I just got off the phone with my dad and learned some totally crazy news — my aunt Kathy was only 55 miles north of the epicenter of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that hit Chile this past weekend. The house where she was staying was destroyed in the quake, but she and her friends were OK because they were out on the beach when it struck.

My dad didn't have a ton of details but did say that they had seen some strong tidal surges and have since moved to Santiago where they are giving whatever aid they can.

My aunt was in Chile working on the Southern Cross Peregrine Project which aims to track the migration routes of female tundra peregrine falcons from Chile to the arctic and back to Chile. The project is being run by the Falcon Research Group, a very cool and small nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving raptors.

Here's where they were when the quake struck.

My aunt Kathy has always been my cool outdoorsy aunt. She spent time as a river rafting guide and park ranger and is always excited to throw on her tele skis for a day up at Wildcat or Sunday River. I'm really glad she and her friends are OK and am proud that she has leaped into action helping other people.

If you're fond of raptors and would like to support the work of the Falcon Research Group (they lost a lot of expensive equipment in the earthquake), you can become a supporting member for just $25/year.

Click here to donate to the American Red Cross's Chile Relief and Development fund.

Read more about the Chile earthquakes here on MNN:

Chile's earthquake may have shortened Earth's days

Chileans protect, feed themselves after quake

Quake, tsunamis kill more than 700 in Chile

Huge quake hit Chile; tsunami threatens Pacific

Quake threatens Chile's fish, wine industries

Chile minister says nave made mistake in tsunami

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Shea Gunther is a podcaster, writer, and entrepreneur living in Portland, Maine. He hosts the popular podcast "Marijuana Today Daily" and was a founder of Renewable Choice Energy, the country's leading provider of wind credits and Green Options. He plays a lot of ultimate frisbee and loves bad jokes.

Chilean earthquake hits close to home
My aunt Kathy was less than 60 miles from the epicenter of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile. She made it out unharmed, the house she was staying in didn't.