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Chile: The Surfers and the Earthquake

14:51 18th March 2010 by Alex Dick-Read
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March 17, 2010, Pichilemu/Curanipe, Chile

Local Constitución surfer Pocha, standing on/in what’s left of his house. Photo: Philip Muller/Glass.cl

Save The Waves Coalition, operating though a passionate volunteer ground team led by professional surfers Ramon Navarro, Greg Long and Kohl Christensen, completed the first phase of its Chile relief efforts by distributing nearly 1,000 water filters along with other essential supplies to coastal Chile.

The water filters, provided by partner nonprofit Waves for Water, are now providing clean drinking water for up to 10,000 Chileans, many of whom live in remote coastal areas and were cut off from clean water in the wake of the 8.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on February 27, 2010.

Professional surfers Greg Long and Kohl Christensen training the firemen in Curepto, Region VII. Photo: Philip Muller/Glass.cl

Through national press recognition of the “surfers without surfboards who distribute water filters,” all of Chile is aware of our organizations’ relief efforts, and the heartfelt appreciation has been overwhelming. The recognition led to an invitation this week to the home of the US Ambassador to Chile, Paul Simons, to discuss Save The Waves’ relief operations in Chile in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

“The spontaneous relief efforts by the surfing and coastal communities have been amazing,” said Save The Waves executive director Dean LaTourrette. “I’m proud that we were all able to come together so quickly and accomplish as much as we have to help the Chilean people, and that Save The Waves was in a position to help coordinate this tremendous volunteer effort. There’s still a lot that needs to be done though, and the international surf community will need to continue to lead the way.”

Actor Paul Walker and STW’s Josh Berry help a Chilean family set up a water filter system. Photo: Angel Marin


While Greg Long and crew were operating out of Pichilemu to the north, Save The Waves environmental director Josh Berry has been based further south in the Curanipe region, working alongside actor Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious) and his REACT Worldwide team of doctors and medics, an organization that was founded by Walker. “The Save The Waves–REACT effort was an incredibly inspiring teamwork experience that combined Save The Waves’ years of field experience in Chile with REACT’s medical knowledge, fearlessness and energy for disaster relief,” said Berry. “Paul threw himself into the thick of the heaviest situations with passion and intelligence. The chemistry between the organizations was immediate and we’ll definitely be working together again.”

Chilean family in Licanten, Region VII, in front of what was their house. Their tap water comes out yellow with small bits and dust floating. Now they have filters that provide clean drinking water. Photo: Philip Muller/Glass.cl


The distribution of the water filters marks the completion of phase one of the relief efforts, which were primarily focused on getting clean drinking water to those who were cut off in coastal areas. Save The Waves’ phase-two work will begin shortly, focusing on helping coastal communities in Chile’s Regions VI and VII rebuild and restore economic activity, including potentially fishing, surf tourism, and other businesses.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Save The Waves Coalition:
· Online donations: http://www.savethewaves.org/
· Donations by check: Save The Waves Coalition
PO Box 183, Davenport, CA 95017, USA; +1-831-426-6169
· Mark “Chile Earthquake” in comments/memo fields
· Save The Waves Nonprofit Tax ID # 36-4515216
· Contact: Lindsey Davis, +1-831-426-6169, lindsey@savethewaves.org

Local support, Pichilemu (supplies & other donations):
· Local contact: Philip Muller, mullerphilip@gmail.com

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