On Tuesday May 12th we were hit with a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. My team and I were conducting an interview in Kathmandu when the earthquake hit. There have been so many aftershocks that at first we didn’t think too much about it. But then it really hit hard. The whole building started shaking violently, we were on the ground floor and sprinted to the road. The earthquake went on for 12 very long seconds. The house was full of women working on handicrafts and everyone came out screaming. The building was already fractured and people were afraid it would collapse. None of us could understand how an aftershock could be so large, especially being 2 weeks since the original quake.
We gathered our equipment and moved on our motorbikes. Kathmandu was chaotic, since many had returned back to work entire business’s were shut down and everyone looking for cover on the street. Most people jumped on their motorbikes racing home to their families to make sure they were safe. Within 15 minutes a 5+ magnitude hit again. This time we all stopped our bikes, people began holding each other crying and screaming. Others took off running with the ever-present panic in their eyes.
The film team I was working with are from Bahktapur, one of the harder hit areas from the previous quake. We raced 30 km out of Kathmandu on motorbikes afraid it was completely gone. When we arrived we were relieved to see that only a few buildings that were almost destroyed had finally fallen down. But most of the city was intact. I came back to HQ where they had a good understanding of the situation. There were a lot of rumors on social media so our teams spread out to try to confirm what was true. I personally went to the main hospital called Teaching. Injuries were flowing in quickly. We then went to check on a few houses that collapsed in Kathmandu. Though destroyed no one was injured or killed.
This was a huge blow to the people of Nepal. Those suffering from PTSD have increased their symptoms immensely. It’s put everyone on edge. After todays quake we were hit with 38 aftershocks. By the time I was heading back home the streets were full of tents and tarps just like it was when I first arrived. Most people slept outside tonight of fear of another quake. During the night we were hit with two 5+ aftershocks that lead most people screaming from our hotel into the street. No one got much sleep last night. I know I didn’t!
We were all getting use to the aftershocks, but now we know they can be much larger (a 7.4 doesn’t seem fair to call an aftershock). It really messes with your head. You start planning your meetings on ground floors only, any traveling routes you start looking at potential land slides, we sleep in our clothes incase we have to run during the night and showers are short because of an ever increasing chance of a quake.
How are we moving forward:
As the ever-present monsoon season arrives it creates a very difficult situation for Nepal. The next 4 weeks will determine how many lives we can save, because if we don’t move quickly and provide adequate shelter, clean water and sanitation many will fall ill. Providing these necessary tools of survival will allow the Nepali to stay healthy and continue to plant new crops, which will provide food security and monetary funds coming for each family.
We started working with a great fabrication design that came out of the Pakistan earthquakes. A few local engineers from Kathmandu started building prototypes and they worked beautifully. All the materials are locally sourced and the structure can be made in 30 minutes and only costs $100. (A tent equally in size costs around $600). Plus after the monsoon the locals can recycle all material to be used on their homes. They made everything open source (take a look) so it can be replicated and thousands of these can be made.
We have a local village where the school was destroyed with many homes. We are putting several of the shelters to be used as school classrooms, with solar lights and rain water catch systems for the village. One concept we are working on is a new design for toilets. We will be testing the prototype at this school. In the next few days we plan on scaling our operations once again to provide shelters, clean water and sanitation.
What should be done?
The earthquake was devastating but if we don’t rally many more will fall ill. A good friend asked me what needs to be done right now, “I said, shelters, sanitation systems and clean water.” She asked if it was that simple and my answer was yes. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. We’ve seen this over and over again, students and engineers working up some crazy plan to help save Nepal. Right now we believe many solutions have already been made. And most of them can be replicated here locally. This is why we are being very public about what we see working and not working.
What can you do?
Many of you have already donated and we are beyond grateful for your contributions. We’d love for you to share with your friends and family so they can save lives also.
Here are our costs:
One classroom (for 30 students): $100
One temporary home (for 5-7 people): $100
Water sanitation for one family ($40)