11 March 2005 - Eric

In his press conference at the Pendopo on 11 March 2005, Indonesia’s
Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare, Alwi Shihab declared March 26th the
end of relief and the beginning of reconstruction efforts in Aceh Province. He said
that the government of Indonesia is deeply touched by the outpouring of
generosity and contribution of all international community as well as Indonesian
people. He extended his appreciation to not only UN agencies but also non-
government organizations, local and foreign, which have assisted in alleviating
the suffering of the people of Aceh.

And there are certainly a good many top-notch people from many organizations
doing a great job busting their ass everyday to get this place back decent.
Indonesian agencies, local Acehnese groups, foreign international organizations
public and private, governments military and metropolitan and all manner of
religious sponsored groups have come together well with unique contributions
according to their strengths.  I congratulate their success in completing
milestones on the plan to recovery.

I have been fortunate to be able to cover many areas of Aceh in short time and
get a general feel for the overall picture. Recently, I rode down the western coast
to Lhok Nya to check out the destroyed cement factory and offer what little I know
of concrete batch plants. I crossed several temporary single-lane Bailey Bridges
of British military design. The original iron trusses sat twisted a ways upstream
and half under water. The portable Bailey Bridge, which comes delivered by
truck, is a series of truss members and pins assembled with a crane. Those
bridges are good examples of a timely world response to the disaster and will
obviously be valued tools in cleaning up and replacing four hundred kilometers
of key coastal highway. Here’s to whoever built them.

Of Indian Ocean regions affected by the tsunami, Aceh’s western coast near and
facing the epicenter of the quake appears to have taken the hardest shot. From
Aceh south uncountable thousands of ships, boats and craft of all sorts were
swept inland and destroyed along with everything else. The earth along this
stretch of coastline was deeply carved and according to locals moved inland an
average of fifty meters. The topsoil was removed and the rest churned up leaving
soil ranging from washed coarse sand near the coastal edge to thick layers of
clayey silt in the flood-affected areas to down right fine sludgy goo at the high
water mark. Bulldozers and track hoes are starting to make a dent in removing
the debris along the more visible areas. Some vast areas have been cleaned,
grubbed and bulldozed and knock you over with the stench of organic
decomposition in the soil.

At two and a half months since the tsunami, refugee camps are still everywhere
but temporary barrack housing is springing up throughout villages across the
province and slowly the people are creeping back one village at a time. The
barracks are welcome relief but some of the 420,000 displaced persons who
have lost everything fear having to live in barracks permanently. The villagers are
pretty robust about rebuilding things.

Yesterday I visited with members of Azhari’s village Lampulo, which used to be
the heart of the provincial fish market. It is located in the city of Banda Aceh a few
kilometers inland on Krueng Aceh river inlet. Some three hundred people are
just getting back to the area and have been laboring intensely to remove debris
and locate ditches, roads, wells and foundations. They use as sleeping and
praying quarters a single large tent pitched upon the cleared broken foundation
of their once beautiful mosque. Trucks of an international aid group delivers
drinking water from GE’s water treatment plant on Lueng Bata to bladders
draped over a slab of concrete. It often gets used up in between deliveries and
so people continue to make water runs and use the filters I have delivered. The
Katadyn filters were Aaron and Eddie’s brainstorm and have turned out to be a
userful and practical way to provide drinking water for people during transitions
from rescue to relief to reconstruction. Bringing as many as we could carry was
also a good decision.

Yoss, Rizal and I delivered a tent to Lampulo today with Pak Mahdi in his tiny
Suzuki pickup. Lampulo’s boats are strewn about everywhere you look and many
still have not moved since the tsunami. The repairable ones are being laid out
and sorted in areas where buildings used to be. I saw a bunch of men cheerfully
push a nine-meter boat up a dirt embankment over old tires and tsunami pieces
and back into the water where it belongs. I saw one plastered into the second
story of a big house.

Abdul Hamid, Sea Commander for Lhok Krueng Aceh has just completed a
summary of fishing boat devastation and will offer an industry reconstruction
plan as part of Alwi Shihab’s master plan to be presented to the Indonesian
cabinet in two weeks. Lampulo’s members have met to discuss their future.

In Krueng Raya the joined gadings and lunas of ten boats await the next
shipment of wood, which is said to be a few days away. Many transports near
Lamteuba get military escort and with the demand on wood these days things
are moving a little slowly. Meanwhile, the crew is shaping up the work site and
just built a little shed to hold the generator and tools.

Yesterday was the holiday of Nyepi where the entire island of Bali traditionally
remains unlit for the night. The streets of Banda Aceh seemed quiet for being a
Hindu holiday.

Tonight there was a nice little quake that rocked us and left the building swaying
for a few seconds afterward. It was enough to send most folks outside laughing
and waving their arms and looking up and down for a while. I stood on the deck
with my rope coiled and repel rig taught.

Eric Lyman
Banda Aceh, Sumatra
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16 April 2006 - Eddie

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10 February 2005 – Eddie

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4 February 2005 – Eddie

2 February 2005 – Aaron

1 February 2005 – Eddie

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