December 29, 2004
Posted: November 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm
UPDATE FROM CHRIS AND CHRISTINA: 12/29/04
Before we get started with the update, let us just describe some of the islands involved and their locations relative to each other and the epicenter of the quake:
Simeulue Island Chain:
Northern most island chain off the west coast of Aceh. Located 50 – 100 miles south of the earthquake epicenter.
Banyak Island Chain:
99 small islands, southeast of Simeulue Island Chain, in Aceh Province, 100 – 150 miles south/southeast of the epicenter. This Island chain is probably what protected mainland West and South Sumatra including Padang, from disaster.
Includes the Island of Nias, and surrounding smaller islands. Locate in the North Sumatran Province, approximately 300 miles southeast of the epicenter. Nias is south of the Banyak Island Chain.
Group of approximately 10 – 12 Islands, about 10 – 15 miles off the west coast of Nias, in the North Sumatra Province.
Island chain 40 – 90 miles southeast of Nias Island, approximately 400 miles southeast of the epicenter, in the North Sumatra Province.
Mentawai Island Chain:
This is the longest Island Chain in Sumatra, located approximately 40 miles from the southern end of the Telos. The Mentawais stretch approximately 200 miles in a southeast direction, parallel to Mainland West Sumatra. The Mentawais lay in the West Sumatran Province, approximately 550 miles southeast of the epicenter.
Capital of West Sumatra, located on the west coast of Sumatra approximately 100 miles east of the Mentawais and approximately 650 – 700 miles southeast of the epicenter.
Now on to the update: it’s now Dec 29 in Padang. We are trying to organize charter boats to take supplies up to the smaller chains that were damaged by the tsunamis and quakes. It has been quite difficult because many boats are receiving the normal off-season repairs and are not able to depart. Engines, generators, etc. are being overhauled and mechanics are working overtime to put everything back together to get them out to sea.
Surf Aid in Padang has kept in constant contact with updates.
Indies Trader II is working overtime to get itself ready to commit to a journey to the region. Through the efforts of Bruce Raymond, Martin Daly, and Quiksilver International, thousands of dollars have already been donated.
Jan 10th is the first projected date the Trader II can leave Padang. Permits must be issued by the Indonesian Government, and coordination with other Aid Relief organizations must be established before any boats can depart.
Word from them is that they will have their water maker going full time and be giving lots of fresh drinking water to all.
Batang Arau Hotel:
We are one of the many businesses in Padang that is accepting donations for relief efforts. Indonesian radio and Television have broadcast that the surfing community in Padang is trying to get boats and supplies to the more remote areas off the coast of north Sumatra, and any donations can be left at our hotel in Padang. In addition, please read below about how you can donate to our reps in Australia and the U.S. and they will pool the donations to send to us.
We see the same news coverage the rest of the world is viewing – it’s shocking. Indonesian television broadcasts a much more graphic version of the disaster from the major places hit, but the more remote islands and villages that are only accessible by boat have yet to be reported on. Those are the places we are focusing on. The footage of Aceh is incredible.
Here are some of the latest reports for the areas that Sumatran Surfariis visits (if the graphic below is not playing when you view it, please refresh/reload the page):
The Padang Harbor Master has announced it is too dangerous for boats to travel out of Padang for the next 2 days.
Most reports coming from the Mentawai Islands are positive. The sea is rising and falling as it has been for the last few days, but at a much slower rate. Many coconut trees and logs are drifting around the strait, which makes traveling at night, at sea, dangerous. All land camps on the Mentawais have reported no damage and no loss of life.
We are getting mixed reports from Nias Island. The northern and western coasts were severely damaged, heavy flooding, and deaths. These areas are remote, low lying and poor.
Reports on this island chain are varied, as well. As of 7:30pm tonight, the island of Bawa, a southern more protected island of the Hinako Island Chain, is reported to be ok. News coming from Teluk Dalam, the southernmost village on Nias Island, reports many deaths throughout the Hinako Island Chain. Most recent news is that Asu is also ok. Max and Stu told us that the Hinakos Hideaway land camp was evidently spared the full wrath of the tsunamis but severely flooded. The staff evac’d by boat as the water levels began to rise. No assessment yet on the material damage to the resort.
We’re still learning new info everyday, but in some areas, we just don’t know. We will keep you informed of the latest developments as we get them.
Sumatran Surfariis is accepting any donations that would like to be made to help in the relief effort. We are trying to organize boats, crew, and supplies, however even for simple aid, the costs can be high. Those of you that have been to these islands know they are remote, fragile, and in desperate need of aid in the best of times. This tragedy has increased the need dramatically.
We ask that any American donations be sent ASAP to:
3302 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94118 USA
Any Australian donations sent ASAP to:
77 Koornalla Cres
Mt. Eliza, Victoria 3930 Australia
Adam Kobayashi (AK) will be giving anyone who donates $25 or more a DVD of his newest unreleased movie that includes tons of good footage from recent travels to these beautiful islands, so please include your name and address in the letters to Danny or Hal.
Please make out your checks in the names of Danny or Hal. Danny and Hal will then transfer the donations to us in Padang where we are purchasing the supplies. We are currently buying soap, shampoo, plates, cups, candles, matches, sleeping mats, rope, silverware, flashlights, batteries, sarongs, towels, medicines, water, containers, material, cloths, food, and much more. The amount of villages that have been destroyed are vast, and in remote areas where larger aid organizations have not focused on. Any donation you can make will be greatly appreciated. We will try our best to get to as many as we can.
Thank again for all the concern and calls. All of us here in Padang feel very lucky to have been spared, and are trying our best to get the correct information out to you. Keep checking the website for any updates. www.sumatransurfariis.com
Terima Kasih / Thanks!!!!
Chris & Christina
MORE ON RELIEF AND DONATIONS
Hello to all. As things continue to evolve and new information and stories become available, we want to keep you informed of our latest findings. First, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has expressed their concern for the folks in Indonesia and the surrounding islands of the Indian Ocean. We have received MANY emails and calls from those interested in donating funds toward the relief of those affected by the quake and subsequent tsunami. We thought it might be important to create a separate page dedicated to our fundraising efforts and how those funds are being used.
We have a couple of new options for making donations. You can now make donations directly to Indonesian Development of Education and Permaculture” (IDEP) at www.idepfoundation.org (more on them in our 12/31 update). Also, you can still send donations to Scuzz’s Dad Hal in Australia and our U.S. Rep/Partner Danny Siudara. They are serving as regional collection centers to pool the funds and send them to Padang.
If you send a donation via check or money order to Danny or Hal, please make them out Danny or Hal at the following addresses.
Any American donations be sent ASAP to:
3302 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94118 USA
Any Australian donations sent ASAP to:
77 Koornalla Cres
Mt. Eliza, Victoria 3930 Australia
Well concealed cash will also be accepted, but we do not recommend sending cash in the mail.
Lastly, for donations that need to be tax deductible we recommend that you make your donations through the Clean Ocean Foundation, www.cleanocean.org. Please make sure to note that your donation is for the Sumatran Sufariis Relief Effort and include your address info in order to receive you receipt and DVD when AK gets back.
