How to help
* Visit www.gofundme.com/8dlekk or
* Write a check to “ChileCAD,” mail to 2707 Henri Court, Davis, CA 95618
Twisted metal and little else greeted residents of the Cerro Merced neighborhood following the fire in Valparaiso, Chile, that began on April 12 and has displaced at least 10,000 residents.
“It’s nothing now,” said Jorge Loyola, a landscape contractor in Davis and a Valparaiso native. “The neighborhood where I grew up: Everything is gone.”
Loyola and his wife Darlene, a longtime teacher at César Chávez Elementary School, have joined the Davis Chilean community in rallying support to help the victims of the Valparaiso fire.
The Chilean Student Association at UC Davis (ChileUCD) and the Chilean Cultural Association of Davis (ChileCAD) have teamed up and are accepting donations at www.gofundme.com/8dlekk or by check made out to “ChileCAD” to 2707 Henri Court, Davis, CA 95618, with all proceeds going to relief efforts in Valparaiso’s devastated Cerro Merced neighborhood.
In one of the worst catastrophes to have hit Valparaiso, a culturally important port city near Chile’s capital Santiago, a fire spread in the hills and completely burned more than 2,000 homes, killing 15 people.
The Loyolas’ daughter Daniela, who grew up in Davis and attended Chávez, lives in Valparaiso and was at work when the fire spread to her hillside home. Her husband had just the “time to get the dog and the computer” before the blaze destroyed their house, Jorge Loyola said.
The Chilean community is stepping up to raise money to be sent to the Neighbors Association of Cerro Merced, a low-income area ravaged by the fire.
“It just started spreading,” Darlene Loyola said. “This was the perfect storm for a fire” that reached 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s close to 3,000 homes that were completely burned down,” said Francisco Moran, president of ChileCAD, who was born in Santiago and moved to Davis in 1989. “We need to help.”
Moran worked with ChileUCD to coordinate the fundraising effort and the latter created the gofundme.com campaign.
“We felt that we have to do something,” said Valerie Weinborn, president of ChileUCD.
Weinborn added that ChileUCD is working with the International Agriculture and Development Program at UC Davis on a Valparaiso benefit to take place on May 17.
For residents of Cerro Merced, remaining away from their homes after the fire subsided was not a safe option. Many have returned in order to prevent squatters from claiming their property.
Not only was the fire devastating, but “on top of that, it’s really poor people” that were affected, Moran said. “They don’t have large families” to support them, they “don’t have anything.”
The Loyolas said they were fortunate enough to be able to help their daughter, but that other Cerro Merced residents were not so lucky.
“We’re not worried about us,” Daniela Loyola said. The fundraising is for the whole neighborhood and those who “haven’t got anybody to help.”