Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chile con Wreckage

Tonight I had a chance to read about the 8.8 quake that shook the daylight out of Chile Saturday morning. The report spoke of the rising death toll, (currently in the thousands), 1.5 million homes damaged or destroyed, and massive looting sprees igniting across the country.

The quake hit in Concepcion, a city which my brother spent a good deal of time in while serving a mission for the Lord. Through this one degree of separation, I began to feel the weight of what these people must be experiencing. Another thought that came strongly to my mind was the importance of emergency preparedness!

Chile is not a newcomer to seismic disasters. In fact, Chile was home to the largest earthquake ever recorded. The 1960 Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean Earthquake rated 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale. Its resulting tsunami's affects reached as far as southeast Australia! This formative quake changed the course of Chile's building codes, laws, and regulations. Their retrofitting standards are among the highest in the world! Thus, many of the building were able to roll with Saturday's quake for 3+ minutes straight.

Unlike Haiti, Chile also takes great care in mixing high grade cement- 3 parts sand, one part cement. The sand is washed first to remove impurities that could cause it to fracture and crack under pressure. Much of Haiti's cement was 5 parts impure sand to one part cement which is why it pancaked.

Disaster forced Chile to prepare themselves for the future which spared them from greater destruction. For decades modern prophets have pleaded with the membership of the church to gather and store a years supply of food and water in case disaster strikes. We are asked, at the very least to have a 3 day emergency backpack on hand, with enough water, food, clothes and supplies for 3 days.

After reading about Haiti and Chile's woes, the importance of being prepared is so clear to me now.

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