There are a few ways of donating through Clean Ocean. The first is an electronic bank transfer. Here are Clean Ocean’s bank details:
Account Name: Clean Ocean Fund
You can also make a donation via check. Their address for check donations is:
Clean Ocean Foundation
PO Box 810
Mornington VIC 3931 Australia
Dawn Forrest is our point person at the Clean Ocean Foundation, and when you make a donation you can forward your details (name, address and the amount of the donation) by the following methods:
Email to: email@example.com
Mail to: Dawn Forrest, Clean Ocean Foundation, PO Box 810, Mornington VIC 3931 Australia
Fax to: Dawn Forrest, Clean Ocean Foundation, +61 3 5973 6799
Phone: Dawn Forrest, Clean Ocean Foundation +61 3 5973 6788
Dawn with then post a Tax Deductible Receipt out for your taxation purposes. We’ve worked with the Clean Ocean Foundation for quite some time. Be sure to check their site, www.cleanocean.org.
We’re not waiting for donations to get started on our relief effort, however. We are currently buying soap, shampoo, plates, cups, candles, matches, sleeping mats, rope, silverware, flashlights, batteries, sarongs, towels, medicines, water, containers, material, cloths, food, and much more. The amount of villages that have been destroyed is vast, and larger aid organizations have not focused on these areas in because they are in such remote locations. The Padang Harbor Master has informed us that we should be able to leave tonight to begin providing relief and aid to these areas. We are coordinating our efforts with Bruce Raymond, Martin Daly, and the folks of the Indies Trader/Quiksilver travel, who’ve already organized thousands of dollars in donations. They’ve informed us that they will have their water maker going full time and be giving lots of fresh drinking water to all. This is HUGE because many of the wells which stored fresh water have been polluted from the tidal waves, and disease such as cholera and typhoid thrive in a salt-water environment.
RELIEF UPDATE: 12/31/04
Hello all. It’s now 7:30pm in Padang on New Year’s Eve, and our relief effort is in full swing.
The aid organization “Indonesian Development of Education and Permaculture” (IDEP) arrived today at the hotel in Padang. Two team workers, Lee Downey and Sam Schultz, brought 10 suitcases filled with medical supplies with them from Bali. They helped us get together a list of more medicines we needed to buy from local pharmacies. Scuzz and Alyssa (Scuzz’s sister), together with a local doctor from Yos Sodarso Hospital here in Padang, bought boxes of masks, medications, and equipment.
Christina is working with IDEP representative, Petra Schneider, to keep aid money coming in to supply the boats with supplies they may need. IDEP is working with Microsoft to put together an online donation facility. Please log on to www.idepfoundation.org for more details and updates. They have set up a PayPal link so you can make quick, reliable donations. As stated in the first update, you can continue to make donations to us here at Sumatran Surfariis directly by sending funds to our reps in Australia and the United States, but donating to IDEP is a quicker and more direct route.
One boat is going out at 9:00pm tonight, fully loaded with all we can buy here in Padang. Another boat is going out tomorrow morning, also fully loaded. (editor’s note, both boats have set sail by the time I could get this update on the site) There have been some inquiries by parties interested in making donations as to which islands we will be visiting. The areas we are trying to hit are the outer lying islands off the coast of west and north Sumatra. Here is a recap of the island chains:
Simeulue Island Chain:
Northern most island chain off the west coast of Aceh. Located 50 – 100 miles south of the earthquake epicenter.
Banyak Island Chain:
99 small islands, southeast of Simeulue Island Chain, in Aceh Province, 100 – 150 miles south/southeast of the epicenter. This Island chain is probably what protected mainland West and South Sumatra including Padang, from disaster.
Includes the Island of Nias, and surrounding smaller islands.Located in the North Sumatran Province, approximately 300 miles southeast of the epicenter. Nias is south of the Banyak Island Chain.
Group of approximately 10 – 12 Islands, about 10 – 15 miles off the west coast of Nias, in the North Sumatra Province.
Island chain 40 – 90 miles southeast of Nias Island, approximately 400 miles southeast of the epicenter, in the North Sumatra Province.
Mentawai Island Chain:
This is the longest Island Chain in Sumatra, located approximately 40 miles from the southern end of the Telos. The Mentawais stretch approximately 200 miles in a southeast direction, parallel to Mainland West Sumatra. The Mentawais lay in the West Sumatran Province, approximately 550 miles southeast of the epicenter.
Scuzz’s plan is to start in Siberut, the northernmost island in the Mentawais chain, then on to the Telos, Hinakos, and continue to work north from there. Many of these islands are so remote and consequently off people’s radar in terms of a relief effort, as the primary focus of Indonesian efforts seems to be on the Aceh region, the Andaman Islands, and the Nicobar Islands. We’ve formed many great relationships with the beautiful people of these regions, and we are proud to do what we can to help. Scuzz will be in constant contact with the home office Padang via satellite phone and radio to let them know what is needed and how they can get the supplies to them.
We are, of course, running into some obstacles along the way. We are having problems getting doctors to go out and properly administer the medications. The fear is that people will not know how to use them and over medicate. We need doctors that can speak Indonesian to be able to communicate and train others what to do.
So far, we’ve personally have received $20,000,000 rupia at the hotel and more than $2,000US from IDEP aid organization to help with our costs. In addition, Danny reports that many have begun to send funds his way and his Inbox has been stuffed with people expressing their concern and willingness to make donations. Specifically, Danny would like to send his thanks to Gary “The Dad” Schuberg and Mike “Dr. Kimura” Vann for their extraordinary generosity and enthusiasm to help those in need.
As you can see from the photos, our hotel has become a kind of base camp for aid. We are beginning to see donations coming in from the local community and larger local stores. Many places have given us cost price on what we are buying. Scuzz has also spoken to Greenpeace who is sending the Rainbow Warrior to Aceh at present. It’s all coming together, finally.
Thanks to all once again for all the help and concern. We are trying to get back to each person individually, however Internet connections are jammed which makes the ever-impersonal bulk addressed email the only way.
Once again…… thanks… and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
JANUARY 2ND UPDATE
Scuzz, his sister Alyssa (who has about 6 years medical training) and a group of local Indos headed out last night to the north of Siberut, Muara Sigep. Scuzz reported back to Christina at the hotel in Padang that thankfully there was no significant damage in this area; no trees down, no major water damage, no deaths. He is also continuing to investigate if any north facing areas south of this are open to need, such as Dua Mata, Sipora, Pagai etc. But so far, signs are very positive.
From Siberut, Scuzz traveled up the straight between the Tanah Bala and Tanah Masa islands in the Telo chain. There are many communities built here to help with the logging and as it is such protected waters, their places are built right on the water’s edge. If the tsunami had a strong impact in this area, it maybeen compressed by the small shallow straight and could have damaged this region. His reports to Christina are that all west villages on Telo are fine. There are a few more north facing and low lying villages that Scuzz wants to visit also.
Rick Cameron’s boat the Electric Lamb went up the west side (ocean side) to Nias with a crew as well, and surprisingly everything appears to be generally ok. Scuzz also headed to a bay in the northern area of Nias where a logging company is located. They reported water surging and flooding on 12/26/04, but nothing since. Again, this is very surprising and positive news. Scuzz and the gang received a refuel in Teluk Dalam, and will continue to head further north in Nias to the areas we have heard were significantly affected by the quake. They’ll be moving up as fast as they can, but will also be stopping to give supplies to the villages that need it.
Basically what Scuzz is doing is getting to the islands on our mid-sized boat charter boat, The Asia, and then slowing down and jumping off into the smaller speedboat to get to the villages. From there, he’s checking for injured people or damaged property. He has an extensive range of medicine, tarps, water, containers, noodles, rice, mats, rope, shovels, etc. ready to go if need be. So far in the more western and southern regions, fortunately, he’s seen little real damage. He then hops back in the speedboat back to ASIA and moves on. His biggest fear is running the engine. He says no problems as of yet, but power traveling like that for so far and so long can make the engines run hot.
