A relief workers for earthquake victims
The severe tremor shook us at early dawn. When I woke up I felt a strange sensation. There was an unusual silence, a queer quiescence in nature. There was no noise or activity of the birds. The earthquake came with a fearful subterranean underground sound. Under the feet the earth shook in frenzy and it seemed as if several high power turbines were running underground. The door latches, so simple in operation, got locked due to the tremor and would not open. The roof of an old building where a musical programme had been held last night collapsed causing many deaths. In some places the roads were cracked.
As a member of the relief team I toured widely. The places that were further from the epicentre were more severely damaged, especially in the villages. Many schools and government dispensaries were affected. In a Sadar hospital the earthquake caused a panic. Some patients with minor bone fractures fell that a victim to falling beams as they tried to run out of the main block in panic. The loss of life was not much as it was dawn. The people were mostly out of their beds. Had it been midnight the loss would have been much greater. Apart from this many railway tracks were damaged. The villages suffered more heavily as they lost much of their livestock. The cattle tied to poles in their sheds suffered bone injuries as their roofs collapsed at places.
The main problem for us was communication as the railroads were damaged and the telephone poles had fallen. We were provided with jeeps and first-aid teams that worked under us. There were others problems too, especially the purchase committee. It had to be formed with honest workers.
Firstly we managed to convert the schools into temporary hospitals at places. We began to receive monetary aids as well aids of clothing, mosquito nets and others necessary articles. The district authorities required the services of some capable teachers who were known for their loyal and honest service. Many of my colleagues were, thus, included in various relief committees. I was empowered by our D.M. to have direct contact with him, whereas others had to work within limited range.
We set up several distribution centres for giving relief materials to the affected persons. I disliked one such centre that was fixed to the house of a local advocate. He was shrewd and influential, but basically dishonest. I knew a lot about his misdeeds when he was the chairman of a consumers’ cooperative. He had a strong lobby and ascendancy. But I secretly confided the DM about his shady character. The result was that the DM struck off his name by virtue of his overriding power.
Different centres for medical help, food, clothing was set up. We had to work round the clock in turn and our boys were of great help in the matter. Thus more than a month was spent to instill confidence in the victims. But gradually things began to look up. I personally took the initiative in raising a fund for the families of the poor and affected victims. In this my colleagues joined hands with me because the spectacle of those ruined families was too miserable to see. Naturally the milk of human kindness induced them to come out of their selfish feelings and contribute their mite.
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