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O.C. woman struggles to reach Chilean family

March 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A Laguna Beach resident is scouring the Web, struggling to reach dozens of relatives in earthquake stricken Chile.

Singing has become a coping mechanism for Laguna Beach resident Cecilia Elgueta, who has dozens of friends and family members five time zones away in some of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake in Chile.

"I feel pain in my heart, an intense pain right here. It's a lot of guilt of not being able to be there. When you are an immigrant and you live far away from your family, all the time you feel like you are with one foot here and one foot there, and so when this type of events occur, it's like, 'Why I'm not there to help everybody?" Cecilia said.

Cecilia moved to the U.S. from Chile 25 years ago. She attended college in Concepcion and grew up not far from there in a town where many relatives are struggling with the aftermath of this massive quake.

"I have an aunt, she's 70 years old, and she is battling cancer, and she's sleeping on the street because her home collapsed," she said.

Cecilia still hasn't heard from some of her loved ones back home, but many are using Facebook to post messages and videos from Chile including her son Ciro, who she finally reached yesterday for the first time.

"Oh, it was a sense of relief to hear his voice and his laughter," said Cecilia, who is an earthquake survivor herself.

She can still remember as a young girl, her house crumbling all around her in the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, the 9.5 Chilean quake of 1960.

That's why right now, Cecilia's real home is where her heart is.