Update From Padang, West Sumatra

Chiswick aid worker Becky Maynard 'focus will lie on getting aid to survivors of the disaster'

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Chiswick aid worker Becky Maynard is currently in Indonesia to delivering aid following the earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra.

Working, and volunteering, for ShelterBox– a disaster relief charity that specialises in providing emergency shelter, water purification and other essential survival items after disaster, Becky has sent ChiswickW4.com an update from the front line:

Tuesday 6th October 2009

The UN is now reporting that search and rescue for survivors of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of West Sumatra on 30th September has been called off; villages completely covered by mudslides will remain as mass graves; while the focus will lie with getting aid to survivors of the disaster.

ShelterBox has been in the area since Saturday carrying out assessments of the affected areas and starting to distribute urgently needed aid.

The areas immediately around Padang do not look to be as devastated as the centre of the city, however as you reach the more remote areas where there is less money to invest in strong building infrastructure the destruction is enormous.

A four-strong ShelterBox Response team has been in an area about 85 km north of Padang and in the majority of villages most if not all of the homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond safe habitation leaving tens of thousands homeless.

Although fatalities in these areas were lower than in the city aid is very slow to reach them as access roads are in poor condition and bridges have been destroyed.

ShelterBox provided enough aid for almost 500 people yesterday and enough for a further 6000 people is due to arrive in the forthcoming days. One of the key problems the displaced face is the weather. It is the start of the rainy season in Sumatra and when the rains come they are powerful and tarpaulins will have little chance of standing up to their onslaught.

The team have been checking the condition of the tents that have gone up to ensure they have been correctly erected and will be capable of withstanding the conditions likely to hit them in the near future.

Case Study

In the Sungai Limau area tents have been distributed with the assistance of village chiefs to identify those in most need. Ali Munkar is struggling to protect the three families, including his own, who have turned to him for support.

12 people in all had nothing but a small wooden shed with just enough room for one bed to support them all. The risk they face when the weather comes in is enormous – either remain exposed to the elements or take shelter in a highly unstable building.

Aftershocks are a big risk but rain and high winds could equally push the mostly destroyed building to collapse in its entirety.

ShelterBox has provided a tent to the families allowing them, along with their existing wooden structure, to live in safety until they can begin the process of clearing the debris and rebuilding their homes and their lives.

October 7, 2009