As of last report, Scuzz was hoping to get Lahewa on the northwest tip of Nias before making another call, as word is the Electric Lamb is planning to go to the Banyaks. He has given him the number of the wartel there, plus his charts of the area, and has also organized Bidin to be on standby in Sibolga (a coastal town in northern Sumatra) with a boat and fuel. He is meeting Sam of IDEP in Sibolga to take them around that area and survey it. He also reports that Singkil is in need. There are many people moving south from the affected areas of mainland Aceh and they are running out of supplies and medical help in Singkil.
The biggest area of concern is the northern tip of Simeulue Island. We are getting mixed reports so far. This is the island chain closest to the epicenter. As long as the lower islands are okay, the boats out now will head there. The boats going out tomorrow will head straight there. Now that we know the Mentawais, Nias, Hinakos, and Telos pretty much okay, efforts can be made to send boats north from Sibolga. These boats can check the northern Sumatran coastline more easily from this area.
That’s about it from the field, but Christina has tons of news to report from the hotel, Padang, and mainland Indonesia. First, there have been some 60 earthquakes in the area since the tsunami. Yesterday at 1:35pm the US embassy called and asked Christina if she felt the 6.6 Richter Scale earthquake that just happened. They are checking with her all the time to see what’s going on. However, the news reporters don’t always get it right. For a chuckle, check out this report from the New York Times. It’s about 1% accurate, 99% hysterical.
The Hotel Batang Arau continues to serve as are base camp for Padang — Aus Aid, IDEP, Aussie Embassy are all here. We are working with local doctors, volunteers, the mayor, all charter boat operators and local boat operators. It’s amazing how everyone is pulling together, and the list of characters has continued to grow. We are now about 10 organization workers, 6 charter operators, 6 captains (more coming in tomorrow), 8 hotel staff, 12 Indonesian volunteers, many delivery men, local doctors, local boat owners… all operating on phones, fax, and computer. There are 3 phone chargers being used at all times, with a line of phones waiting. Dr. Dave Jenkins of SurfAid International is meant to arrive tomorrow to head out on a boat as well.
More medicine arrived today from IDEP Foundation in Bali, brought by Oded, a French volunteer living in Bali. Last night, after Scuzz left, the hotel was empty of supplies. Tonight, it’s full again. Volunteers spent the day filling individual buckets with rope, tarps, pots, pans, utensils, sandals, matches, etc., and all the while more people arrived to help. It’s all very inspiring. Tomorrow the banks open and hopefully we can get more money generated into this effort. It has been excellent response, but a holiday weekend… yikes!!
A bit of great news: Sam Green (the fella in this photo) is an Aussie surfer that had not been heard from since the quake hit. His brother Ben and best friend Matt came all the way over from Oz to see if the could locate him. We aren’t sure if there are any concerned folks at home reading this, but we are happy to report that he has been located today and is fine. Those happy stories keep us going. (editors note: since first reporting this story, we have found that our intial sources gave us false findings, and as of 1/6/05, Sam is still missing. However, we’d like to leave the paragraph alone as it accurately reflects our feelings at the time, and shows the ups and downs we go through daily. For the update on Sam, please see our 1/6 update)
Christina wanted be to pass along special praise to a couple individuals. A big thanks goes out to Mick Bakos, an Aussie surfer guest and friend of ours. He lives and works in Singapore — when IDEP asked if anyone could help get medications brought from Singapore, Chris called Mick, and Mick was on a plane the next day, Jan 1. He was bit hung over, but absolutely jumped at the chance to help. He is back in Singapore now – Jan 2. Good on ya Mick.
Christina also wanted to send out special thanks to Eddie Om, our co-founder. She reporst that he has been a true champion. This is nothing new, however, as Om has just been a LEGEND for this company every since he helped found it over 8 years ago. He has done everything that has been asked with the typical Om smile and laugh. He is truly one of our heroes.
That’s it for now, but we’ll keep you posted. Thanks again for all those who’ve called and sent letters to express your concern. It keeps us motivated, and we’ll continue to do our best to help those affected by this tradegy. Take care!
LATEST FROM CHRISTINA IN PADANG
(JANUARY 4TH UPDATE)
January 4, 3:30pm in Padang
Very successful day around here. Every single one of the volunteers deserves a medal. Most of them worked non-stop filling 300 large buckets with provisions. They opened every box they could and separated each one into supplies for individual families.
Each large bucket contains:
1 small bucket with handle for scooping water
10 match boxes
1 box mosquito coils
1 cooking pot
1 sanitary napkins 8 pack
2 packs cigarettes
1 pack cream detergent
1 bottle of shampoo
20 meters rope
Each family gets one full bucket. There are many more tools and supplies as well that will be giving to villages to share. I thought we would have bought out Padang by now, but there doesn’t seem to be a shortage.
Today a cargo boat was secured and paid for by IDEP. It was loaded, and, at last report, was leaving tonight. Tomorrow the charter boat Barrenjoey will leave for the islands, and the next day the charter boat Nusa Dewata can hopefully leave. There are so many changes on an hour-to-hour basis that it’s hard to be sure of what’s actually happening. Many captains from our charter boat community are calling from their home countries saying they will be able to be in Padang in the next few days. I have never seen our surfing community and our local community ban together like this.
Our garage is full of supplies for these boats. We couldn’t possibly fit any more supplies in there, but we managed to get a warehouse space for all supplies arriving tomorrow. Surf Aid’s Dr. Dave Jenkins arrived today and held a meeting with all the people involved in the relief efforts. Please check www.surfaidinternational.org for more information. Dr. Dave is trying to organize the rental of a section of the Dipo Hotel here in Padang to call base camp. They have storage, and large trucks can move in and out. This has gotten too big for our hotel.
I just got a call from Chris (Scuzz): its 2:00 am, and he is in Teluk Dalam. He found out Ovi, our crewmember from Nias, was at home visiting his village when the tsunami hit. He is okay, although he has many stories about what happened, all of them surreal.
Chris unloaded almost everything he had at Sirombu, a fishing village half way up the west coast of Nias. This village was hit hard. It sits between the ocean and a bay on a peninsula so they got hit by tsunami on one side and by flooding on the other. They had nowhere to run. Before the tsunami hit the village had approximately 100 fishing boats and canoes; now they have 4. This village survives primarily on fishing, so it has lost its only income. The town is severely damaged and they need our help.
Chris then checked on a village called Mandehe, just next to Sirombu. There was heavy damage there as well, with town nearly destroyed and 116 confirmed dead. Another village nearby called Teteswa suffered a similar fate: virtually destroyed, 227 confirmed dead. Yet another village called Sisarahili Dua was hit hard with many, many dead. All these villages are very near Sirombu. Chris is certain it goes all the way up the west coast of Nias.
He was on Asu at 9:00pm, Jan 3rd, and said it’s like a ghost town. Everyone left. They survived, but left scared. The main island of Hinako is where all the villagers from the other islands in the Hinako Islands group ran to. Hinako is running out of food. Donations are coming into Teluk Dalam, but mostly rice and noodles so all the people are eating only that. They have no money and no way of earning it since their boats were destroyed, so they only eat what is free… and the noodles and rice are free. This is leading to malnutrition, and diarrhea, and the sanitation problems. Chris is speaking to the heads of villages and trying to organize them to dig pits so everyone can go in the same place, but the complete lack of organization and fear is making it nearly impossible. They need someone to go out there and organize things – they have just lost everything, it must be impossible to think logically.
