“How’s Little Flower?” my neighbors asked upon our return today from the vet’s.
“Getting better!” I said cheerfully. “The vet said maybe one or two more days of treatment.”
The news today for my little dog was positive, but the reports from our earthquake zones not quite so uplifting.
Sunday’s strong aftershock caused great strain on already damaged dams and newly formed swelling lakes (created by landslides) which threaten to break. The army hiked miles into the mountain areas to dynamite and relieve the possible flooding situation but were only hampered by more rain that came last night. 80,000 are being evacuated today with hope that all can be out of dangerous areas by midnight tonight. It’s a mind-boggling figure, to move so many. Packing up their tents, their few things left, their bedding . . . . And move to where?
I received a phone call today from Amity Foundation’s Liu Ruhong, who is the director of the education division, concerning some updates about next year’s Amity teachers as well as the current relief efforts. Last Saturday, Amity staff escorted a number of psychologists from Nanjing University to tend to the emotional needs of the survivors. When I asked Liu Ruhong how they were doing, she gave me an update.
“Oh, so terrible!” she said. “You know, they bring their own tent to stay in but because of the heavy rains, the ground is so wet. Water everywhere. Luckily, one of the relief teams gave them an inflatable tent floor to keep them off the muddy ground but all one night, they couldn’t sleep.”
Liu Ruhong mentioned that the need for tents is still quite serious. There are some remote villages with survivors who only had received food supplies but nothing else. They have no decent shelters. Everything was already destroyed by the quake and there is nothing to make tents out of but what they can salvage from the debris.
These kind of people Amity relief teams are scurrying to reach. It is a daunting task, especially as Amity’s disaster relief division has only a handful of people, as do most of the divisions in Amity. The Amity Foundation is a small organization with very big outreach programs. The staff workload is tremendous yet they have a commitment to helping others in their country and thus they struggle onward with fortitude and strength.
Those of you trying to log onto the website may find that you are not even able to get on. This is due to the astronomical amount of emails and hits their site has received since this started.
Liu Ruhong told me that today, she was finally able to reply to 35 emails but there were many more backed up (some for days) which she has not yet been able to access. Overseas’ sending agencies are contacting her, wanting to know how they can help and what the current situation is. Although Liu Ruhong’s division is the education division, many overseas’ organizations are in contact directly with her because they have foreign teachers in the Amity program. Her excellent English skills of course allow her to better answer their questions. So now her job has doubled. Not only is she overseeing all the educational programs of Amity (overseas’ projects and domestic ones as well), but she is now the person to contact for the outside agencies to better understand the earthquake situation.
In the city, I find that, while the tents are noticeably disappearing, there are still people who are living outside. Sunday’s strong quake and another today (5.7) may very well see people continuing their camping living style for quite some time. Even in my apartment complex, the tents remain. Our little public park next to my compound is also still crowded with shelters, mostly kept by those who live in the apartment highrise next to us. Those residents are still fearful to return home.
My taxi driver today provided even more information about the wariness people feel. When I commented on how heavy the traffic was, he contradicted me.
“Not so much now,” he said. “After the earthquake, many people with cars left the city. They aren’t coming back for 2 or 3 months.”
Outside, going on 8 p.m., the air is heavy, thick and sticky. Storm clouds have sifted in throughout the day and are now gathered above our heads. They seem to be laughing at us, teasing us to guess their intentions to either move on or let loose with a torrent.
My grandma always fondly called rain, “God’s water.” But with so much riding on more rain coming, with disastrous consequences if downpours occur, I wonder if the Sichuanese, or any of us here, for that matter, would be so pleased to agree with her.
From Chengdu, wishing you all a “Ping An” (Peace)
REMINDER FOR AID IN BUYING TENTS, VACCINES, AND OTHER SUPPLIES
United Methodists: UMCOR Advance #982450, International Disaster Response, China Earthquake