Nepal Earthquake

– By Abby Weyer- On April 25 this year, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, flattening thousands of towns and villages, and killing over 8,000. Three weeks later in early May, the country was hit again with another equally powerful quake while its citizens were still recovering from the devastating effects of the first. To make matters worse, hundreds of aftershocks, some registering a magnitude above four, have been occurring since. Although scientists had given countless warning signs that Nepal was due for an earthquake because of its location, the country was severely unprepared for what was to come. Structurally unsound buildings toppled, burying thousands under rubble that aid workers are still working to dig through nearly a month after the first quake. Additionally, hundreds were buried in heavy snow after the earthquake triggered a large avalanche on Mount Everest. The deaths on the mountain totaled 19 including all four American deaths recorded from the earthquake, making it one of the worst accidents ever on Mount Everest. This devastating series of events resulted in not only the loss of thousands of lives but also the injury of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure, and the ruin of priceless historical sites like Kathmandu Durbar Square, a plaza home to the old royal palaces of Nepal.

Despite downed communications and damaged roads, a rescue work force comprised mostly of members of the Nepalese army responded quickly, working to search for those missing immediately after the quake. India was the first outside country to pitch into the relief effort, providing troops from its armed forces to aid rescue missions and medical support after the quake. By April 26, over 50 international governments had either mobilized rescue workers or donated money to Nepal, including the United States, which donated 10 million federal dollars as well as additional money raised through public donations. Nepal’s hilly and mountainous terrain has been a huge obstacle for rescue and aid workers who have struggled to get supplies and injured civilians up to higher elevations.

It has become clear, based on the sheer amount of destruction, that it is going to take many years for Nepal’s citizens to return to their everyday lives. Survivors, many of whom are orphaned children, have been left homeless, and the entire country’s supplies of water and food are quickly dwindling. It will take Nepal many months and billions of dollars to reconstruct buildings and homes that were reduced to rubble. Most public donations to organizations like the Red Cross and UNICEF are giving citizens the medical attention and shelter they need to stay safe for now, but the future still holds many unknown possibilities. As weeks pass, hospitals will eventually fill up and relief support will decrease, leaving many susceptible to disease or hunger. However, physical consequences might not be the worst of the destruction. Emotional trauma and guilt following the earthquake has been prevalent among survivors and aid workers left to mourn the loss of family and friends. Nepal has already seen an alarmingly large influx of suicides and suicide attempts since the first quake. Although physical damage will eventually be repaired, emotional damage will last a lifetime; the emotional damage sustained by Nepal’s citizens could require medical attention that Nepal may not have the money and resources to supply.

The world has witnessed the horrors of large-scale natural disasters before, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan; both of these events have had long-standing effects that are still burdening the countries even today. It is crucial to understand that countries may take decades to recover from disasters such as these. As students, we may have a larger impact if we team up collectively to hold fundraisers in order to spread awareness and collect donations. Clubs especially have a lot of power to make a difference. So far, Giovanna DeVito ’16 has been raising money for Nepal by selling “Nepal” bracelets during snack. If you want to make a contribution to the Nepal effort, purchasing one of these bracelets is a great place to start! No matter how you show we show our support, it is important that we must maintain solidarity and continue to support the relief effort in Nepal for not only these first crucial weeks but also years to come.