The recent earthquake in Nepal has left the poorly infrastructured and unprepared country in ruins. The heart of the quake occurred in the heavily populated capital, Kathmandu, and measured at around a 7.9-8.1 magnitude on the Richter scale. This is the deadliest natural disaster Nepal has seen in 80 years and resulted in over 8,400 casualties and 9,200 injuries. Multiple resulting aftershocks as high as 7.8 have worsened conditions, leaving thousands of displaced citizens afraid to seek shelter, aid, or rescue. With a death toll rising each day and hospitals running out of room for injured patients, the situation in Nepal has surpassed an emergency and is now dire.
This heartbreaking tragedy in the small Asian country has shaken the hearts of countries all over the world who are eager to help in any way possible. However, the quake has set in motion a domino effect of other natural disasters that have prevented sufficient aid from reaching remote or badly damaged regions. Nepal’s rocky terrain and weak infrastructure have citizens posing as sitting ducks with no food, water, or shelter. Subsequent mudslides have also blocked crucial roads that lead to rural areas surrounding the capital. Landslides and frequent storms have created more unimaginable destruction, most notably
the avalanche on Everest that killed 17 and injured 34. Hundreds of citizens have been, and could still remain, crushed underneath the ruins of historical monuments, homes and religious temples. Officials are still searching for over 200 missing individuals. This disaster has not
only affected Nepal, but killed over 100 people in the surrounding countries of India, China, Tibet and Bangladesh.
Chattahoochee alumnus Lowell Cook is currently living in Nepal, studying Buddhism in one of the many ancient temples that is a staple of the country. In the past several days, this Hooch alum has seen firsthand how the disaster has affected those around him. Countless people living in Kathmandu and its surrounding regions were ordered to evacuate their
homes, with many spending multiple nights in open public areas. Lowell and his neighbors have spent nights following the earthquake in a sleeping bag on a tennis court. Only after the dangers have passed did he and the others were able to return to their apartments.
Home displacement is one of the key problems being dealt with by Lowell and the Nepalese people, but other concerns are giving them no time to catch any breaks. Mr Wolfe, a Biology teacher here at Chattahoochee was, unbeknownst to many, a peace corps volunteer in Nepal for two years in a small village. His main concern right now is that “Monsoon season is approaching, and because a lot of people’s homes have been destroyed they aren’t going to have a place to sleep or live and will have to be in the mud. That also means disease can spread very rapidly due to the lack of bathrooms and sanitation. Disease is already a big issue during monsoon season in Nepal, so now that you have a lot of people in tent camps very close to each other, it’s going to spread a lot faster.”
Mr. Wolfe lived with several families during his time in Nepal and says he’s been “checking up on them” through facebook. “All people that I have the ability to communicate with are fine. Most people that lived in the village wouldn’t have access to electronic means of communicating, so from what I’ve heard through them and their contacts is that they all appear to be fine.” He is worried for other survivors, though, due to their inability to get quick support.
“Here,” he says, “We have the ability to get heavy support, withdraw savings quickly or find a place to stay if we lost our homes. They don’t have the means to help themselves; they don’t have a lot of savings and most are living day to day for ends meet.”
The ground also trembled with care here for Chattahoochee students, with many deciding to take action and support the thousands of displaced, broken and distressed citizens of Nepal. In response to the disaster, Chattahoochee’s Indian Cultural Exchange Club (ICE) and Green School are teaming up to raise money to send to Nepal. To help out, there is a booth set up across from the school store in the cafeteria where you can donate. The ICE club is accepting donations in the cafeteria until Wednesday the 13th, and any amount is welcomed. Sophomore Aditi Choudhury has been helping the ICE club in their efforts out of concern for her family living near the India/Nepal border. “My family was affected by the earthquake, so by helping ICE collect money I’m helping my family as well as countless others who need the support.” Her main goal is to be able to donate to the Nepali people “because they need it and don’t have the means to deal with earthquakes like these. They don’t have medical supplies or other basic needs so by collecting money we can help them recover more quickly.” The struggle Nepal is facing in light of this disaster is unimaginable but any support is better than none.
More than two weeks after the earthquake, headlines on the topic have slowly began to disappear from the national media. Yet, the concern for the people of Nepal is likely to linger in the Hooch community for as long as there is a somebody who is in need of help.