Surviving an Earthquake in Chile

2015-10-07 16:23

On September 16, an 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chile, killing at least 12, evacuating over a million people, destroying more than 400 homes and triggering a 16-foot tsunami off the coastline.

World Cup, Europa Cup, National Training Group and D Team athletes were training in Chile during the quake—split up between La Parva, Portillo and Valle Nevado—and all were affected by the disaster. Four of them described their experience.

The quake was wild. I was sitting next to Mia [Ted Ligety’s wife] at dinner and she turned to me and told me to stop shaking the table. I said I wasn’t, and then we realized it was a quake. It kept building and building. It lasted for over a minute. Some people got up and ran outside. Most of us stayed inside and were talking about it as it was happening. I realized avalanches may be coming off the peak, so I ran out on the deck to see that. There was a pretty big one right in view, and apparently a couple of others on the other side of the hotel.

The aftershocks were wild. There were a lot of them. Around 1-1:30 a.m. another big one hit and woke everyone up. It was pretty violent. Everyone was talking about it this morning. We were all okay. I hear mountains dampen the quakes, but to feel what we felt was wild.

We don't get earthquakes in Vermont, so the quakes here in La Parva were pretty crazy! I didn't even realize what was happening until Addison [Dvoracek] said something. We all looked at each other then went outside. The dogs were going crazy. Five minutes later, one of the staff members for the condos said it was OK to go back inside. I walked up to the coaches’ condo on the fifth floor and everything was still shaking.

The aftershocks were pretty crazy. We were standing outside and you could see the windows moving. The Chileans thought we were crazy standing out in the cold, but all of the sudden there was another pretty big one. There were a bunch of little Chilean kids who came running outside and wanted to know if we were famous.

The aftershocks in the middle of the night were pretty good too. I had a hard time sleeping through them.

We were sitting at dinner and all the sudden the table started to shake. We were pretty confused and then started to get out of our seats. Walls started to crack and plates were falling and breaking on the floor. It was pretty hectic. During the night it was hard to sleep with all the aftershocks. 

I was in bed at 7:45ish, about to fall asleep, when I felt my bed start to shake. My first thought was that my roommate, Paula [Moltzan], was moving my bed, and then I remembered that I was the only one in the room. The shaking started to get stronger, and the building cracked a couple times and I finally realized that it was an earthquake. I jumped out of bed, threw on sweats, and ran into the hall. I was on the ninth floor of the hotel, so I stated to panic a little when the shocks continued to get stronger. One of the girls in the room next to me opened her door in a towel, with conditioner still in her hair, I told her to get dressed and we ran down to the lobby. By the time we got down the stairs the first shock was over, but we had to leave the hotel and wait in the parking lot for five minutes or so. 

Once they told us we could go back inside, I went back to my room and got back in bed—that’s when the second shock hit. We ran down the stairs again. After about 20 minutes they told us to go to our rooms and get warm clothes; if another shock hit we would have to head down the road to the safety zone. “It could be a long night,” they said. Around 9:30 we went back up to our rooms and went to bed. Another shock hit around 1 in the morning, but we were told it was okay to stay in our rooms. Over the next couple days we felt small shocks, but nothing like the first couple.

It was crazy, kind of exciting, but pretty scary at the same time.