All villages are asking for fruit and veggies, building materials, tarps, ropes, shovels, canoes, outboard motors, nails, etc. I am transferring Rp 30,000,000 to a bank in Teluk Dalam tomorrow so Chris can stock up and head back to the villages further north on the west coast. He is sure they will be worse than what he saw today. One man lost 6 brothers and sisters in his family. His wife and baby were washed from his arms during the tsunami as well. I cannot even imagine. Chris sounded exhausted. He normally goes to these places to enjoy the surf, sunsets, and beaches.
We got a late update from Chris that “Lagundri has about Rp 400,000,000 worth of damage. One main area is ruined, though they are back in the village and surfing again today. The main restaurant is totaled. The biggest wave was at 4:00pm Dec 26, and everywhere they are saying if it had happened at night it would have been way worse. We tried to get lunch but there isn’t much here.”
Thank you for all your energy and support. Thanks to all the many volunteers and organizations. Many thanks to Bruce Raymond and especially Martin Daly (who sits all day at his computer and on both his phones pulling things together) for putting their full effort and financial support into what we are trying to accomplish. Thank you all for respecting Hotel Batang Arau, the staff, and our place of business. Petra from IDEP – you are truly amazing, and so unbelievably positive and uplifting.
We have never had to do anything like this before and it’s all a bit overwhelming. At any given moment there are 40 – 50 different people doing something in this hotel. Phones are ringing everywhere. We all know what everyone else’s phone ring sounds like and can yell for them personally – it’s wild. The energy level is intense, and it’s all positive. Everyone is so very positive.
Money is important. With the amount of stock going in and out, the local stores are willing to give credit, but not for long. It’s understandable. Boats need to leave here and get to these areas in Nias, and further up the island chains into the Banyaks and Simeulue. It cannot be good up there.
Once again. Terima Kasih,
JANUARY 6TH UPDATE
Firstly, a big thanks to everyone, and “everyone” is such a huge number of people now. This relief effort is amazing. All the support, energy, time, donations, phone calls – it’s unreal. We are amazed at all the countless volunteers that keep coming back every day to help, all the local businesses that empty their shelves of supplies, and all those who experience the exhaustion, the setbacks, and the unreal feeling when a boat is full of supplies and ready to leave for the islands. We are no longer speaking in terms of boxes. We are now speaking in “tons”: 100 tons of rice, 60 tons of fuel, 10 tons of clothes, no idea how many tons of tools – the numbers are shocking. It has been a tremendous effort, and we are making a difference.
Here is an update of the boats associated with our relief effort that have left for the field as of Jan 6, 8:00pm (Padang time):
Jan 1, the charter boat Asia left for Nias.
Jan 1, the charter boat Sembilan left for Nias.
Jan 1, the charter boat Electric Lamb left for Nias.
Jan 3, the cargo boat KM Sumbar Rezeki left for Nias.
Jan 4, the charter boat Barrenjoey left for Nias.
Jan 6, the smaller cargo boat Mentawai Indah left for Nias.
The first 3 boats that went out were stocked with instant relief supplies (these supplies have been detailed in previous updates). All three boats are all still out, and all have been completely emptied of supplies. The cargo boat Sumbar Rezeki had more than enough supplies to restock the 3 previous boats so they could continue their relief efforts survey. The Sumbar Rezeki arrived at Sirombu (half way up the west coast of Nias), which is the first part of Nias where Scuzz began seeing real damage. Tomorrow morning (Friday, Jan 7), a fuel tanker loaded with 60 tons of fuel will leave Padang for Nias. This will re-fuel any boats that need it.
Martin Daly’s Indies Trader will be going out soon as well. He will be sending outwo boats with supplies, one with staff and one with medical staff on a mobile trauma unit, according to the Cathay Seas Information Service. We would like to thank Cathay Seas Information Service for sending us these maps that give you a better idea of where each island is located, and the total damage assessed so far.
Scuzz has reported so much in the last two days that it’s hard to keep track of all of it. Since many of Sumatran Surfariis’ friends and family are surfers, I’ll use landmarks so you can get an idea of how significant the tsunami waves were felt on Nias. The most popular area in Nias, and the one you’ll see most often in the surf magazines, is called Lagundri Bay. In fact, when surfers speak of the famous right-hander the top of the bay, they often just call it “Nias”. However, there are actually two major waves in Lagundri: the famous right-hander at the top of the bay, and The Machine, which is a hollow left-hander further down in the deepest part of the bay.
The Machine is close to a road that is used to travel from one end of Nias to the other, and even on the fullest of tides, I’d say it’s at least 10-15 feet above sea level on the fullest of tides, and the water’s edge is probably 50-100 yards from the road at it’s closest. During the tsunami, the wave came OVER this road and into some of the buildings beyond it. A total of 10 houses are gone, some of the home stays are smashed, and it knocked down the old rock wall. Scuzz also reports that Sorake is surprisingly damaged, much more than he though it would be. The worst hit area, however, is right near the judging tower for the surf competitions. This tower was erected so that judges could get a full view of the right-hander that breaks along the top of the bay. Being near the top of the bay, this area is also a lot more exposed to swell. The tsunami broke at the Dolin Restaurant and into many of the houses and bungalows that line the water.
According to Scuzz, the kids were out surfing when the tides started moving up and down oddly. Because they are surfers and basically live in the water, they are quite familiar with what the sea is capable of, and they got the hell out of the water and warned the village. The villagers ran away from the beach. This is why there were not as many deaths as there could have been in a disaster like this. Those local surfers, many of them little kids, undoubtedly saved lives. Without their warning to the village of odd tidal movement, no one would have known, and the wave would have killed so many.
Scuzz says villagers reported seeing fish flopping on the beach. The biggest wave hit around 3pm (December 26th). It happened really quickly, and in approximately 20 seconds the wave came charging in. People ran, but they didn’t get far before the water caught up to them. Scuzz reported that 7 people were hugging 1 palm tree, holding on for their lives. All houses around that palm tree are destroyed. All boats anchored there went on their side on the dry reef right before the wave hit. According to stories told to Scuzz, you could see the reef on the outside where we surf on big days. Christina says she is hearing many stories, and she has learned the hard way to only rely on what Scuzz is reporting to her. For anyone who has not met Scuzz, he has an amazing rapport with the locals and is often the only one that any of them trusts.
A bit of sad news from Christina: “A few days ago I said that Sam Green, an Aussie from Adelaide missing since the tsunami, had been located. I was wrong. I said it before I actually knew for a fact that he had been found. I truly apologize to his family and friends for any misinformation I have given. He has not been located as of yet. His brother Ben, and his best friend Matt have been here, and were here when we got the news that he was okay. I think the relief combined with the full on energy of what we were doing at this hotel as far as getting boat supplies together, was why I reported it… I should never have said it without knowing FOR SURE. I have learned this lesson well in the last 7 days. I truly apologize and hope that he is found and is reunited with his family.”
Scuzz finally left Nias today, January 6th, to survey the Banyak Island Chain. His first reports are from a village he visited called Haloban (sp?). He says there are about 700 villages there, and roughly 130 were affected either by flooding, or tidal surges ruining their boats and fishing equipment. This village reported the first wave hit at about 8:30 am the morning of the 26th. The biggest wave hit at 9:00am.
