April 25, 2005 - 6:51pm - Meulaboh, Sumatra - Report Submitted by Joe Hurston
Little delays add up; first the chopper landed on Simeulue Island about 35 minutes late. Then the loading took an extra 25 minutes. We flew from Simeulue to Meulaboh as fast that old chopper could go, but we landed 5 minutes after our connecting Twin Otter aircraft took off for Medan. Stuck in Meulaboh. Oh, well, that's not so bad. Came straight to the World Food Program (WFP) Office and asked for a place to lay my tired head. Gregory, the Program Manager graciously offered me a place to stay. The office also has a great internet connection.
On Friday, as our chopper approached Simeulue, the beauty of the island took my breath away with the coves and small islands and dense forest and breath-taking beaches. Yet, there has been so much suffering. The 8.7 quake did devastating damage. Over 80% of the structures either came down, or will have to be torn down. I went to a beach and viewed coral that would normally be 3-5 feet UNDER the water. It was actually ABOVE the surface! The earthquake up-heaval actually elevated the coastal area. That is why a ship recently struck the rocks while approaching Nias. The coastline has changed dramatically making sea-faring navigation difficult and dangerous.
The water situation on Simeulue is terrible. The local water lines have been severely damaged and will take a long time to repair. The wells have been damaged. The quakes have contaminated many of the wells. That was the situation I walked into upon arrival. The well for the WFP is right next to a bathroom. This is what the Vortex Voyager TM is designed for. I only had a single unit with me. Normally, it is preferable to deploy two Vortex Voyagers TM in such a case. We had donated all but one. The Vortex Voyager TM did great! I was able to train an Indonesian team on the operation and maintenance of the unit. They can now produce very clean water from very dirty water! Praise God!!
After pumping very clean water all day, I settled in to go over some photos taken by Cherie. I was really enjoying re-living our recent experiences. Suddenly I heard a terrible creaking noise and the earth began to move rapidly from side to side. The creaking noise was the house right next to our tent that no one walked into, as it was so severely damaged in the last quake. I stepped back in case the whole house came down. As quickly as the shaking began, it stopped. Another quake. Another experience. I knew that I would be leaving in a couple of days, but this is these peoples country. Their land, their home. My heart goes out to them. The Indonesian people are incredibly kind and brave.
Many have fled the coastal areas for the mountains. I was able to join an assessment team and go into, first the coastal region and see the abandoned houses. Then up into the mountains to see the fishermen and coastal dwellers in make-shift huts made out of sticks and bamboo trying to just live hour by hour. Yet, as we walked through these newly formed refugee villages, we were always greeted with a smile and kindness. Amazing people!! Yet, they wait for the next quake. And they come. Please remember these precious people in your prayer!
As I write this report, I hear the flight coordinators trying desperately to get all the people that need to get to Medan on airplanes. The problem is the runway has been severely damaged and only certain aircraft can make it into Meulaboh. Too many people, too few planes. My scheduling is in the Lord's hands! But I sure want to get home. I have no more Vortex Voyagers TM to deliver. My next goal is to get to Medan. Then, schedule the flight to Singapore, then L.A. etc. etc.. Eventually, I'll be home to Cindy and my kids! I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for your PRAYER! Also, thanks to the Cartridge Source Staff that serve so faithfully! I sure miss all of you. Hope to be home soon. Thanks for sticking with me on my wordy blogs. God Bless!!