Team Mobilizes for Chile Mission - NBC Southern California

Team Mobilizes for Chile Mission

Family, friends gather at a Melrose Avenue restaurant



    Team Mobilizes for Chile Mission
    A man holds up a Chilean flag in a flooded area Feb. 28 after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit the region.

    A 74-member urban search-and-rescue team will head from LA County to Chile.

    Authorities on Monday said the group includes doctors, rescue dogs, structural engineers and specialists of all kinds. They will take 55,000 pounds of food and equipment with them.

    County fire Inspector Matt Levesque said California Task Force 2 is waiting for transportation to be worked out but members will be ready to depart sometime Monday.

    Members of LA County's Chilean community -- estimated at about 20,000 strong, according to community leaders -- waited to hear from family and friends, two days after the magnitude-8.8 earthquake.

    "We have a lot of anguish," Jorge Rojas, 44, whose family is from Talca, told the LA Times. "You can't see your family. You can't even talk with them."

    Many gathered at Ricon Chileno, a Chilean restaurant off Melrose Ave., to hear the latest news of family members and friends caught in the quake zone and to console one another as the pictures of devastation flashed over news broadcasts.

    The magnitude 8.8 earthquake rocked Chile on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 3:34 a.m. 

    In Orange County, Natalia Martinez told the OC Register she was trying to locate her grandmother, who resides just south of the quake's epicenter. Phone lines were dead, so she turned to Facebook.

    "It's interesting. My father always said, 'Don't use Facebook.' Now he's trying to use Facebook through me," the 28-year-old told the Register.

    The mobile giving campaign is underway, allowing people to text message donations from their cell phones.