Jul 22, 2011 1:12 PM by Craig Eliot
Chilean officials have declared a "catastrophe" in eight southern districts where heavy snowfall over four days left thousands of people isolated. Snow piled up over 9 feet in some areas.
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said the declaration will free up more resources to aid those who need help in the mountainous Auracania region.
Piñera described the polar front the worst the region has seen in 30 years, The Patagonia Times reported.
Sub-zero temperatures froze pipes, leaving most of Lonquimay, a town of just over 10,000 residents at 9,000 feet elevation, without water.
Fuel in some vehicles' gas tanks also froze, local media reported.
Around 16,000 people are isolated in the area according to authorities. Snow-covered roads prevented aid sent by regional authorities from reaching its destination. La Segunda reported 400 boxes were sent to Lonquimay but only 25 arrived.
"In four days we have had four months worth of snowfall," said Regional Governor Miguel Mellado in an interview with Canal 13. "We've got a very difficult situation here."
The communities declared as part of the disaster area are Lonquimay, Curralehue, Melipeuco, Curacautín, Pucón, Cunco, Vilcún and Villarrica.
Temps will warm into the 60's over the weekend which could lead to rapid snow melt and some problems with flooding!