One thing Scuzz says about every village is that they are all living as far away from the beaches as they can. They are scared of another wave. They are all still happy island people, but they just don’t trust the sea. All of these small villages have lost their way of life. Their canoes and small outboard motors are gone, and many of their fishing nets, hooks, and lines were washed away. Because of this fear, they are living off what is coming in as relief aid. They are not doing much fishing, and they are only eating rice and noodles. Any money they have they are keeping for fear of having to start over. They are very malnutritioned and need fresh fruit, veggies, and vitamins. Scuzz fears malaria and diarrhea will cause more damage than the actual tsunami in these areas. People are going to get very sick if they don’t get something else to eat besides rice and noodles.
Scuzz’s sister Alyssa is out with him on this survey. She has been amazing. She is going to have an actual account of everything that they have seen. She has taken tons of photos and has very good notes of what they saw. It should be very interesting reading for everyone when she returns. Her information will easily fill a whole book. She is the one to ask about medical and nutritional needs. She is a medical student at Sydney University and since the start of this journey she has treated several villagers and unquestionably saved lives. Some of the problems she is treating are malaria, Hepatitis A, Dysentery, and kidney infections, amongst others. One person she treated had an enlarged spleen at least 10 times its normal size. She is doing an incredible job. We can’t stress enough how much Scuzz appreciates her being there. What Scuzz and Alyssa are out there doing is amazing. They are seriously heroes.
Tonight members from Surf Aid International, Rip Curl, the IDEP Foundation and Martin Daly met to try and coordinate their efforts and work out a longer-term plan for aid and rebuilding these lives that were shattered. I am sure you can get the details from any of their websites on what was discussed. Scuzz was there as well, via speakerphone, for the whole meeting. Apparently, they all want him to come back to Padang, which elicited big sigh of relief from Christina.
One last update from here in The States: I wanted to report that Sumatran Surfariis’ own Adam Kobayashi (AK) and the Malloy Brothers threw a benefit yesterday (January 5th) in Ventura, CA. They all worked tirelessly to make this happen, and it was apparently a tremendous success. AK said they had a full house, but fortunately did not have to turn anyone away. There were videos, slideshows, beer, giveaways – all in the name of bringing aid to this area that is so special to us. When all was said and done, the event raised thousands for relief, and it inspired AK to fly over to Padang personally to see to it that it’s put to good use. Again, I’m so blown away by people’s efforts and generosity.
Christina wanted to also pass along her thanks to Chris, Alyssa, Martin, Bruce, Sam, Samantha, Lee, Oded, Jack, Charlie, Rina, Yossi, Elvis, Yossy, Andy, Wina, Dirk, Ovi, Odeck, Suzi, Petra (amazing), Oliver, the staff at the hotel, the countless volunteers, the amazing crew on ASIA, and all the probably 100 other people that she does’t know. If I added to the list, I would require another full page.
Thank you again to all, and best wishes. We’ll keep you posted.
JANUARY 9TH UPDATE
Hello everyone. We don’t have a full, formal update from our crew in Padang, but there are a couple points of interest I’d like to mention.
Cathay Seas Information Service is working with Howu-Howu, Surf Aid, IDEP, and Sumatran Surfariis to coordinate helicopter support to Nias, Simeulue, and the Banyaks. It is still a very hectic time in Indo and it’s tough to get everyone to get on the same page. But progress is being made, and expect to see a map of their efforts in the near future.
Also, concerned members of the Santa Cruz, CA surfing community will be hosting a benefit showing of Thomas Campbell’s recent surf movie Sprout on Thursday, February 3, 7:30pm at The Rio Theater 1207 Soquel Ave. (at Seabright) in Santa Cruz.
Much of Sprout was filmed in the hard hit areas of Sumatra and Sri Lanka. Also featured will be recent footage of tsunami damage to the islands near Sumatra. All funds raised will be split between Doctor’s Without Borders and the efforts of Sumatran Surfariis and our affiliated non-profit organizations. There will also be a HUGE raffle and surfboard auction. If you’re in the Santa Cruz area, please join them in helping to raise money and express our concern for the survivors of this tragedy.
For more information or to donate, please call Jonathan Steinberg 831 247-2323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about Sprout go to www.trimyourlifeaway.com.
And last but not least, some really good news, which is official now…
“hello there chris,
we dont know each other but my name is mirsad and im writing to you from adelaide, im good mates with Ben and Sam Green and im not sure if you guys have heard or not but Ben found Sam!!..we got a call from Ben at about 11am yesterday saying he had found ben on sipora or siberut, info was a bit sketchy coz the phone line wasnt good…but the good news is he has been found and they should be back in oz on thursday. when we got the call we asked if hes sure its Sam this time and he said yeah i am coz hes standing right next to me!!
the funny thing is sam didnt even know about the tsunami..Ben walked up to him on the beach where he was camping and Sam asked what Ben was doing there!!!..anyway everyone is soooooooo stoked that he is ok.
I rang your mum a few days back after checking out your website and getting the updates…she was very helpful and really nice to talk to so just wanted to say thanks to her and to you guys for keeping us up to date with how things are going over there..keep up the good work.
JANUARY 11TH UPDATE
SCUZZ IS BACK!
The following is sort of a play-by-play from Scuzz regarding his recent travels and relief efforts of the islands of northern and western Sumatra:
Well, there’s a lot to tell. I’ll start up in the Banyaks as I think the website has covered until then. We surveyed the north side of Tuangku Island, located at the northwestern end of the Banyak chain, and the most likely affected area of the 99 islands in this chain. We found a couple of fisherman on Jan 7th that we welcomed onboard the ASIA for the ride thru the shallow beautiful waters of this area. Their village’s name is Haloban. It is the biggest village in that area, and because it is quite protected and tucked away behind a couple of smaller islands, up to 50 villagers from smaller islands traveled there after the tsunami.
On Haloban we were given a guided tour by the kepala desa (village head) and saw the impact firsthand. Brick sea break walls had been knocked down, whole houses were actually moved 20 feet from where they originally stood (now standing on new land at new angles), and plenty of clean up still needs to be done. Small fishing boats and canoes had been thrown around; one had been smashed into two pieces. However, compared to Sirombu and neighboring villages in that area of Nias, there were no major injuries to villagers, no deaths, and no immediate need to drop all we had in supplies here.
The biggest need was to make sure food and supplies continued arriving to them as boats were not yet going from Singkil to Balai (Banyaks capital), and hence there was no distribution from Balai to all of the surrounding islands. We dropped off rice and noodles and headed for Balai.
Throughout this whole trip, villagers said they felt the quake around 8 am. As we moved further north, villagers said the quake was felt longer and more powerfully. In regards to the waves, all villages said the ocean started draining not long after the quake. While villages further south in Nias reported the biggest surge was between 3 and 4 pm, most of the Banyak villages reported the biggest surge was at 9 am. This means there was less time for people to get ready and evacuate, or at least run, before they were hit by the tsunami.
The capital, Balai, was less affected. We mainly heard stories of water rising, flooding, people being scared, and news of more water coming soon. The major problem we saw was that there hadn’t been any fresh supplies, and with the locals being afraid of the water (the two fisherman we picked up were the first to go back out fishing after the quake – this was their first day returning to the sea) they were going to face health problems if they didn’t get fresh supplies.
We reported this to Padang, and Christina followed it up. She has been so amazing. I know the fuel boat wouldn’t have gone without her. Martin asked Christina to arrange food and drinks for the Indies Trader 2, so Surf Aid International could get out to help with medical needs. Samantha from IDEP Foundation in Bali, along with Christina here in Padang, has been AMAZING. On the evening of the 7th, after an hour debriefing I gave to the aid organizations working in Padang, we were asked to check out the north of Nias and come home. Martin Daly asked me to take some time out and get a couple of barrels for all I had contributed.
