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Aftershocks unsettle quake-weary Peruvians

Church members anxious to begin rebuilding efforts

SHARE Aftershocks unsettle quake-weary Peruvians

Guisela Valdez de Jiminez says life is returning to normal a little more each day in quake-ravaged southern Peru.

"Things are progressing, they're getting a little better," said Sister Jiminez, a resident of Moquegua. That said, she admits she and her family still sleep near the front door just in case the earth moves yet again.

A large pre-dawn aftershock rocked the Andean nation July 7, two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake took the lives of dozens of Peruvians and left thousands homeless. The July 7 temblor was locally measured to be a magnitude 5.5, while the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., listed the quake at 7.2, according to the Associated Press.

No Church members or missionaries were injured in the July 7 quake — the third to hit the area in as many days. On July 6, a magnitude 5 temblor in the same zone caused several landslides and blocked part of the PanAmerican Highway.

"The [recent quakes] did cause some additional damage, but nothing significant," said Patrick Reese of Church Welfare Services.

While the fear of another major catastrophe is beginning to subside, members now face a long-term rebuilding period, Sister Jiminez said. Youth in many area congregations have been enlisted to demolish the walls of some of the more severely damaged member homes. A few members are looking for work after their small stores or street vending carts were reduced to rubble.

"There are more members staying at the chapel now than after the initial quake hit because their homes became hazardous after repeated quakes and needed to be demolished," Sister Jiminez said. Some homeless LDS families are also being fed each day at their respective chapels.

Plans to open the public schools in Moquegua were scrapped because pre-fabricated classrooms being sent to replace destroyed school houses have yet to arrive.

"The members seem to be in better spirits now and attendance at Church meetings has increased," said Sister Jiminez, adding international humanitarian aid is arriving to help rebuild the lives of many in southern Peru. Even those who had lost their homes and were sleeping in the streets now have at least a tent to shade them from the elements.

Peruvian President-elect Alejandro Toledo announced July 6 that he had secured $54 million in international aid to help quake victims, according to the Associated Press.

The Church has also contributed. Shortly after the 8.1 earthquake on June 23, local leaders were authorized to use available fast offerings to assist in their respective congregations. Additional funds were also provided to buy relief supplies for the needy.

A shipment of food boxes, hygiene kits and blankets was assembled at the Church's Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City and flown to Lima.