Nepal Earthquake: Updates, and What to do and How to help
As most everyone knows by now, there was a devastating, magnitude 7.9 earthquake at midday on April 25, 2015, with its epicenter 43 miles northwest of Kathmandu, near Lamjung. It was a shallow earthquake, which generally equals a more destructive quake as well. From early reports, it seems this is indeed the case.
From what I can gather from news and reports from friends:
- Kathmandu Valley: The capital of Nepal and home to a couple million people was hit hard. Reports vary, but thus far more than 1,400 are confirmed dead, and that number will undoubtedly rise greatly as tomorrow dawns and more rescue efforts begin. Reports indicate that nearly half the structures in Bhaktapur, an ancient city 12 kilometer east of Kathmandu, we leveled, and I’d assume a similar situation plays out throughout the valley. Many UNESCO World Heritage sites have crumbled as well, even many that survived the epic 1934 earthquake epicentered in Bihar (which nearly leveled Kathmandu). Flights are disrupted, as are most communications.
- Everest and Environs: The quake triggered at least one massive avalanche (and probably many more) that swept off of Pumori, which stands just to the west of Everest’s Khumbu Basecamp. The avalanche hit many camps, burying many, and killing perhaps 18 people. Rescue efforts are going on, and many climbers are stranded above Basecamp, at Camps 1 and 2, as the route through the Khumbu Icefall has been destroyed as well. Additionally, reports say that many villages down valley have been heavily impacted. I hear that Phortse was hit hard, and Thame, near Namche Bazaar, reportedly was flattened, although there were no deaths. The same situation is likely playing out throughout the Khumbu Valley, as well as others like Langtang, Helambu, Rolwaling, Barun, Solu, and more. Again, tomorrow will bring more news.
- Rural areas: There is little, if any, news I’ve found coming from other parts of Nepal. One can assume they have been hit hard as well, since damage was done as far away as New Delhi, India. Again, more information will like come tomorrow, Nepal time, as the sun rises and teams mobilize to assess and help.
So, what can one do? Obviously, the need is great in Nepal – it was before the quake, and now is even more so. And, the need will grow as time goes on. However, I think it is important to keep in mind a few things:
- It’s still early in the disaster. Work is just beginning, and the true scope of need has yet to be assessed. While many groups are already mobilized and working (think ICRC, etc.), the situation is still rapidly unfolding. Aid organizations need funds over a sustained period of time, and everyone wants their money to go where it is needed most. So, I would recommend waiting until the proverbial dust settles a bit, get a clear picture of what is needed, and who can best provide, and then give…and give generously.
- Do your homework as there often are unscrupulous people out there who are unafraid to take advantage during a time like this. Donate only to groups who you have vetted, and who you know will put the funds to use where you intend.
- Remember the need will continue for Nepal long after the immediate relief efforts have done what they can. As said above, Nepal needed deep and systematic help before this quake, and will need even more after the immediate aftermath. So, if you have the ability, consider giving now, and then giving later, but probably to separate groups. Remember that disaster relief is different than development. Disaster relief is now, development work – which is the long term cornerstone of recovery – is later. Organizations like the Mountain Partnership, dZi Foundation, American Himalayan Foundation, The Mountain Insitute, ICIMOD, The Mountain Fund, and more are the ones who are there for the long term, creating change that helps far into the future. So, give to both, and give often, if you can.
Finally, as mentioned in my Facebook feed, I am working to try to mobilize those interested individuals and corporations to donate supplies which will be badly needed in the days and weeks to come: tents, sleeping bags, and warm clothing. As a community, we in the outdoor business and life not only derive much joy from Nepal, but also have a great ability to give back. I know I have extra sleeping bags and coats and gloves and more in my gear closet. Many of you probably do, too. As an athlete, I also have many old prototypes waiting to be put to good use. Additionally, many companies we all know may be able to step forward and make donations of clothing and shelter as well. In the days to come, I will be working hard to organize a means of collection for these supplies, a way to get them to Nepal, and a way to get them distributed where they are needed most. I have feelers out globally to people from the US government to the United Nations and many places in between; but, if you know someone who could be of help with this – the biggest hurdle is getting things to Nepal – please reach out to me using my contact form here.
And, please, share this post, and let me know how else I can help. Below is a video with some of my memories of 23 years of travel in Nepal; May this remind us all of the beauty that is Nepal, its people, and its environment, and inspire us to help shine a light on its future. Music of Shiv Kumar Sharma accompanies.
Thank you, and a deep Namaste to you all.