Peruvian earthquake close to home for some

Catherine Thomas

Iowa State’s Peruvian community reacted with horror to the disaster still being unearthed in the South American country.

Last Wednesday’s massive earthquake devastated coastal regions of Peru, leaving more than 500 dead and thousands more injured and homeless.

The earthquake forced people to flee the city of Piscos, the quake’s epicenter, in search of safety. Power and telephone lines were lost, leaving Peruvians in the United States scrambling to find out about the plight of loved ones.

Diana Rodriguez, senior in management information systems and textiles and clothing reacted with great sadness to footage of the disaster.

“People are living in the streets. They don’t have shelter, and I am worried because it is winter, and it is very cold. It [Piscos] is a beautiful city; now it’s in ruin,” she said.

Gustavo Gutierrez, graduate student in animal science, was equally horrified.

“People have lost everything including their homes and loved ones, and they are powerless,” he said. “My family is OK, but they are afraid and deeply saddened.”

Erika Garces, sophomore in graphic design, grew up in Peru and could not remember a quake like this one. She was in Peru the day before the earthquake. She said she couldn’t believe what happened.

“When I heard about it, I was in a panic, and I cried ‘Mom, Dad!'” said Ursula Deza, graduate student in civil, construction and environmental engineering.

Deza contacted her sister in Lima, who told her people were out on the street and afraid to go in because the houses were shaking and glass windows were falling down on the street.

At the present time, there are 12 Peruvians enrolled at Iowa State. Most come from Lima and reported that their families have not been directly affected. Still, the impact of the quake has taken a heavy toll on them. On Sunday, the Latino community held a mass for the victims.

The Peruvian student body at Iowa State is planning to raise funds for victims and their families.

“We need money to help build houses,” Deza said.