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Local Chileans work to help homeland victims

February 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
With much of their country in ruins, many local Chileans have been gathering in Hollywood at a local Chilean restaurant to see how they can help their family and friends back in their homeland.Rincon Chileno Restaurant in Hollywood has become the main meeting spot for L.A.'s small Chilean community. Many are still trying to reach their loved ones back in Chile.

"I have family in Santiago. The problem is that I called about two days ago, but I can't call over there because the telephone is a big problem," said Pancho Cid, who has family in Chile.

Amanda Unzueta has family in Concepcion, the city that is closest to the epicenter of Saturday's powerful quake. She said the area where she grew up has been completely leveled.

"All the buildings and the city center is terrible because the situation is so bad," Unzueta said.

With phone lines down in many areas, people like Yosi Fischer have been desperately searching the Internet on sites like Facebook looking for any word from family members.

"Finally, I was able to connect to my BlackBerry via Facebook and e-mails, and they told me that relatives took my mom to their house," said Fischer. "She was very scared, but she is OK."

At the restaurant, local Chileans are beginning to organize help for the quake victims in their homeland.

"It's been really, really sad and it's been very like a nervous wreck for my wife and me looking and watching the news on TV," said Patricio Pazols, who has family in Chile.

Organizers say they hope to have a fundraiser at the restaurant next Sunday, but first they plan to meet with the Chilean consulate in L.A. to see about the best way for everyone to unite.