Salvation Army reponse to Orissa emergency

The Salvation Army Emergency Relief Team, which is assisting in the Orissa crisis, is currently based at a convent school in Paradeep (a port and industrial town). Major Lalngaihawmi and Major Mahr (SAHSAC Team) recently visited the area to assess needs and to observe the team at work.
On the way to Paradeep, the majors noticed there was a lot of devastation and that the homes and shops of the poor people were the hardest hit. Power, telephone lines and some communications towers were down.

The paddy was still standing but the officers were informed that the crop would not form grain because it had been submerged for so many days - and mostly in salt water.

Life is gradually returning to the area. The majors saw men, women and children bathing and washing clothes in the canal which, just a few weeks ago, was littered with human bodies and animal carcasses. One barber had reopened for business with the wooden chair that was his sole remaining piece of furniture. Many people were engaged in sorting out their homes and shops and clearing and cutting up the fallen trees.

The Emergency Relief Team was at work in a village called Ambikiya - which is about two hours away from Paradeep. The road to the village was swept by a 15-foot tidal wave and some of it has been reduced to a barely passable track.

Ambikiya is at the end of the road, though about 10 further villages can be reached either on foot or by boat. All along the road there are government and non-government organisations providing relief and many more come in each day to make a distribution. At the village itself there is a makeshift hospital which can accommodate about 10 patients at a time. This had been set up and operated by eight young doctors from Pune. The doctors returned to Pune at the end of November, hoping that Salvation Army personnel would replace them and continue the work.

Alongside medical work, there is a great need for psychological and emotional care and rebuilding of the infrastructure. The people need to be educated about personal hygiene and health and it is thought that pastoral care should be made a priority.

AUTHOR: Major Theodore Mahr

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