Wes Davies of Frenchglen is currently serving an LDS mission in Concepcion, Chile. He offers a first-hand account of experiencing the 8.8 earthquake that struck last month.
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, 3:32 a.m. — I woke up to my bed shaking only to remember that I don’t have a bed, I sleep on the floor on a mattress. I quickly realized what was happening — an earthquake.
About when I realized what was happening my companion, Elder Huggans, rolled over on his bunk bed above me and reached out to hold up the dresser that sits perpendicular to my bed. The bottom drawers fell out anyway, but he held the top one in and kept the entire thing from falling over on top of his other luggage.
I pulled my blankets up on the left side of my head because by this time it was shaking so violently that I thought the house was going to tip over. To my left, our second-story house, made of wood, is supported by the neighbor’s house, who happen to be the owners as well. But on my right there is only the street to catch our fall. It was shaking so hard that I honestly was waiting for and braced to receive the blow of the wall on my left as the house fell over.
As I looked up at Elder Huggans, who also remained in his bed, we exchanged a few words. The only thing I can remember was him saying, “Yeah, this is strong … phone … where is the phone?”
“Next to me,” I responded.
“Call the zone,” he said. I then proceeded to call Elder Hatch in Avenida Alemania as Elder Huggans yelled to the other room for Elder Lettieri to call his district.
It was still shaking pretty hard when Elder Hatch answered the phone yelling, “WOW! This is CRAZY.”
“You OK?” I asked.
“Yeah, fine,” he responded.
“OK I’m gonna call Nacimiento.”
I hung up the phone and called Hermana Holt who answered almost immediately.
“You OK?” I asked.
“Scared,” she responded. I told her to stay with her companion and stay strong. I am not sure how the conversation ended but as I hung up I realized that it had stopped shaking.
Elder Lettieri had been able to call his district so we had a full report of the whole zone and within four minutes the phone lines collapsed. It wasn’t until then that we got out of our beds to see what exactly had happened.
Our wood house made so much noise when it shook that we hadn’t been able to hear the prison. We live about one block away from the city prison and the prisoners at some point during the earthquake began to scream bloody murder. They screamed from 3:30 a.m. until the sun came up at around 7:30 a.m.
The first damage we could see was that the electricity was cut and most of the lightbulbs from the streetlights had fallen out and so there was glass all over the streets. Almost immediately the police had the prison lit up with spotlights and the noise continued all morning. Prisoners lit their cells on fire so the guards would have to take them outside where they could try to escape. Many of the bars on the windows had fallen out during the quake so a lot of them were jumping out of the windows. The police were firing shots and yelling. It was a mess.
We however went back inside to try to get some sleep before the sun came up. Like that was going to happen. I counted 29 smaller earthquakes that shook the house hard before the sun came up.
It wasn’t until then that we realized what had happened. But luckily the only thing that happened to our house was that we had an excuse for the mess.