On 16 September 2015, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of central Chile, triggering tsunami warnings and coastal evacuations. Lasting three minutes, this powerful earthquake created extensive damage in North-central Chile, and was felt in most of the country and beyond.
Illapel, a landlocked town 177 miles north of Santiago, was greatly impacted by the earthquake due to its location as the town that was the closest to the epicenter. Coquimbo, a port 285 miles north of Santiago, is said to have been one of the areas that was most affected by the tsunami (which was a result of the earthquake). Fishing vessels and shipping containers were moved to the city’s downtown area and many houses and businesses also suffered damage.
Here in Valparaíso, 75 miles northwest of Santiago, the earthquake was also strongly felt. There were reports of at least three aftershocks above magnitude-6 on the Richter scale and other strong tremors that occurred while tsunami alarms sounded in the port. Although our staff, students, and volunteers are safe, we find ourselves being affected by the damage caused by tsunami waves to the beach where we surf every week, La Boca in Concón.
During the early morning after the earthquake, waves rose, crashing into and destroying various local restaurants and businesses, including surf schools - one of which belongs to a member of our board of directors who often supplies us with equipment.
As ambassadors of caring for our beaches and enjoying their waters, the Valpo Surf Project (VSP) has talked with some of those affected to determine how we can help. This weekend we have a beach clean scheduled with our students to extend a hand of support during a trying time. We see this disaster as a way to teach our students about the respect that should exist for Mother Nature, as well as the importance of teamwork when disaster strikes.
If you want to help with the disaster relief efforts to areas such as Concón, please send an e-mail to Claudio Vilches, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.