Earthquake and tsumani disaster in India, Indonesia

Note: This file with some pictures was recovered from our previous installation. Beth Johnson of Chennai, India, provided all text and pictures. She also provided information about reroofing the training school.

See the last section of this site for details of damage to many areas.“Anniversary” memorials have been held in India, Sri Lanka, and other Asian countries.

Americans and other foreigners have traveled to India to help in the mamouth task of supplying the basic needs of the Tsunami victims. Many brought great amounts of cash to help and have done a marvelous work. Organizations like the Red Cross or the Lion’s Club wonder if gifts to the victims are being duplicated since there seems to be no organized effort in any one area. That is a legitimate question which should be addressed with any group responsible for passing out funds.

Obviously there will be some duplication, but we have made every effort to avoid such. The report you are about to see is not about large gifts to (or through) anyone in particular. This report is about food and basic supplies being given to tens of thousands of poor people who lack daily provisions or a job to keep themselves alive. We are only a small cog in the wheel of many who have worked to supply their daily needs. They appear to be grateful for the help they have received, as you can see from pictures. Some appear sad, and they are. They have just experienced a horrible tragedy and either miss immediate family members, loved ones or neighbors who were swept away in the flood. Many now fear the ocean they once loved. To them, the deep sea is the Devil.

As the excitement of the initial benevolent response begins to slow, the needs have become greater. When the world has forgotten these poor victims, they will still need food, clothing and shelter. We plan to continue helping as we have opportunity until the government can supply such needs as high rise apartments and equipment to use in their trade. We all hope the memory of the tsunami fades and the stigma of eating seafood diminishes soon. The needs are still great as you can see from the following pictures.

Edamani Village: Pulicate Post


Rice bags IndiaWe have been buying rice in bulk and packaging it for easy distribution to needy families. As you can see, we loaded our front veranda with the bags so that our students, teachers and other volunteers would have a clean place to measure and bag it. The next few photos were taken in a series to show the process.

RicebaggingWe then loaded a truck with the prepared bags. In later photos, you can see the people who went to distribute these bags to the needy families. There has been a lot of work involved, but not nearly as much as there was in the daily distribution of fresh food. Feeding the masses on a daily basis and trying to stay safe at the same time was quite a challenge for everyone.

As you can see, even the security guard got into the swing of things. Of course he is in on the shady side of the truck as any sensible man would be in 106° F.

Finally, the bags are distributed to the people themselves. This seems to be much more orderly and effective way of giving to the poor than giving out fresh food packets. riceloading.jpg



Here is an example of trouble we are facing everywhere…. In the sample article (below), we read about money that was slated for the Maldives (islands off the coast of India) but has not reached them so far. Naturally this is causing unrest even among the ones who were not directly affected. The tourism business has been almost totally shut down.

In another article in the Indian Express, May 29th, when Bill Clinton visited the Nagapattanam area, he is quoted as saying, “Right now that [the need of more money] is not an issue because three billion US dollars are there in the bank accounts of NGOs in US, Europe, Asia and even Latin America. Once the NGO money flows, that itself will meet all the requirements.”

Here it is six months after the disaster, and this is part-and-parcel of a real problem here. The 3 billion dollars in aid donated to tsunami victims is *not* moving because the NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) have not begun their work. The point should be made clear, that tsunami victims are in need now, and have been since December 26th. Who knows how they have kept body and soul together? We are doing our best to assist in every way we can with the funds sent to us. Meanwhile the poor people are suffering.

Consider that at the same time the anti-Christian element, especially in India, is looking for ways to accuse Christians, who give out aid, of buying “rice Christians” with money. Add to that the stories told by the liberal media about how the US government is abusing its (terrorist) prisoners and their holy books, and you have a potentially explosive situation for Americans everywhere–especially Christian Americans.


On June 1st we paid 2 month’s rent for 450 families who have no fishing jobs. Last week we paid the first 2 month’s rent for another 475 families. This week we paid 2 month’s rent to over 300 other tsunami victims in the same apartment complex and received the official government stamped receipts in return. We have no idea why the government is not giving free rent to the victims as promised, since most have no way to earn a living until the fishing industry is restored. But by the end of the year, the government should have repaired the fishing boats, bought them new nets and enabled the fishing industry to get back to its normal productivity once again.


Pictures shown were taken by the men who are serving food in the Kasimedu area each day. The bags are filled with individual food packets meant for the ones who have had no way to prepare meals after their living quarters were destroyed.


There are approximately 50 individual packets in each bag.

Delivery of the food packets is not an easy task. The crowds have grown so aggressive that it is dangerous.


Obviously the food is good or the people would not rush so to get it.


