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Hope rewarded

Modified: Tuesday, Mar 9th, 2010

Photo/ Andrew Cummins: Torrington resident Don Dungan pages through a photo album from his trip to Chile Thursday morning just one day after learning his brother survived the country’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake.

The call finally came.

After five days of unanswered e-mails and phone calls, longtime Torrington resident Don Dungan learned his older brother, Jimmie, and his family survived the 8.8 earthquake that rocked Chile Saturday.

“I was so happy when I got that call (Wednesday morning). First thing I said is, ‘did they all survive’ and (my son Dan) said, ‘yep they all survived, they had a lot of damage but they survived,” Dungan said Thursday morning. That was all I cared about at that moment.”

Dan, who lives in Iowa, later forwarded his father an e-mail from Jimmy’s son, Patrick, who also lives in Chile.

“We are all alive, it was terrible and the apartment was trashed, the biggest scare of our lives. We honestly thought we were going to die,” the first sentence of the e-mail read.

“It was a big relief (Wednesday) when we got that e-mail, at least we knew they were OK,” Don said.

The retired Goshen County School District teacher said he first learned about the catastrophe Saturday morning while watching a television news program. A flurry of calls from concerned community members and family followed, but Don said he wasn’t able to contact Jimmie or Patrick.

“I kept trying to call, and it just kept saying the phone’s out of service due to the problems in Chile,” he said, adding the e-mail from Patrick is still the only communication he’s received out of the country since the disaster struck.

He said he and Dan also contacted the United States Department of State and perused Web sites in hopes of learning more about the situation.

Don and his brother grew up in Casper, and Don said Jimmie has called Chile home for about 45 years. Jimmie currently ranches in central Chile and first came to the country as a Peace Corps volunteer, Don said.

“He was in the first group in 1961 to go to Latin America” he said. That was right after President Kennedy created the Peace Corps.”

Although his brother and nephew live near Temuco, a city about 200 miles south of the earthquake’s epicenter, Don said the lack of information about their safety made the last week the most nerve-wracking one of his life.

For the complete article see the 03-05-2010 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-05-2010 paper.

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