After The Shock In Nepal
When the dogs wake you up at night with frantic barking it might be time to put on your shoes and get ready to run. So far, dogs have been reliable indicators of aftershocks ranging from mild to let’s exit the building. Right now we are sleeping in tents in the field next to Search and Rescue dogs and they have been a reliable ‘canine early warning’ of coming aftershocks; truly ‘man’s best friend’.
The past few days our job in the American Red Cross IT/Telecoms ERU has been to support field units in the hardest hit areas of Nepal. Tom McNally, a New Zealand Red Cross team member and I just returned to Disaster Operations in Kathmandu after installing communications, internet and wifi to support a rapidly expanding International Red Cross Operation.
Delayed enroute by a landslide, Tom and I walked from the vehicle to the landslide blocking the road, gathering with the villagers to watch the slow but effective clearing of our path. In some areas whole villages crumbled and the community is still in shock. But in the rest of Nepal people are moving on with whatever they can do to help with the disaster relief efforts.
Tom and I drove through crumbled villages on the way to our field units and arrived on site at the same time as the Red Cross hospital and sanitation teams we are supporting.
It was an eerie scene as we worked well into the night; dozens of Red Cross working by headlight. Literally overnight a 60 bed hospital camp was well underway and the next day by afternoon they were accepting casualties and patients.
As the scene unfolded around us Tom and I worked to get our equipment up and running; satellite communications, wifi and internet based phone service which was desperately needed for the 60-100 Red Cross workers to communicate and coordinate with the outside world. A Norwegian Search and Rescue team gifted us some equipment as they departed so we even had a Red Cross laser printer and admin supplies – trivial in civilization but major luxury for these field teams.
The units we supported were smiling and appreciative of our efforts, but they are the superheroes in this story. We move on to the next site, providing communications, and move on again to the next site. They stay, living in indescribable hardship, giving help and hope to destroyed communities.