This is only one area where A. Job works. He has been taking different teachers, staff and students with him each day, to give everyone a chance to help with benevolence. Approximately 1,000 meals have been prepared and given out each night for the last month, but the workers tell us that at times there are nearly 4,000 people. They say the crowd literally storms the delivery trucks to get the packets. Because of this we we have given permission to serve 1,500 meals starting tomorrow.


Notice the initial “shelters” being built here. This will shelter from the sun and other “elements,” but it has no floor, fan or lights. Actually multiple doors are planned, but no windows. The shelter is being made of corrugated PVC roofing materials.

OK, ladies! Now do your laundry, clean your living area and generally keep soul and body together. That is about all you can do in a space like this.


Keep in mind that counting, loading and distribution of food packets is done twice daily without fail.

Once in a while, a friendly policeman will help control the crowds. Otherwise, the task of delivering food is difficult for everyone involved.


The “hotel” is where the meal packets are being prepared. No doubt they have had to hire more staff to help with the job of making so many meals each day.


These children certainly know that being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect — it means they’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections. Note the pretty smiles. Even some of the victims were willing to help pass out the meals at times. The victims in this area have so far not found permanent shelter. They are waiting for government help which has been promised but not delivered.

Between the Lighthouse and Elliott Beach Area (Chennai)

Most of the photos to be added to this space have been taken by members of our staff who live near this area.


Originally, our students and staff were going twice daily to Elliott Beach to give food packets to affected families. Professional beggars moved into this area, so we had to be very careful who actually received the food packets. They started off giving 500 meals each day by asking legitimate poor to meet them at a designated place at certain times.


Unlike the areas further south, Chennai city officials were immediately out cleaning up the beaches and other areas affected by the disaster. As far as the average tourist is concerned, it now appears that nothing has happened here. The only thing they cannot see without research is the number of families affected who have had to move elsewhere.


Arrangements were made with a local restaurant to prepare good, clean meals, which are packaged for easy distribution. The owner of the restaurant originally gave a discount because we are buying for the tsunami victims. Fortunately the government has been careful to provide the people with good water. Even though reports of water contamination have been a concern, it seems these people are not suffering.

We immediately began trying to locate the neediest people in the the Elliott Beach Area as well as other areas further south. With no trouble at all we found numerous souls who were hungry and out of work. We have given out packets of food (up to 600 some days) and have purchased stoves, pots, mats, and other household goods, so some can to do their own cooking. Most of the victims are in temporary shelters with no place to do anything but sit. All are staying where the government has placed them so they can get their allotment when the time comes. If they are not in the right place at the right time they may lose the opportunity for government aid. Because of this situation, these people will need food for several more months at least.


As you might imagine, the families who lived at Elliott Beach earned their living as laborers for the fishing industry. The general panic all over Chennai (Madras) is that the fish have been eating the dead bodies washed out to sea, so the fish will be diseased. Nobody seems to be buying fish these days. Not only did the tsunami leave these people without a way to fish (boats destroyed), it also left them with nobody to sell to. That ultimately will affect the general economy. They have no money to buy food, nor to rebuild their huts. Notice the temporary shelters in the pictures below.


The most pitiful groups of people affected by the tsunami are the day laborers who worked for and rented huts from the fishermen. They are being chased away from the area for fear they might get some of the assistance being given fishermen. Nobody seems to have any compassion on these homeless, jobless victims.



This family lost the father (shown in small photo), and most of their goods. The man on the left is the student we sent to investigate. The family is moving back to the farming area where they used to live several years ago. They had left the farm to join the fishing industry because the drought made earning a living nearly impossible.


A man who graduated from CTTS and one of our part time teachers have gone to Nagapattanam to do follow-up work with the people we have already helped there. We have leased land for 5 families and are buying a cow for each of the others who have found a place to live with relatives. The CTTS graduate is shown giving the lease agreement. We are now in the process of helping other families to find ways of earning a living since the fishing industry is “out of whack.”

These are only two examples of aid given to poor families who needed some method of earning a living after the disaster. They were formerly farmers who had migrated to the sea for work, but now fear to remain in that profession.


Indian Express: Chennai, Feb 17, 2005
Seaside houses to be relocated
Indian Express: By JEEVA

Chennai, Feb 17: The Tamil Nadu Government has directed the collectors of tsunami-affected districts to “compulsorily” relocate houses within 500 metres of the High Tide Line (HTL). And if the topography demanded, then houses falling between 500 and 1,000 metres of HTL could also be considered for relocation.

The directive was issued by the Revenue Administration’s Disaster Management Department through a communication dated January 19. The districts concerned are Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Nagappattinam, Tiruvavur, Thanjavur, Villupuram, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Pudukkottai and Kanyakumari.

