Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tsunami Warning in Iquique

We had an exciting morning as our girls were evacuated from school and walked with their classmates to higher ground after a tsunami warning was issued for all of coastal Chile. Cell lines were jammed so I couldn't reach Pedro at his church office, but when he noticed the sudden increase in traffic and began seeing schoolchildren marching uphill he knew right where to go to meet our girls.

Their school is within walking distance from his office and he was able to get them quickly home. This proximity to church and home is one of the reasons we chose the school, as earthquakes and tsunamis are more a reality in Chile now than ever. (In fact, the very first item of business in Owen's kindergarten parent/teacher meeting this week was his school's emergency evacuation plan in the face of such events.)

What triggered the excitement today was/were three major aftershocks in central Chile, right during the inauguration of the country's new president. It certainly will be a memorable occasion in the minds of many visiting dignitaries!

In Santiago, my sister was teaching pre-school and my brother-in-law was teaching a seminary class. There were a few frightened students and Mark even had one student jump out of the first-floor classroom window when the second aftershock hit, but everyone was fine and it gave the school(s) a chance to practice their own evacuation plans. Parents were given the option to take their children home early, but my nephews chose to stay at school because as eight-year old Matias said, the open football field there is safer than any place at home. Interesting how even young minds learn to evaluate risks after living through a crisis such as they have!

Please continue to pray for Chile. Everyone is very much on edge, as today's events confirmed even to us so far north. Tomorrow our Iquique church sends a team down to affected areas in the south and your prayers for their protection, strength and wisdom as they distribute help and hope are greatly needed.

Thank you for lifting this nation and her people before the Lord.

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