The days and weeks following the Nepal earthquake that struck April 25 have been devastating for survivors, with many still living and sleeping in tents as aftershocks continue throughout the region. On the ground, the global Red Cross network, led by the Nepal Red Cross and supported by the American Red Cross, continues its international emergency response to help those in need.
Nepal Red Cross disaster response teams are operating in the 14 most-affected districts, distributing supplies and providing ready to eat meals and rice for families and individuals. More than 7,000 Red Cross volunteers and employees have been mobilized throughout the affected areas.
Last week, on May 12, a 7.3 magnitude aftershock struck that has further burdened districts already damaged by the initial quake. Distributions of relief supplies, including shelter materials, hygiene kits, blankets and health care supplies, are scaling up even as search and rescue efforts continue. Although aid is now reaching many of the areas affected by the April 25 earthquake, access remains a challenge for some of the worst affected areas, particularly remote communities north of Kathmandu.
Treacherous Travel to Reach Mountain Communities
Red Cross Disaster Specialist Julie Bradley, part of the Red Cross IT/Telecommunications Emergency Response Unit, traveled to one of these communities to restore communications.
“To get to this remote mountainous area of Nepal, we had driven at walking pace up a narrow, dusty road with steep drop-offs, stopping only for a landslide which partially blocked the road and to check on our sensitive equipment strapped to the roof of our car,” said Bradley.
The team was traveling to a remote village in the mountains called Dhunche, where a Canadian Red Cross medical unit needed contact with the outside world to do its job.
“Along the way we passed destroyed villages waving strings of colorful Buddhist prayer flags,” said Bradley. “Their baked brick homes built on a ridge line had literally crumbled during the earthquake. Survivors had salvaged and gathered what they could and were sleeping outdoors or under raised blue tarps with the Red Cross symbol.”
While finding a clear line to the satellite in the steep terrain was a challenge, the expert IT/Telecommunications team was able to restore communications for the Red Cross medical unit operating on the narrow, rare strip of flat land on the mountain. Julie and her husband, Glen Bradley, were deployed to Nepal in late April and are supporting dozens of Red Cross teams on the ground by setting up satellite communications, networking and radio capability—essential tools for disaster relief.
To date, the American Red Cross has committed $5 million to the response, while also providing relief supplies to support efforts and deploying a total of 12 disaster specialists. The American Red Cross is working closely with the Nepal Red Cross and the global Red Cross to coordinate additional support. Our team is also providing remote mapping and information management support, with nearly 4,900 volunteers contributing to mapping Nepal.
Three Ways to Help Nepal Survivors
For help locating family members or to register yourself as safe in Nepal, visit www.familylinks.icrc.org. People can also contact the U.S. State Department for information on U.S citizens living or traveling in Nepal.