Eagle-Vail teen tells Chile quake tale | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail teen tells Chile quake tale

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyEagle-Vail resident Raleigh Addington, center, poses with new friends who served as his temporary host family in Santiago, Chile, after the earthquake

EAGLE-VAIL – Aftershocks are not so shocking anymore to Raleigh Addington from Eagle-Vail. For a while, they were a “daily routine.”

The 17-year-old flew to Chile for a study abroad program last month in hopes of experiencing “something different.” He certainly found himself in an unusual situation. A mere day after touching down, the 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the country while Addington was staying in a campground with fellow students outside Santiago.

“No one was injured but for some of us, including me, it was our first earthquake experience,” Addington wrote in an e-mail. “Things like these tend to open your eyes a little.”

Below, our local earthquake survivor recounts his shakeup in a series of e-mails with the Vail Daily.

1. Vail Daily: What did the earthquake feel like?

Raleigh Addington: I had never been in an earthquake before and even now it is hard to describe what exactly I felt. At 3 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 27 I was awakened by a strange creaking noise. I was sleeping in the bottom bunk with two more beds above me and two more bunks to my left with the same amount of beds, nine beds in all. When I looked up it was like the beds had been put on a swivel and were being moved around like a bulldozer. I could have sworn I was on a boat that was experiencing some serious waves, the whole thing felt like it was rocking back and forth, which was the creaking noise that had woke me up.

2. Vail Daily: How did you react to the earthquake?

R.A.: I have to admit, my reaction was a little different than those of my friends. When I woke up I honestly thought it was a joke. I told whoever was doing it to “stop messing around,” rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. I was unsuccessful, and soon after, an American Field Service volunteer came in and told us to get dressed and go into the field behind the cabins.

3. Vail Daily: You stayed with a family in Santiago right after the quake, and are currently living with a host family in San Fernando, Chile. Have you been experiencing aftershocks?

R.A.: Aftershocks were a daily routine up until about Saturday. All throughout the day of the earthquake it became “usual” for us to be sitting inside, it would feel like a bulldozer was shaking the building and then we would have to go outside. The building itself was deemed unsafe but one of the rooms on the edge of the-building was OK because it was easy to get out of. The largest aftershocks were right after the earthquake, on the day after as we were getting ready to leave, and during my first two nights in San Fernando, Chile, which were March 3 and March 4. Though my days and nights are pretty mixed up, I remember these nights because I had my own bedroom and couldn’t sleep in it. Both of these nights/mornings between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. the house shook violently.

4. Vail Daily: Which aftershock stands out the most?

R.A.: The fourth was probably the one that sticks out most in my mind. There I am eating a midnight snack with my brother at the dinner table and the house moves. It is only slight at first so we keep eating. But then it grows and gets worse. I met my host mother under the big archway door in the middle of the dining room. We stayed there for about 20 to 30 seconds until it passed. It turns out that that was a 5.7 somewhere in Chile and we just got the brunt of it. The funny thing was that the entire time my host father was sitting in bed watching TV saying we were the crazy ones and that it was no big deal. Actually, just this morning at around 4 a.m., when my brother and I were playing cards, the house did a quick one-two step. It was only slight but it was a reminder that nothing is ever totally over.

5. Vail Daily: How do you expect the earthquake to affect the rest of your trip?

R.A.: I expect that the rest of my trip will go by smoothly. Chileans are a strong people and they have already rallied together and through Chile Ayuda a Chile they are helping those who have suffered losses because of the quake. The entire country is feeling the empty space that the earthquake left behind, but they are also trying to fill that space for a brighter future.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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