Friday, August 28, 2009
Morakot Watch pt 3: Mud and Mess
Winding through the small Taiwanese town, the narrow streets showed some signs of poverty, but hardly a hint of disaster. I was almost disappointed. Other than a toppled palm here and there, I could see no sign of Typhoon Morakot.
At the entrance to a bridge, our small blue truck was halted, then waved through by the military personal directing traffic. My Taiwanese driver spoke in Mandarin Chinese: "Do you know why we were invited through?" Before I could respond, he pointed at the school-bus yellow safety vest ad matching rainboots I was issued back at the relief center.
Immediately upon crossing the bridge, the roads changed from dry and dusty to wet and muddy. We stopped once so a lady could pick up her fallen scooter out of the thick muck. As the truck rolled further down the road, water rose higher than our hubcaps.
But at a week and a half after Morakot made landfall, the water in the streets was not directly from the sky. This was one of the mudslide sites. And the murky water filling the road gushed out from inside the homes of the residents lining the street.
Armed with shovels, brooms, and any other tool that might do the trick, the relief teams filed into the houses and workplaces and began pushing, scooping and sweeping the mud and water out of the building. In some places, mud as high as four feet coated the entire first floor of each home.
As time went on, I could see on the tired, loss of hope grow on the victim's faces. It's as if their strength recedes with the water leaving their houses; what's left, a mud-covered shell and the realization that this won't be going away any time soon.
For me, that was the hardest part about being down there. Knowing they were still surrounded by mud and water in their broken home. CNN has long since considered this "Breaking News" but it'll be their reality for months to come.
I applaud, though, the CCRA for the helped they offered. What a well-oiled machine! To be able to mobilize 200-500 volunteers every day, truly remarkable. Five days in PingTung was a great choice for me. I met some great people down there, and got to get my hands dirty and hopefully give back to Taiwan some of what it's given me over the past year.
Keep the Morakot Victims in your mind and prayers. It's still a mess down there, and will be some time until all is well in their life again. And may we look at what we have and what we consider necessary, and remember what truly matters most to us along this Journey's trail.