Idahoans impacted after earthquake in Chile

Idahoans impacted after earthquake in Chile


by Nishi Gupta
Idaho's NewsChannel 7


Posted on February 28, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 11:36 PM

BOISE -- Several Idahoans were in South America when the 8.8 quake hit.

The ones we know of were not injured.

Boise State University junior Andrew Ford is doing a semester abroad in South America and Tom and Dina Jewell of Boise were on vacation.

All three were looking for an experience, and they got one they likely will not forget. 

Andrew Ford from Eagle has experienced earthquakes before, but the one he felt in Santiago was different.

"It lasted so, so long,' Ford said. "Usually it'll be four or five seconds and you'll be like 'oh wow, you know that was kind of weird.' At first I was in the doorway for, I don't know exactly how long it was, but I've seen online it might have been up to a minute and a half long."

He quickly found friends in his building, made sure everyone was OK and went outside.

His saw that his neighborhood had only minor damage, but said just a mile away things were quite different.

"There's a chapel that's just completely destroyed," Ford said. "On one side there was an apartment and on the other side there was a hospital and both of the walls on those buildings fell in and crashed on top of the chapel."

He said that was the worst of what he saw and the city is quickly moving on.

"A lot of the minor damage has been swept up," he said. "They're evaluating what to do, so I guess even though there are aftershocks today it feels like it's almost back to normal."

It's not a normal vacation for Tom and Dina Jewell of Boise who were on a South American cruise when the quake hit.

The torrential weather on the seas immediately halted the captain's plans to stop at coastal cities.

The couple e-mailed family to tell them they arrived in the in the southern city of Punta Arenas-- more than 1,300 miles from Santiago and the epicenter of Concepcion.

In their message, they said all appeared normal in Punta Arenas and there were no signs of the tragedy that hit north of them. 

They were supposed to fly out of Santiago- their last stop on the cruise, but were told the docks are so damaged they might not be able to.

The couple's family told us they are now frantically trying to find a way home.

It’s likely the Jewells will get back the week after next. That’s an entire week later than they were scheduled to return.

And the earthquake did not deter Ford to leave South America.  He plans to go Argentina next.