When an 8.8 earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010, local LDS Church officials knew exactly what to do. Because of the already-established Church welfare organization in Chile, people were able to receive relief quickly and efficiently.
Local leaders knew where to locate food and what kind of transportation to use. With this knowledge, supplies were distributed to those in need almost immediately after the earthquake struck.
LDS Church members in Chile volunteered their time and energy to aid in the relief effort. Some took days—even weeks—off work to help those in the hardest hit areas of the disaster. Young men, young women, and missionaries have dedicated long hours helping with the relief effort. Community members from many different faiths are grateful for the shelter, clothing, hygiene kits, water, and other provisions that they have received through the generous service and donations of LDS members.
The donations didn’t come only from the LDS storehouse in Chile and U.S. shipments from the Church; they also came from Chilean members. Carlos H. Amado, Area President for the Church in Chile, remarked, “I was touched in my heart that many members of the Church have a year’s supply, but instead of being selfish and keeping it for themselves, they went out and shared what they had with their neighbors.”
While the death toll in Chile was relatively low, other statistics are sobering. Hundreds of people lost their jobs, and unknown hundreds of businesses were destroyed, vandalized, or lost revenue because of the direct and indirect effects of the disaster. Recovery will take several years.
Thanks to the Church’s long-established humanitarian organization, leaders in Chile have every reason to believe that full recovery will be possible. The Church worked to meet the emotional and temporal needs of people who lost their houses. Juan Carlos Barros, area welfare manager for Chile at the time of the earthquake, was ready for the challenge of meeting various needs. Shortly after the disaster, Barros created plans to help the people, and he moved quickly. “We are putting together a Chilean group of LDS psychologists,” Barros said. “We will survey emotional needs, provide guidance to Church leaders, and provide printed materials. We will also determine the level of need each victim has. The same pair of shoes doesn’t fit everybody. ... We will provide what is needed for people to help themselves.”