruction directly here in Chile.

Please feel free to e-mail me directly at with any questions you may have. Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you from all of us!"

And from me, a link to the Chilean Red Cross.  Thanks to all of you for your support!

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5 Responses to “Chile Earthquake Relief”

  1. One of our blogging friends Gloria lives in Concepción an area affected by the earthqyake. All of the things Liz has suggested are excellent ones.

  2. Thanks for sharing Liz’s email. There are many ways to help, and it’s important not to let the media tell the whole story of what is happening. It seems they are determined to tell us about looting and crime, at the expense of the stories about strength, rebuilding, and optimism.

  3. Thanks for reprinting this email. I will share it on facebook and twitter.

  4. Thanks for sharing this email with us. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile.

  5. muy buena información.
    te nomine para un premio:

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