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From there to here and back again

Local woman raising money to send home for disaster survivors

Collin Smith

Donation box locations:

• Elk Run Inn, 627 W. Victory Way

• Visiting Nurse Association, 745 Russell St.

Donation box locations:

• Elk Run Inn, 627 W. Victory Way

• Visiting Nurse Association, 745 Russell St.

— Maria Martin lives here, works here and is part of a family here. But she grew up in Peru, where an 8.0 earthquake crippled three coastal cities – Pisco, Ica and Chincha – on Aug. 15.

Martin, Comunidad Integrada program coordinator, is organizing a donation drive for the quake’s victims. She plans to have boxes setup at businesses around town, including gas stations, grocery stores and KMart. Currently, donations are accepted at Elk Run Inn and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in Craig.

The boxes are white and have pictures of the disaster on them, Martin said. They read, “In Peru, one (American) dollar pays for one meal.”

“Even though it’s not that much help, it helps a lot because an American dollar can buy a lot over there,” Martin said.

The Peru National Civil Defense Institute, which operates like the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Association in disasters, estimates the earthquake left more than 500 casualties and 34,000 homes destroyed, and more than 100,000 people are homeless.

The largest human disaster happened at the Church of San Clemente in Pisco, where Catholic worshippers celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when they believe Mary rose to heaven. During the quake, the roof collapsed on 200 people inside and killed more than 60.

Martin has been watching the news and reading Peruvian newspapers online for details.

“The main highway going from the (disaster) area to the main capital in Lima is destroyed, and people can only get help by helicopters,” she said. “People lived in the country around there, and don’t have any food or water and walk three to six miles to the city.”

Many survivors do not want to leave their cities and sleep in tents or on the street, Martin said. There has been a call for people to stay and rebuild, as well as the natural desire for people to stay close to the places they know.

Culturally, survivors cannot move on until all of their family is found or buried, Martin said, which keeps many survivors from seeking shelter in other cities.

“But even if they did want to get out, the bus tickets and the plane tickets have become too expensive to afford. People don’t usually use planes, but buses have gone from about 25 soles to 100 to 150 soles. This is because of the demand.”

Martin gave a presentation to the Craig Rotary Club Tuesday morning, asking its members to allow donation boxes at their businesses.

Randy Looper, who owns Elk Run Inn, had a box in his front office later that morning.

“I think it’s something that needs to be done,” Looper said. “It’s like any other disaster, like (Hurricane) Katrina or the tsunami. They need help and can’t do it all themselves so we need to do a little extra.”

Martin is coordinating with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lima. So far, the church has amassed three to five trucks with food and medicine.

“It’s not like here in the U.S. (where) you can get portable toilets and food right away,” Martin said. “The death toll is rising.”


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