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Quake in Nepal

April 25, 2015

I usually don’t use this space to talk about world events.

This particular world event– yesterday’s 7.8 earthquake in Nepal–however, is profoundly devastating and because I visited some of the areas most impacted, I’m feeling connected to the tragedies unfolding there.

I see that Facebook has a feature that allows people to reach out to those who might be affected. It also provides a way for those who are there to let people know they are safe. It’s called “Safety Check,” and seems like a good use of the platform. I’ve now used it to check in on Homnath, Pradip, and the folks at Himalayan Glacier Trekking. April and May are the peak climbing months, so HGT is in full swing and it’s likely all the guides are trekking.  So far, Homnath and the HGT operation are okay; I haven’t yet heard back from Pradip. Hari, Bill C’s friend from Peace Corps days and an extremely kind man who hosted us (myself, Leslie and Laura) for an afternoon following the trek, is not someone I am connected to on Facebook, so not sure how to find him (except Bill’s trying to reach him via email). But man, communication lines have to be pretty impaired; I”m not sure how immediate any of the info is, or how effective any of the efforts to reach people are. Sure things are chaotic.

The devastation I’m reading about is incredibly overwhelming. I’ve seen footage and photos of structures turned to complete rubble in Durbar Square, an area in Kathmandu we visited the day before we took off on our trek. Durbar Square is the huge plaza in front of the old Royal Palace and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I cannot fathom the task of sorting through the destruction in a country where the infrastructure is so unstable to begin with and the emergency response systems so challenged. Kathmandu is enormously dense.. very, very little open space. I just can’t imagine how they’re getting in there to remove fallen bricks, stones, wood & glass, where they’re sending people who are injured, what they’re doing as thunderstorms pound the area (so says the current weather report). Electricity’s down, water’s scarce, people have nowhere to go. I think a million people are packed in there.

Here is a shot of Thamal from the trip four years ago (almost to the day)… a particularly popular and densely packed area.. and nothing, I imagine, built to any sort of code:

P1080467

Here’s a shot taken from Hari’s rooftop, also four years ago, that shows a typical residential area:

P1090535

Okay… well… the best thing to do is send money. I’ve sent some to the American Himalayan Foundation, confident they’ll direct it where it is most needed, particularly to the Solu-Khumbu regions (near Everest). I don’t really know what else to do.  Hoping aid gets in and people get the help they need, asap.

Here are some pictures we took of Durbar Square (some of these are mine, some are Rick’s):

The bustle of the square, densely packed with old and new structures…

P1030744

Pigeons, cows, folks…P1030749

Art, historic buildings… P1030760

And some ladies sitting right outside the palace, hanging out. P1030768

Photos online today are showing mostly piles of rubble and assuming lots of buried people. It’s all just profoundly overwhelming and heartbreaking.

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