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The Earthquake

NEPAL | Thursday, 30 April 2015 | Views [329] | Comments [1]

I am writing this on Wednesday, April 29th. On Saturday the 25th, the biggest earthquake to hit the area in 80 years, measuring 7.8, struck Kathmandu and surrounding areas. We were some of the lucky ones- Here in Solukhumbu district, we had minimal damage. At Everest base camp I believe 17 people died in an avalanche that was a result of the quake, and a couple other deaths ocurred in Solukhumbu besides these.

 

The day started off unusually- with chocolate pancakes. It was Lacey's birthday, and we were celebrating with an American breakfast. Breakfast doesn't happen here in Nepal, instead it's two meals a day, one around 10:30 in the morning, and the other around 7:30pm, before going to bed.

It was great, they were delicious.

 

Lacey and I decided to watch a movie to pass some of the rainy day away. At around 12:00pm, the wall we were leaning against began to shake. Honestly, it took us a minute to react- it felt like the boys running up the stairs to the room above ours. The realization came over us of what was happening and we jumped off the bed and ran for the door to get out of the building as fast as we could.

 

When we got outside, all of us waited for the tremor to pass as we stared up at the building from the courtyard. It lasted about a minute, maybe two, and slowly things calmed again.

 

The hostel sustained some damage in the girls' rooms to the outer plaster of the stone building. But it appeared that we had escaped serious structural damage. So we slowly trickled back inside to continue our days. We didn't really know what else to do.

 

Throughout the day, we continued to feel aftershocks. We would run outside in a tizzy and wait for the tremor to subside. Then we would slowly creep back inside, laughing at the state that we left the room in in the hurry to get outside.

 

I luckily had phone service and was able to call Scott in Hawaii. He follows the weather and USGS maps of earthquake activity pretty religiously and I knew he'd be able to find information on the quake for me fast. So it was him that told me that a 7.5 to 7.9 (the reports were still shaky at that point) had struck 50 miles NW of Kathmandu- I am about 78 miles east of Kathmandu and therefore missed the worst of the quake. That's when I began to realize the extent of the quake that we had just felt and that so many thousands of people were being effected so terribly...

 

That night everyone slept in the newest building at the hostel that is still under construction. It's built with earthbags, which are supposed to stand up to earthquake damage much better, and indeed the new building had no visible damage. The news was telling us that strong aftershocks were possible throughout the night so we prepared as best we could and settled in. We spent the next night sleeping in this building too. No tremors came in the night, at least none big enough to wake us all. On Sunday, the building again shook pretty violently as a 6.5 aftershock hit in the afternoon, the epicenter much closer to us this time. But it seemed not to have caused further damage. Since then, we haven't felt any other tremors here in Salleri.

 

Like I said, we were some of the lucky ones. Yes, I was very close to this mass destruction, but really I felt very far away. I was definitely afraid of after shocks, with worse-case scenarios running through my head. But life seems to be returning to normal here in Salleri...

 

Many of the girls living at the hostel have been unable to get in touch with their families since the earthquake. On the other hand, I was able to speak with much of my friends and family immediately following the earth quake, and to assure them that I was safe before the inevitable gruesome news hit in the States. And yet, many of these girls were unable to contact family members 20 or 50 miles away. What this points to is some of the true costs of poverty. I am able to afford the international calling plan that allows me the privilege of speaking with my family in a time of crisis- a privilege many of these girls were denied. It's also already recognized that natural disasters tend to have higher death tolls and levels of destruction in developing countries than in developed ones, due to poorer infrastructure, marginally- located communities, slower relief response, and many other factors. In other words, natural disasters do not effect all equally. This is one major cost of poverty that is not immediately seen.

 

...Recovery will come to Nepal. I've never known such calm resolve in reaction to disaster as I have seen here. The Nepalis I have met are incredibly resilient, level-headed people. But I think what this disaster brings up for me is the urgency of addressing development issues. There's not really time to wait for economic growth to slowly make it's way through the world. We've got to work now, tirelessly, to prevent the unnecessary suffering of our fellow human beings.

Tags: development, natural disaster, nepal earthquake, nepal earthquake 2015

Comments

1

If you want to donate to people effected in Nepal, here are two organizations that I am working with and that use funds raised directly for projects on the ground. No waiting for government to distribute funds, no bureaucracy: http://www.edgeofseven.org/give/donate/ AND http://thesmallworld.org

  carlyschmarly Apr 30, 2015 5:41 PM

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