With a profound sense of foreboding we stepped ashore in Medana Bay, Lombok. Evidence of earthquake stress waves were everywhere but I guess I expected much worse. Of course the marina is gone except for the small floating dock we’d just tied up to, but there were decent temporary structures that will make do. There were reports from the other cruisers that it’s pretty bad in town, a short hot walk from the marina, and that’s where we’re heading. Survival tents are a clue of what’s ahead.
As we walked, the closer to the town we got, the scope of the devastation got worse. Pretty bad hardly describes what has happened here.
A once thriving market place was almost erased.
It seems that many families are either afraid to live in their houses or their houses are rubble.
In every interaction the dialog is the same.
“How is your family?”
“They are ok, thank god.”
“And your house?”
At first we thought great, the reconstruction is going really well. Then it dawned on us. “Finished” means gone, obliterated.
People told us the initial disaster response from domestic and foreign aid agencies was quick and comprehensive with shelter, food, water, and medical assistance, but moving the rubble out of the way just so you can walk is a monumental, overwhelming task. I saw an old woman frozen in place, shoulders slumped, head hanging down, holding a small piece of concrete in the middle of a head-high pile of rubble, seemingly unable to decide what to do with it. The government has promised relief funds for rebuilding but, well you know, you apply and then you wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn. The people we talked to aren’t holding their breath.
The concrete block masonry construction techniques are pretty good in a cyclone but just don’t fare well in an earthquake.
We feel so inadequate and helpless with total devastation all around us. What can we do in just a few days?