Tsunami Disaster Relief
Food for the Hungry
EMI Project 5382
Photos and Documents
Team Meeting (.jpg)
Team Surveying (.jpg)
City Flooding1 (.jpg)
City Flooding2 (.jpg)
Destroyed House (.jpg)
From Project Leader John Boldt, PE
As I’m writing this letter I’m high above the Pacific Ocean on a flight from Singapore to San Francisco. I’m returning from my 26th Engineering Ministries International (eMi) short-term trip. This trip to Meulaboh, Indonesia was unlike any of the other trips I have led over the last 17 years. Our Team of 6 engineers, 4 of which were Agricultural Engineers and included 2 Ph.D’s, were responding to a request by Food for the Hungry (FHI), a Christian organization, that were providing disaster relief on the west coast of Indonesia.
Meulaboh was one of the hardest hit areas from the December 26, 2004 earthquake and the resulting Tsunami waves. Meulaboh was a city of 120,000 and about 1/3 or 40,000 lost their lives from the super waves that hit the coast. Our project area of about 65 acres was a village within the city that was directly on the beach area and the fatality rate was no doubt much higher. The village contained a large city marketplace and a busy fresh fish market. It was a haunting feeling to walk the streets within the village knowing that thousands of people had died there when the waves, some 50 feet high, swept over the area. The survivors all have memories of how they survived the turbulent waters and how their loved ones were swept away. All but a few of the more substantial home and business’s were destroyed. Survivors have been living these last 7 months in tent cities nearby but some families have started to move back into the village and are living in primitive conditions. FHI is spearheading an effort to rebuild that area so that World Vision can build 250 new homes in the village. In the meantime FHI has programs to reestablish small businesses with micro loans and provide some educational opportunities for small children. One of the FHI projects sponsored by the City of Phoenix, AZ was to buy 100 new rubber tired rickshaws for those destroyed by the waves. These rickshaws are not only used to haul people, but all sorts of goods including the proverbial kitchen sink (I saw it with mine own eyes!).
The challenge for our eMi Team and the reason FHI requested our technical assistance was the severe tidal flooding most of the village was experiencing. At normal high tides, ocean water was covering most of the roads and home sites. The flooding has caused an unlivable and very unhealthy situation that must be corrected before redevelopment can occur. It soon became apparent that the problem was a result of the settlement of the land caused by the massive offshore earthquake. Some reports indicate that settlement along the northwest coast of Sumatera, Indonesia was between 3 to 6 ft. Our investigation found that settlement in the village area was approximately 2 ½ feet. During our information gathering stage we met with several local government officials including the mayor of Meulaboh and took testimony from many of the survivors. FHI was a great host in that they always had transportation and interpreters for us. Being sensitive to the fact that this part of the Aceh providence was mostly strict Muslims and previously closed to Christians, we had to be careful of our speech and let our actions reflect the love of Jesus that led us to volunteer for this work literally ½ way around the planet from Columbus, IN (12 time zones different-talk about jet lag!!!).
Our team studied various alternatives to the flooding problem, including:
Do nothing - unthinkable
Condemn the village and relocate to higher ground - unlikely
Diking and pumping - unreliable and long term operation and maintenance cost
Partial filling of the area and homes on stilts - unhealthy environment
Demolishing remaining homes and filling the whole area - expensive but most reasonable
Once we complete our Report, FHI will be submitting an estimated $3,000,000 Funding Proposal to the United Nations who are coordinating the disaster relief in the tsunami area. If funding is approved, eMi may be requested to provide more detailed plans and long-term construction supervision. So it’s been an exciting 11 days so far.
So it has indeed been another memorable eMi trip and one that I could not have served as Team Leader without your prayers and financial support. Your prayers for our safety and health were very much felt and appreciated.
Original Project Scope
On December 26, 2004, the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami destroyed 80% of the infrastructure of the city of Meulaboh, Indonesia in the Aceh Province. In cooperation with the local provincial government, FHI is providing rehab programs for Ujong Baroh, a village within Meulaboh (roughly 65 acres).
Prior to the tsunami, a network of drainage channels conveyed surge water from seasonal rains, flooded rivers, high tides and saturated soils out of the area, which allowed the village to develop. Hundreds of homes and businesses existed here; only a few survived.
Due to the tsunami, the existing drainage system has been damaged. There has been significant movement of sediments. The top meter of soils are saturated marsh deposits and have been eroded or displaced. Five months after tsunami inundation, standing water is visible up to a meter deep where homes once existed. Bimonthly tides inundate the entire project area and water movement in the canals is seen daily with tides. The dramatic change to the previous topography and saturation of soils demands greater capacity than the former system.
eMi has been invited by FHI to prepare for rebuilding in this village by addressing the design of new drainage systems and facilities that can manage the newly created conditions. Homes and businesses will not be rebuilt until the drainage network can be redesigned and constructed. Drainage of the community will also reduce the potential health risks present in the area. Household wells have been contaminated by brackish water and the disaster has flooded septic tanks, mixing effluent with tidal water.