I originally had a different post scheduled for today, but I didn’t feel right posting about anything other than the Nepal earthquake that happened over the weekend.
I lived in Nepal for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, 15 years ago. To be completely honest, it was a very emotionally challenging experience for me. I would like to think I helped anyone during my time there. The experience completely changed me and the way I see the world.
Now to see the country I came to know experiencing such devastation is very hard. The capital, Kathmandu, has been the media’s focus so far but I’m still waiting to hear about the outlying villages where undoubtedly the roads are covered by landslides and communications are severed.
A Nepali friend of mine is living in the US now and was able to talk to her dad, who is okay. He said people are living in tents in the field next to his house, because their houses are either destroyed or unstable and not safe to stay in, especially as aftershocks continue.
The loss of lives and people’s homes is horrible and tragic, and my thoughts are with the families there. The loss of history and culture is also felt from the destruction of historic buildings and temples in the region. Durbar Square, in the photo above, doesn’t look like that anymore.
In many ways an earthquake such as the recent one was inevitable, due to the geological faults and plate subduction in the area (which creates the Himalayan mountain range). While I was there we volunteers attended a safety conference where a geologist explained the earthquake risk in the area. Not only is it very seismically active (I experienced several small earthquakes while I was there), but the city of Kathmandu is built on sediments that would act as a liquid when hit with seismic shocks. With all of this in mind, I’m surprised the destruction in the city wasn’t more complete.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of a disaster such as this. If you want to help, please find a reputable charity or NGO to donate to. And we should also see this as a reminder to keep our own disaster preparedness kits updated. Make sure you have a store of food and water, flashlights and batteries, candles and matches, first aid and safety kits, and all your important documents ready to go in case you need to evacuate.
How has the Nepal earthquake story affected you? Have you been in a similar situation before?