We had wanted to check out the Aceh coast between Singkil and Tapaktuan, as this looked likely to be affected. This area has a gradually sloping sea floor, and from what we have learned from the affected areas so far this is what makes the wave stand up and build in power and size. We hadn’t heard reports from there, so Alyssa (my sister) and I were very keen to look. But after further review we agreed there needed to be some coordination before traveling to that area, and that we were best leaving it to the information center, run by IDEP Foundation out of the Hotel Batang Arau in Padang, to get the overall picture before venturing up there. This is how we were able to get so much done so fast. By focusing the aid where it was needed, we had covered a huge amount of ground quickly and accurately, as well as given the first aid to these areas. We did our best to relay support, kindness and knowledge to the villagers as well as keep Padang updated with accurate information on areas to assist.
We motored off on the 8th morning with the rising sun. These 99 islands in the Banyaks are shallow and full of dangerous waters, which make traveling at night difficult. We checked a couple of small islands on the way back and found the north coast of Nias to be relatively okay. Waves had come up about a meter to a meter and a half, but all ok – no damage and things as normal.
We met up with the large cargo boat Sumber Rezeki, chartered and supplied by IDEP Foundation for relief aid, as we came around the south west of Nias. Sam, an IDEP volunteer, came aboard to use our satellite phone, and discuss areas in need of aid. We passed on information about all we had seen and then parted ways arriving at Asu around 9pm. We learned that Oliver, captaining the charter boat Barrenjoey, had some doctors onboard, and, along with the Sumbar Rizeki, they had been giving supplies, medical care and support to all the areas badly affected on the Sirombu – Mandehe stretch of Nias coast. At that time, the Barrenjoey was in at Afulu. It was nice to know our reports back had made a difference and were followed up so quickly.
Next morning it was good for the crew to rest, I got up and had the first surf of the trip, happily noting that the wave at Asu (in the Hinakos) is still its perfect self. A couple of barrels and some great memories of surfing the point, overhead and completely alone, not one, boat, person or small boat in sight. I walked back along the land to check out the scene and was amazed to find even the Brazilian camp that lies very near the top of the wave at Asu was pretty much unaffected. The whole way down saw debris, but no ruin to houses. I found a fisherman and his wife at the end of the reef on the beach at Asu and asked if they had received aid or medical support. Unfortunately they had not, so Alyssa came in to do a full check up on the island.
I have been Alyssa’s interpreter for this trip, but on Nias, and especially these outer islands, you really need someone who speaks the local Nias dialect. Luckily we found a village woman that could translate my Indonesian language to Nias language, so I could translate it back to English for Alyssa to diagnose and administer treatment. Alyssa did a great job and the villages were incredibly thankful. We dropped off all sorts of supplies, food and fuel, and we left them in the happiest mood they’d been in for a couple of weeks.
After treating the local villagers at Bawa, Alyssa and I pulled up at the break, and I talked my sister into coming out for a paddle. She was pretty brave as it was well overhead, and after blowing me away by catching a good wave straight away, she scared the crap out of me by not appearing. I was looking and looking and eventually saw her, high-n-dry way inside on the reef. She hadn’t known how to pull off and drove my board up onto the reef, putting a nice big hole in it and a good-sized tattoo on her knee.
Teresa, the only local nurse, and here husband Roger are both Nias people that own a local surf camp on Bawa. They were a great help interpreting the unusually guttural Nias dialect. Alyssa was epic and the people were just stoked to be cared for. We also dropped off heaps of supplies and let the locals know that they are safe. We gave them nutritional info, and found they also had not yet received any food or visits from the local main town of Hinako.
We didn’t finish all the people in the afternoon, so we raced the mosquitoes out to see an amazing sunset, before dropping anchor at the north end of the island near Bawa Sawa. The wind started this night and blew out of the north – nothing huge, but constant. We dodged rainsqualls and went in to Bawa Sawa to give checkups to these people and drop more food, fuel and supplies. We were amazed at these people’s high blood pressure and similar symptoms.
The main problem on these islands is nutrition and diet. They explained that pigs on the island would eat any vegetables planted, which is why most fresh fruit and veggies are needed to be brought to the island. I asked if they could build a fence and they calmly explained, no, the pigs smash them down. It’s difficult for them to get fruit and veggies in the best of times, and now it’s difficult for them to receive rice and noodles. Without these deliveries they only have the basic food dropped by our boat such as noodles and rice to survive on. Aid boats coming out of the main island the Hinakos are needed to transport fresh food to them. So, there is definitely some long-term work here to do.
We then moved on to the fuel boat anchored off Bawa, refueled ASIA, and made our way back to Nias. We took the fuel boat captain, who has family in Sirombu, to see the damage in his home. The look on his face was shock and sadness. We organized our crew to offload all that we had while Alyssa and I walked thru town to check out how the aid was being used from our previous trip. Cleaning had begun slowly and there were signs of what the aid was doing. Tarps were up, makeshift shelters being constructed, a soup kitchen was up and supplying villagers with food, and some shops had food in them for sale. Roads had been cleared so cars could transport supplies to them, and we felt they were beginning to be self-sufficient again.
A Nias local, Ama Bram, kindly took us out to the village Sisarahili Dua, which is located on the beach just north of Sirombu — the village that had so affected us. This village had lost approx 116 people, and many houses were destroyed by the tsunami. We took the back roads along dirt paths to where the survivors had relocated, approx 3 – 4 kilometers inland, and saw a really different side: people happy and playing in lush green tropical Nias. We also saw the river that normally flowed through this area had carried the wave deep inland. Trees were down and their simple roads were now pooled with water more than a kilometer into the island. Banks of the river were pushed well back, and island debris was everywhere. It was visually obvious a huge amount of water had charged up this river, took out everything in its path, and permanently changed the area. Its signature was firmly etched well over a kilometer from the sea. As we got to the newly established village Sisarahili Dua, we saw aid had definitely arrived. Tents had been put up, villagers were cooking with supplies brought out on aid boats, rainwater was being collected in containers brought in, and the village children were playing soccer in the field.
This was our second time through this village. The villagers recognized us and were very happy to see us again. There was a new locally set up and run store of medicines with qualified nurses giving out what’s needed. All supplies were from donations. We gave them the rest of our medicine, and then Alyssa checked the refugee camp to administer aid and assess the overall health of the villagers while I met with the village heads to find out what they now needed in the form of aid relief and rebuilding. As with most places, they couldn’t believe it was not some big aid organization – just a surf charter with the help of their friends. This was great to see and we rode back with a very happy feeling. We had definitely made a difference.
The spit from Sirombu to the pier was now only about 5 feet wide in some places and, at this present high tide, was completely washing over. There was no way you could walk it and keep dry. This will eventually become an island in the near future, but now it is just very dirty water. A very small cut I received on the motorbike ride to the village last time we were dropping off supplies is now quite infected. It made us realize what the locals must go thru, and the infections they will be dealing with from the cuts and scrapes they got from the thrashing waves.
We finally got back to the boat. The wind that had been constant all day had picked up and the seas were quite large. ASIA surfed down big short swells, doing 10.5 knots. I was looking forward to handphone access in Teluk Dalam, but when we arrived at about 11pm, it was unavailable because extreme winds from the night before had blown a coconut tree onto the tower and damaged it. We said our thanks in Teluk Dalam, I got a shave from an old rusty barber, Alyssa had 100 kids practice English with her, and we left around 1pm.
We made the Telos before 6pm on Jan 10th, and we had a swim on the equator before taking the scenic beautiful path thru the waterways under what was a truly epic Indo sunset. Eating dinner in the Tanah Bala strait, we lifted up the tin boat and headed home. The morning saw us motoring into Padang with the whole line of volcanoes welcoming us back.