The communication says, “A preliminary discussion with the affected population, including the panchayat ward members and the president, will be required to assess whether they would be interested in shifting from their existing locations.”

It adds: “In case of re-location, the existing houses will have to be handed over to the government by a process of relinquishment for appropriate action, since the **beneficiaries in the new locations will be given full ownership of ‘patta’ for the area under their enjoyment** and the construction will be fully funded either by the government or by the NGOs or voluntary agencies or public and private enterprises or national or international rehabilitation organisations.”

The department has also asked the collectors to undertake a survey to cover all the partly or fully damaged houses within 500 metres of High Tide Line. The format of the survey has also been sent to the collectors.

“Based on the survey details, the ‘poromboke’ land that is to be set apart and private land to be acquired for allotment will have to be finalised tentatively since government allots free ownership ‘patta’ up to a maximum of three cents (about 1,363 sq. ft.) only,” the department said.

It also said that “A similar site allocation may be considered with a provision for increased allocation in case of individuals willing to pay for the extra land at the rate to be decided by the government”

The survey would enable the government to identify how many households existed within the 500-metre zone and over 500 metre but within 1,000 metre (1 km), the communication said.

However, it noted: “Because we are surveying the under one kilometre zone, it does not mean that we will provide housing to all under the 1-km zone. The first rehabilitation effort will be to cover only those who live in the under 500-metre zone.”

Revenue department officials said that they had already started getting survey reports from the districts.

Officials said that structures like beach resorts, hotels and farmhouses currently existing within the 500-metre limit would not be covered under the relocation plan. The fishermen community is upset over the development.

“The Coastal Regulation Zone acknowledges the rights of the fishing community to stay on the coastline.

“When the government is silent over the resorts, farmhouses and hotels existing within the 500-metre zone, we fear that the present move to re-locate us might be an attempt by vested interests, using the fear of tsunami, to grab the land,” many fishermen in Kasim¬edu, Royapuram and Marina say in one voice.

Second Phase of Relief this week
Express News Service

Chennai, Feb 16: The State Government will begin the distribution of provisions under the phase of relief package to tsunami-affected families this week This is for the months of February, March; and April.

The relief covers the beneficiaries of the first phase of distribution besides those who were left out in the earlier process. According to official sources, the present package includes Rs 1,000 in cash (~ $23.40 US), 30 kg of rice, three litres of kerosene, two litres of palm oil and one kg of sugar besides toor dahl, tea dust and dry chillies. Around 2.90 lakh families will be benefited in the second phase of distribution which will be done through the Civil Supplies Department.


Following is a country-by-country breakdown of the original death toll:


Indonesia 104,055 dead; up to 100,000 still missing
Sri Lanka 30,718 dead; 16,760 still missing
India 15,636 dead; 5,711 still missing
Thailand 5,305 dead; 8,457 still missing
East Africa 137
Malaysia 74 dead, 299 still missing
Maldives 74
Myanmar 59 dead; 45 still missing
Bangladesh 2
TOTAL 156,058 dead; still missing 131,272

The East Africa figure includes Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Madagascar.

Number of injured is not available for all countries affected, but is expected to exceed the number of dead.
Source: Reuters


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Death Toll now standing at 225, 000

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies): Four weeks after the tsunami, the number of dead in south-east Asia keeps on climbing. But at least aid is arriving in vast quantities and reconstruction has started.

With the death toll now standing at 225,000, the catastrophe ranks as the third-worst natural disaster in the past 100 years with some 56 countries suffering casualties.

Refugee camps on the Indian mainland (in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh) are now shelter to 378,000 people. Some 2.7 million people were affected by the tsunami.

India has refused international aid and allocated US$ 500 million for aid and reconstruction.

More than 700 Germans Still Missing

After the flood, is the race to rebuild lives being won?


Within the United States, toll free number: 888-407-4747.
Overseas: 317-472-2328.
State Department’s American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, 202-647-5225.

Information about disaster relief, preparation and emergency services to U.S. citizens abroad.

An article by Randal Matheny from Brazil has offered some thoughts for us all to consider.


Barry and Melanie Hatcher write:


The word from Aceh and the tsunami area this week is the fires they are having and can’t put out are due to lack of water. The fires were started from burning trash that got out of control in the high winds. The Indonesian aid agencies are arriving now and setting up so that in the next 6-8 weeks the International agencies can be relieved some. The most important things now are setting up schools and better hospital/clinic facilities. In fact some of the schools started back on the 26th, exactly one month after the tsunami hit. From the pictures you could tell which children no longer had homes, as they did not have uniforms. There are efforts to begin peace-talks between the Indonesian government and the rebels. Who knows how that will work out.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?