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Presbyterians respond quickly to earthquake in Chile

PDA working with partners, waiting for assessment of damage

March 1, 2010

LOUISVILLE

The earthquake that struck Chile Feb. 27 has killed more than 700 people, but that toll — like much of the information about the effects of the disaster — is expected to change.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has committed $25,000 to its partners, Church World Service and the Lutheran World Federation. Those agencies are conducting a damage assessment in Chile and will report back in a few days, said PDA Coordinator Randy Ackley.

“We have no idea yet what the full scope of this disaster is,” he said.

The $25,000 comes from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s One Great Hour of Sharing offering, which is usually collected during Lent.

The PC(USA) is still waiting for word from its partners in Chile, said Maria Arroyo, area coordinator for South America and the Caribbean. The denomination has relationships with several Presbyterian churches and with the Evangelical Theological Community of Chile, a seminary.

There are no PC(USA) mission personnel stationed in Chile.

Although PDA is still waiting for details on the earthquake’s impact, there will likely be a huge difference between the effects seen in Chile and the effects of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, Ackley said. The scale of Chile’s earthquake was greater than that of Haiti’s, but Chile’s buildings were better prepared to withstand an earthquake.

Even though the earthquake in Chile might not bring the same impact as the one in Haiti, “this is not a small disaster,” Ackley said, adding that PDA will ramp up its response if the assessment shows more damage than was initially thought.

PDA is working on making a designated account for donations to Chile. Money can also be given to PDA’s general fund and the One Great Hour of Sharing, which divides its funds among PDA, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People.

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