More details of our experience will come in our next update. We are trying to get all the info together and typed out. There is still much activity going on in Padang with boats and supplies, but we will do our best to keep more info coming.
Terima Kasih – Scuzz
JANUARY 15TH UPDATE
Eighteen days have passed since we started our efforts to help the outer islands with relief aid. We at Sumatran Surfariis are so very proud of everyone’s efforts and cannot believe the outpouring of emails and phone calls cheering us on. Thank you all so very, very much. It’s so inspiring to hear from everyone and definitely has kept us pushing forward.
ASIA, the original boat that left December 31 on its survey/relief trip, has gone out again to deliver more supplies to areas affected by the tsunami. The crew, god love them, are the same ones that went up with Scuzz originally. They deserve medals for their efforts. As a result, we’ve had to cancel any charters we had booked in February on ASIA, because we did not have time to put her up on dock for refitting. Anyone that has a charter booked on ASIA for February will get a total refund of any money they paid, or we will switch them to a later charter. It’s not many, but we still want to say sorry. However, we still plan to have a full season with ASIA after February, and a full-season on all of our other boats, despite the tragedy that has taken place.
On the evening of the 13th evening, our boat ASIA and the Makumbah left for Nias. AK is aboard ASIA and will be dropping off some helicopter fuel for professor Kerry Sieh of Caltech. Professor Kerry is the geologist that has been studying this subduction zone, and last year while in the hotel he left a poster and brochures predicting an earthquake with tsunami to be very soon. He gathers his information and comes to his conclusions through a variety of instruments set up on the outer island chains. His dedication to this project, as well as his knowledge of this area and plate tectonics, is frightening in an incredibly interesting way. We encourage you to review his findings for yourself on his site http://www.tectonics.caltech.edu/sumatra/. What he has learned from this will be invaluable in determining ways to protect ourselves here in Padang, as well as approximate time periods until the next big quake for this area. As far as this most recent quake, his preliminary findings are that the Nicobars have risen 3 meters and Andamans have dropped one meter. He has been out in the Mentawais and Telos for the last few days with the crew from the U.S. news show “60 Minutes”, studying the science of this phenomenon. It is just astounding stuff. He has secured a grant from Caltech for his surveys and we are behind him 100%.
Matt George (of Surfer Magazine), Bill Sharp (of Billabong), Tim Turner, and Dustin Humphries arrived in Padang almost one week ago. They simply had to do something to help with the efforts. They found doctors, as well as a charter boat they could rent (the Makumbah) to fill up with supplies and have since headed off for Nias, the Banyaks, and Simeulue to do what they can. ASIA followed closely behind with more relief supplies funded by Matt and Bill’s group. In addition, AK and his crew brought 5 200-litre barrels of helicopter fuel to aid in the distribution of relief items throughout Nias. Bill stayed behind to coordinate efforts and monies on the ground. They did this all on their own, funded by their own sources. They have been nothing but kind and positive to us at Sumatran Surfariis and Batang Arau Hotel. Well done guys!!!!
Matt, Bill, Dustin, and Timmy stocked their boat with fresh fruit and veggies, school supplies, soccer balls, fishing gear, cloths, water tanks, fresh water, and literally tons of other supplies, as well as live chickens and goats. They first unloaded in eastern Nias in Gunung Sitoli and over-landed the gear to the villages north of Sirombu. They will then move on north to Haloban (also spelled Aloban), the capital of the Banyaks, before moving even further north to concentrating on Simeulue and its west coast and outer islands. We are lucky to have them on board as they can bring things we knew needed to go out, but had not much more funding to supply.
Nias is now fully covered with relief aid and will eventually be just fine. They are very resilient people and even in the best of times we wonder how they survive. Many villagers are still afraid to come back down to their beachside villages, but with the help of IDEP and Sumatran Surfariis, the have received fishing nets, lines, hooks and other equipment to encourage them to get back to their fishing lifestyles. They had their livelihoods destroyed and were ready to start something new. However, now some are beginning to come back to the sea and resume their trade. Many say they can repair some of their small canoes that were damaged, which is so inspiring. They don’t just want the fish; they want to be able to catch it themselves. Just like the saying goes.
With Nias under control, folks like Matt, Bill, Timmmy and Dustin will focus their efforts on the Banyaks and Simeulue, AK and Alyssa will do their best to support their lead as well. Brian Williams (Willy), who owns a land camp on the southwest side of Simeulue, has brought us some photos of the damage to his camp. His small speedboat was sitting on the beach before the tsunami hit; now it is sitting in his front yard. His house has large cracks from the earthquake, the plumbing pipes have been damaged, and the front awning on his porch was nearly pulled off. He says all of this is fortunately repairable, and considers himself lucky to have come out so well. His camp still standing and, with the help of others, it looks good for this year’s operation as usual. You should check out their site at http://www.simeulue.com; it truly is a beautiful little camp and Willy is a great guy. He is now helping Matt George take his fully loaded boat up to the area to help with relief aid there.
We all understand that the biggest aid relief organizations are focusing on Aceh and surrounding areas, so we are just glad we could get to those that would have been missed. Right now, the cargo boat Sumbar Rizeki, which is jointly funded by IDEP and AusAid, is trying to restock supplies to help an area nearly destroyed by the tsunami. The name of the city is Calang, which is just south of Banda Aceh, and volunteers of IDEP are doing all they can to help those deeply affected in this area. Sam from IDEP is on board, and he reported two days ago the city is in dire need of aid and no one has been there. They are getting complete cooperation from the local police and authorities and have not once been asked to show permits or proper papers to allow them into the Aceh province. They are just happy to see any relief. Sam asked us to do anything we could to send another boat to that area, as the prices have gone way up to purchase aid relief in that area and are becoming scarce. The manpower and resources are hard to get at this end.
The volunteers from IDEP unloaded 20 tons of tents, mosquito nets, cooking sets, tools, jerry cans, water, rice, salted fish, milk and sugar from the Sumbar Rizeki to the devastated town of Calang. They were also carrying 30 tons of rice provided by WFP and high protein food donated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A doctor, nurse, and two operations staff also traveled with the crew to provided medical assistance to those in need. Calang, which had a population of 14,000 before the tsunami, has reported 6,000 people dead and 4,000 missing. They were just completely devastated. The town is located half way between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, so it’s been completely cut off since the tsunami swept away road access. Without the help of volunteers such as IDEP, they would be completely stranded – they are true heroes.
Surf Aid continues to work hard as well, primarily in the area of Nias. They’ve begun a project to vaccinate villagers and have sent all their doctors and supplies there. Their team of doctors and nurses has immunized more than 100 children in the Mandrehe district of Nias, and they have treated 35 patients for a range of illnesses, including malaria, respiratory problems and diarrhea. In addition, measles is their primary first response in any emergency situation because it is highly contagious and life threatening for children. If you catch measles, your immune system is lowered and then you are susceptible to other diseases. Their goal is to immunize all children between the ages of three months and 15 years. They are also working with the surf charter boat Huey which is due to carry more emergency rations for Hinako, Asu and Bawa islands, plus a further 8,000 mosquito nets, medical staff and supplies. Scuzz has also been talking with Andy here in Padang and they are really putting in long hours and hard work
The unselfish efforts do not stop in the Indian Ocean areas, however. For example, our friend Bayliss in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina printed up 15,000 business cards for us. They say “participate & follow Indonesia’s outer island TSUMANI RELIEF with Sumatran Surfariis”, and on the back it lists our recommended ways to make contributions. Bayliss also gave a presentation to the Surfrider Foundation a few nights ago and they agreed to help out. They are having a benefit on the 19th of February to help support our cause, and are asking all the donations be made out to the “Sumatran Surfariis Relief Effort”. It’s just a really, really extraordinary effort on his part, and we can’t thank Bayliss enough. Other star on the fundraising effort has been Dr. Michael Vann (as well as many other concerned members of the Santa Cruz surfing community). Mike has set up TWO fundraising efforts to support Doctors Without Borders, Sumatran Surfariis, and other NGOs involved in the tsunami relief effort. One fundraiser is related to his jiu-jitsu school, Claudio Franca Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is happening this Sunday the 16th. The other is a benefit at the Rio in Santa Cruz on February 3rd, where they will be showing Thomas Campbell’s film “Sprout”, as well as donating at least 10 surfboards and tons of schwag. There is more information about this on our January 9th update.
