Sunday, May 3, 2015

Local man describes conditions in Nepal

Former Tri-lakes resident, Nepal factory owner, and Air Force Academy Graduate Corban Bryant, said his family and employees are holding up, despite the dire circumstances in Kathmandu, and offers suggestions on how to help.
As the first supplies of food aid began reaching remote, earthquake-shattered mountain villages in Nepal, thousands clamored to board buses out of Kathmandu, either to check on rural relatives or for fear of spending yet another night in the damaged capital. 
"In general, the best way to help now from the U.S. is to give. We've set up a fund through YWAM in Colorado Springs and people can give directly to us through this link," says Lewis-Palmer High School Alum Corban Bryant, reached Saturday morning in Kathmandu, Nepal, via email.
"Thanks for checking in and thanks for the offer of help."
Bryant describes his experiences so far:
"The day of the quake, we initiated our staff phone-chain, while most of the team leaders rushed out to areas with collapsed buildings to help search for survivors. One of our sewers had attended a first aid training at Purnaa.  These trainings are surprisingly uncommon in Nepal. Immediately after the first shocks he was able to rescue two people from the rubble and provided first aid to at least eight people," Bryant said.
"By evening, we were able to contact about 80 percent of our 32 staff by phone. The next day we were able to verify everybody was safe either by phone or by driving motorcycles to their homes. None of our staff had collapsed houses, so we asked them to shelter in open spaces near their homes with family and neighbors for the first three nights. Most neighborhoods quickly set up community make-shift tents with tarps in gardens and fields."
Palmer Lake Business "Beautiful & Beloved Boutique" owned by Amber Newberry sells products produced in Purnaa, Bryant's factory in Nepal, said she had spoken with Corban prior to Thursday, and employees at the Purnaa factory were generally fairing OK, considering the circumstances.
"The next couple days we spent our time looking for ways to help around town. This resulted in assistance to an orphanage that borders our sourcing manager's home. The staff had abandoned the children there with the guard and the cleaning lady, who were quite overwhelmed. We were able to set them up with good shelter and supervision until we were relieved by an NGO that funds the home.  A handful of our team leadership attended a quick, unofficial class with a visiting architect who offered an earthquake damage assessment training," Bryant said.
"On Tuesday, we called all of the staff to our facility. We cooked food, processed traumatic events together, paid out emergency spending money, and did a quick needs assessment with everybody. Among our group, there were three deaths to extended family, many unaccounted extended family, and several serious injuries to close family. Although it was the third day after the quake, nearly everybody was too afraid to go back into their homes, and many did not have good shelters in their neighborhoods. Food prices had escalated and many of the tent areas did not have good drinking water or toilet access. We scrounged tarps, plastic, mats, and blankets and set up tents for those who did not have good shelter near their homes (about 20 people.)," he said.
"Yesterday we invited all the staff to the office for food again. We worked on trying to get cash to pay monthly salaries on time. Most banks have just re-opened yesterday and are limiting cash. We also ran around town visiting employee houses to check for significant structural damage. Fortunately, it appears all but a few will be able to move back into their homes tonight."
One of the biggest challenges has been scarcity of tarps. 
"It's rained Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. All the relief agencies heading into the heavily affected areas to the North are also scrambling to find them. A second challenge is that banks didn't re-open until yesterday and now they are limiting cash withdraws. We want to pay monthly salaries to our staff today because they need more emergency cash. We can deposit in their accounts, but they'll have to wait in lines at ATMs to get it out," Bryant related.
"Fortunately, we're in an area of town where power was restored in about 48 hrs. Without this, we'd have no phone battery or internet access. Most of Kathmandu is still without power."

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