My son, Cliff Brock, has been an eyewitness to many of the tragic events in and around Kathmandu, Nepal.
Cliff grew up in Chapel Hill and has traveled throughout most of Southeast Asia over the last 30 years. While he remains a resident of Chapel Hill, he has visited Nepal many times and, most recently, has been living in Kathmandu for over six months. He loves the people there and, quite understandably, has been deeply concerned for their plight.
What follows are his own observations and experiences sent in the days just after the earthquake.
April 26: “I left Kathmandu day before (the quake) to go to Dhulikiel (Hill village). I was on grassy mountaintop. Just took a photo of a bird I had never seen when all the birds flew away. I thought this interesting, but as I looked into the valley, I saw a few local houses crumble and the screams and wailing began. After second shock I stood up and lost my balance. I was on good ground but even so it felt like I was in a rinse cycle or ship about to sink.
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“More people gathered to this grassy spot and after a couple hours made it back to town. Fallen bricks were everywhere, but I was far enough away from the epicenter. Almost all the locals slept outside in communal tents including all the staff in the hotel. By that time aftershocks were 4 or 5 so I slept in my room through the rest of it. The room boy said there was a big one at 5 a.m. Two jumped off a roof to their deaths, two cars and minibus went off the mountain. Hospital is full and those adults with only broken hands, etc. cannot be helped yet.”
April 27: “My normally hour long bus ride (from Dhulikiel to KMD) took seven. Where there are deep fissures in the road, we had to get out, walk a couple miles, catch another bus to next fissure, etc.
“Before I left Dhulikiel there was another aftershock when I took my last evening walk. After second shock I stood up and lost my balance. Bricks falling off roofs. I ducked quickly under alcove. Lasted only a few seconds but it was raining bricks.
“Back in KTM, no more aftershocks today. But its Dante’s inferno. People sleeping in the wide open spaces. Cooking in big pots with firewood on the streets. Dogs that have been left by people able to flee KTM are hungry, drooling and growling. Its truly a classless society for the moment. Rich are sleeping with poor under tarps. Guess who is most generous sharing their food? The rich are huddled in their corners looking scared like somebody is going to rob them. In hotel almost next to mine during initial shock tourist couple ran out totally naked. Did not bother to wrap sheets around themselves.
“Tomorrow I am spending part or whole day searching out friends. Whole streets are pulverized. These friends are excellent communicators, and absolutely none of them have even seen my messages and electricity and WiFi (at least here in Paknajol area) have been on for over an hour. (Friends turned out to have left city before worst of quake effect.)
“Tomorrow, I go to Pashupati, Hindu holy place where the river flows eventually to the Ganges. They are still having mass cremations. I will also check my apartment to see if its still there in the Buddhist area of Boudanath.”
As soon as we heard of the earthquake on Saturday, April 25, we emailed Cliff, hoping to hear from him. We also were able to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, the International Red Cross and Oxfam for assistance in locating Cliff. We also got in touch with the office of Congressman David Price and asked for their help. Finally, the morning of the 26th we had an email from Cliff assuring us that he was safe and well. It was a tremendous relief to know he had survived the devastation of the quake.
The Nepalese people need all the help they can get. Two highly rated agencies providing assistance in Nepal to which we are contributing are Oxfam and the Nepal Youth Foundation. I have contributed to the latter and plan do so for Oxfam. Information about both is available on their websites. Doctors Without Borders is another highly regarded organization there.
Eunice Brock lives in Chapel Hill.