Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jan 1, 2005 - a field report from the islands on; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 1, 2005
Field Report from Andamans 311204 1930hrs IST
31 Dec 2004 14:05:00 GMT

Source: NGO latest

Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) – India Website: Field Report from Andamans

SEEDS, Port Blair. 31 December 2004. 1800 hrs IST

The SEEDS field assessment team reached Tamil Nadu on 27 December. We realised that there are some credible NGOs extending aid there. Meanwhile the toll in Andaman and Nicobar was rising and no assistance had reached there due to logistics problems. As such, we moved to the Andamans on 28 December and started relief operations here. Our update is below.

1. We are continuing our relief activities in the two relief camps in Port Blair where evacuees from three locations - Hutbay, Campbell bay, Nancowrie and Car Nicobar Island are being given shelter. These relief camps are being run in Nirmala school and School Line, both in Port Blair, where we have more than 1300 people in the camps right now and more keep coming in. People in the relief camps are being provided shelter, food, toilets and basic cleanliness and sanitation services.
2. Nicobar area is worst hit. The people were washed out, and these being islands in the middle of the ocean, many bodies did not wash back ashore. From back calculations (by counting heads and assuming missing persons as dead), the rough estimates of casualties are about 15,000 in this group of islands alone. Most of the evacuees from these islands are coconut farmers or run piggeries back on their islands.
3. The administration is still evacuating people from vulnerable areas and bringing them to Port Blair under fear of another tsunami. A false alert caused great panic yesterday.
4. There is still no other NGO doing relief work in Andaman and Nicobar. Some NGOs have come for reconnaissance work. There are two more camps being run in Port Blair, both by the administration. Only the administration and some small local groups are working. They are grossly inadequate.
5. There is damage in Port Blair in terms of infrastructure. The administration is busy with putting things back in place. These are primarily facilities that have been damaged, like communications, roads, airport and jetty.
6. We may take up a third relief camp if required.
7. There is an acute shortage of water as the pipe from the dam to the treatment plant has got damaged and not being repaired yet. We are not yet able to sort the problem of water and trying to get some technical expertise on the same.
8. We have put up tents, and are operating the kitchen, distributing food, organising local transport of material, and providing sanitation facilities. We need continued supply of basic provisions to carry this on, and need additional provisions like disposable plates etc. People need other specific things of basic necessity such as soap, towels, foot slippers, bedsheets,
torches, and bags to keep their belongings in. These are not available locally and will need to be transported to Port Blair by air urgently.
9. Taking relief from the mainland is a difficult process. Moving to remote islands is virtually impossible. For the time being SEEDS will run the two relief camps for evacuees in Port Blair.
10. Lakshmi, our logistics officer in the Delhi office accompanied by Sumati, a volunteer from ERM Delhi, is now in Chennai and procured our first load of commodities: soap, toothpaste and towels. This consignment is at the airport waiting to be airlifted. More relief material has been procured today and is currently being packed. It includes foot slippers and torches. The team will deliver this second consignment at the airport tonight and try to get it airlifted tomorrow. Tomorrow they will procure bedsheets and also bags for the evacuees to keep their belongings in.
11. The mission running the Nirmala School is very efficient and is playing a good role in management of the camp. We have provided tents, toilets etc. here and are extending full support for other things. The second camp also is running well now. Yuva Shakti, a local voluntary group is assisting us us, and 20 volunteers are working round the clock to improve and manage the camp.
12. Facilities like T.V , Radio and News Papers are being provided to the people in the camps.
13. Psychosocial Counselling to the victims has been started. Ms. Kanan, the owner of a local restaurant "Annaporna" is organising this with her team.
14. We are also tying up with local cultural groups for organising cultural evenings in the camps.
15. We have mobilised National Cadet Corps youth for monitoring the security and food supplies.
16. The District Administration has requested SEEDS to do a damage assessment and submit a report. We are organising a technical team for this. We will extend all possible cooperation to the District Administration as they are under tremendous pressure right now.
17. SEEDS has initiated its step towards taking up housing reconstruction work in the Islands. For this we have started some data action. Map Action from U.K. is supporting us on mapping the islands on which we intend to start work. At noon today our team also had a coordination meeting with the District Collector for discussions on the further steps.
18. Many concerned persons are contacting us from India and abroad through our Delhi office to find out about their friends or family missing in the Andamans. We are putting up the details of missing persons on a common board at a central location, and also get them aired on local radio. Any information required for any missing person in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
can be mailed to us at with details and photograph of
the person and his/ her last whereabouts known.
 19. We are also getting offers from many volunteers willing to work for relief. We do not need them in Port Blair as there is shortage of accommodation, high cost of transport, and we are currently depending on local volunteers. We have up a volunteer roster on our website wherefrom any ngo needing support can directly access these volunteers. These volunteers include doctors.

Current indications of needs in Andaman and Nicobar are as follows:
Short Term Mid Term Long Term
§ Drinking Water
§ Soap and toiletteries
§ Towels
§ Bedsheets
§ Torches and batteries
§ Foot slippers
§ Expandable bags § Tents
§ Beddings
§ Utensils
§ Housing
§ Livelihood re-establishment
§ Community facilities
§ Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness programmes

We will try to wind up the relief camps by around 10 January, and facilitate the movement of the people back to their islands. By then we have to start planning assistance for reconstruction of houses and community facilities.

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