Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cousins in China Earthquake

My cousins, serving in C h i n a, were in last week's earthquake. Here's their most recent update so you can join us as we intercede on their behalf. Thanks.

Hi all,

We are still doing pretty well in our city after the quake. To fill you in on some details, Monday we were home for the initial big earthquake. We rode out the several minutes in the bathroom with the kids in the bathtub. Then we grabbed shoes and our hiking carrier for our youngest and ran outside. (fortunately we had some diapers in the carrier bag.) Before we went in the bathroom I had grabbed a cell phone and keys. That was about 2:30pm. K a t i e was in the middle of a language tutoring session so her tutor was with us for this time.

After standing around with a crowd of people in a clearing a few blocks away for an hour or two, we walked over to the University that I am is studying at. On the way we were able to buy some water and food to snack on. We found some friends there on campus. We sat around in an open grassy area on campus until about 9:30 that evening. The school opened up a cafeteria kitchen to feed the crowds. We decided to go back to our apartment and see what it was like.

When we got there no one was inside and the power was out. They let me go in to get some things as long as I came out right away. I was able to get another bag full with clothes for the kids, diapers, flashlights, umbrellas and rain gear, more money, and blankets. We then went back to the campus as they wouldn’t let anyone stay in our building.

At about 11:30 I heard that some foreign teachers were going to try and stay in a brand new dorm building on campus. I went with them and fortunately already knew the administrators that were handing out the keys (I got to know them because of the track and field competition that I did last month). They gave us an open dorm room to stay in – with some furniture, power and running water! The plaster had some cracks but the building was inspected and cleared to use.

We slept there with only one big interruption from 4-6am when we had to evacuate, into the rain outside, due to a big aftershock. At about 9am we went back to our apartment and the power was back on. We have been staying at home since.

It really makes one think about how much money you normally have in your pocket, how charged your cell phone is, what clothes you and your kids wear around the house, how quickly your family can leave the house prepared to be gone for many hours, etc.

The biggest issue lately has been water. Yesterday there were a lot of rumors and fear of the water being turned off and/or being polluted. Some think it might be polluted because of the two chemical factories that were destroyed in the earthquake. So, periodically the city has been shutting the water off for testing. So far it has only been off for between 30 minutes to several hours at a time for us. Other people have had it off for several days. It has been shut off for us at least once during the day, every day for the past three days.

Yesterday it was on for most of the day so we had a chance to fill a lot of bins/buckets up in case it goes off for a while. Fortunately, we have some very large Rubbermaid bins that we packed our stuff over in when we moved here. We have filled 7 of them with water throughout our apartment, and we used some of it today when the water was turned off. Some of the rumors are saying it could be 2-7 days of being off at some point. Thankfully, so far they are not true.

That is just the tap water, which is not safe for drinking without treating it. Bottled filtered water was sold out around us within 2 hours of the announcements that they were turning off the water. I (Neal) went down when we found out to buy some more 5 gal. jugs of filtered water. I waited in line at the water distributor shop for about an hour before a small truck arrived with more, since they had run out. It was a crazy scene with people arguing, pushing, and stressed over waiting in line. Fortunately it didn’t get too bad. They handed out numbers to help know who was there waiting.

When the truck arrived they mobbed with people trying to grab the bottles and run. (I heard that water bottles were being stolen all over the city.) The workers pushed the people back and started going through the numbers to sell 2 jugs to each number. So, I got two. We already had 2.5 at home so that helped us have a decent supply for a little while. With normal water use we go through about 1 per day, but we’ve been doing well to conserve.

This has been our first extended earthquake experience. It has not been a very settled couple of days since aftershocks and tremors are still continuing. Mostly just minor tremors at this point. It is a strange sensation to feel that we are moving. The wife is especially sensitive to feeling the movement. She feels just about every tremor and aftershock. The other night she was feeling somewhat like she was ‘sea-sick’ from it. I really only feel the minor ones when I am sitting or standing still.

The girls are doing pretty well considering this crazy week. Our oldest has been much more nervous and on an emotional edge since Monday. She also got some bad mosquito bites when we were outside Monday afternoon and evening. They both got colds and congestion from our afternoon and evening outside. It has especially made it hard for our littlest to breathe easily and to sleep well.

It’s hard to know what is going to happen next. Classes have been canceled through today (Thursday). We’re not sure if we are going to have them tomorrow. Today, people seem to be getting back closer to ‘normal’ life. We still have some ‘go’ bags packed by the door in case we have to run out again. Hopefully we don’t have to use them!

As you can see throughout this email, many things were ‘fortunately’ happening for us this week. We recognized that these were gifts from the Father to help us through this time. For us the tense time seems to be winding down. For many others they are still in the chaos and destruction. We have some good friends going up to help with the medical and relief efforts. It is so bad in some areas. Please lift them up as you remember us over here. Praise Him that we just heard this group of friends was able to help pull 5 live people from the rubble in the last day!! Miracles are happening in the midst of the tragedy.

Grace and Peace,

N e a l - K a t i e - H a n n a h - L y d i a

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