Back at the hotel, Christina says Scuzz goes through sad moments where he feels like he should be back out there doing what he started, and understandably so. He did not want to come back, but because he understood our local aid organization would continue on because of his efforts, he returned, but now he feels he could have done more (this editor thoroughly disagrees). I think if he had seen our local aid organization in action doing what he intended them to do, relief aid, he would not feel this way.
It’s all still continuing, however, and it will keep going on until all areas affected have been charted and relief has been sent. Scuzz has some other long term plans for the islands and will continue to do all he can to educate the villagers about what actually happened, as well as working out new ways to make their lives more productive. Some of his plans include getting canoes to villages that lost so many, and building protected garden areas to grow fresh fruits and vegetables that will be safe from animals (mostly the pigs) that ravage through everything. He has additional thoughts about how to educate the villagers about basic sanitation and nutrition.
Sam Green’s parents have sent very nice emails to Scuzz and Christina, and hold nothing against us for reporting he had been found before he actually had. The media hounded them and their family for days and we kept up the warnings to them to stay away from our hotel for fear of photographers and harassment. Sam is now safe at home with his family in Australia. We are all glad he made it back unhurt and we hope to meet him someday. We’ve left our report of Sam being lost, then found, then lost again, then found again up on the site for historical purposes, as it’s a perfect example of the ups and downs we encounter frequently in this relief effort.
The city of Padang and all the locals that have helped with our efforts deserve a standing ovation. We have all worked long hard hours every day, glued to our hand phones taking information and sending supplies where they are needed most. Efforts are still going on and more boats are still needed at the coastal villages of Aceh and Simeulue. Scuzz and Christina are always there to support anyone that would like to do anything to help. They are doing all they can and support anyone going out of Padang, whether its an organization, or just concerned people like Matt George, Bill Sharp, and their group. Martin Daly continues to be a star as well. It’s because of his excellent charts of the area that we were able to target the villages we have so efficiently. They are very helpful, and we are taking very good care of them.
We have learned so much, and we have gained so much. We have used everything we have to help this effort and we have never been so proud and thankful to do it as we are when we hear that so many are behind what we started. Thank you all so very, very much. You and your donations have definitely made a difference. YOU have saved peoples lives and returned their livelihoods to them. We could not have done this to this extent without YOUR support.
Our eyes are wide open and we encourage any ideas from anyone that might be able to help fund or be willing to do ground work. It’s not an easy job, but it’s a very rewarding one. Our original sign, painted on a bed sheet, still proudly hangs outside the hotel telling everyone we are still accepting donations for relief aid. No one has torn it down, not even Mother Nature.
Thank you all once again, and again, and again. We could not have done as much as we havce without your help.
JANUARY 18TH UPDATE
On the 16th, our boat ASIA finished dropping off helicopter fuel for the scientist Kerry Sieh, as well as fresh vegetables, aid relief buckets, and a ½ page list of other supplies for Matt George in Gunning Sitoli, on the northeast side of Nias. ASIA then traveled to Sibolga, where it was on dock for 2 days and was ready to come back home.
Scuzz had an opportunity to speak to Professor Kerry, and he shared more of his findings. His research shows that the island of Simeulue rose 2-3 feet in the northern part of the island, and dropped maybe 1 foot in the south. In Nias, he calculated that the tsunami wave that hit Sirombu was 4.2 meters high. In Simeulue (which is north of Nias), the wave as estimated at approximately 6.2 meters high. Most villagers in Simeulue reported that the biggest wave hit around 9am –10am; while reports are that an odd wave hit Nias around 3-4 pm. Kerry thinks this is because the wave reflected off Sri Lanka, and bounced back onto the islands. This is only theory at this point, but if accurate it’s just an amazing example of the power of this quake and subsequent tsunami.
Around 7pm on the 17th, we got a call from Scuzz’s sister, Alyssa. She is on the boat Mikumba with Matt George and Adam Kobayashi (AK), heading up to the northwestern tip of Simeulue to a town called Alisan – on our charts it says Alunam. This is one of the villages that has reported heavy damage and many homeless. Alyssa told us they had been traveling up from southwest Simeulue, and had seen 3 dead bodies during their travels – one on the beach, the other 2 in the water.
Scuzz then rang our Indonesian business partner Eddie Om and his son Andi to see if ASIA could travel to Simeulue instead of coming back to Padang, and it was agreed it could be done. He also asked if we could stock ASIA with building supplies, and fresh fruit in Sibolga. Again, no problem. He then called Bidin, our friend in Sibolga and asked if he could organize 3 tons of fresh fruit and veggies to be ready to load on ASIA tomorrow evening, Jan 18, and it was done. A local driver was hired to help load ASIA with as much medicine, juice and dry food they could fit on.
Around 9:45pm on the 17th, Scuzz and his brother Matt left for the 10 – 12 hour drive, through the night, to Sibolga. Today, they loaded the boat to the hilt with Rp. 125,000,000 (about $13,000 U.S.) of supplies that were purchased by Sumatran Surfariis, and they will set off for northwest Simuelue tonight. This was obviously a drastic change of plans (as versus returning home to Padang), but this editor cannot say it was a big surprise. Scuzz came back from his original trip thinking he had stopped to soon. After being home for a few days and evaluating the status in Padang, he felt his energies would be better directed in the field. Our surf charter business will still press forward, and we will eventually have time to retool our boats and get them in shape to provide more magic vacations, but right now the time is to help those in need. Scuzz has a tremendous rapport with these people and a great understanding of how they run their villages, so we’re sure his energy and knowledge is being put to the best possible use. (He’s not here to make me delete this, so I can say it: the dude is a hero.)
Rob Wilson, CEO of Rip Curl Indonesia, called the hotel this morning. He is in Calang, which is just south of Banda Aceh, along with the folks of IDEP. He informed us the wave that hit Calang was an astounding 25 meters high. We’ve heard reports that the population of Calang is between 10,000 – 14,0000, but in every report we get, we get information that equates to approximately 70 – 75% of the people are dead or missing. Rob reports that of a population of 10,000, a total 7,600 are dead or missing. Earlier IDEP reports say that of a population of 14,000, at total of 10,000 are dead of missing. It goes without saying then that Calang was utterly devastated by the tsunami. Today, the rain keeps coming down and the pits where the bodies are being put are now full of water and bodies are floating. The smell is unbearable, and the muddy land makes getting supplies in extremely difficult. They are re-stocking supplies in Banda Aceh, but these people are truly in shock. Sadly, there are reports that the Indonesian police and military are basically doing nothing.
Oliver Langley, a fellow boat charter captain, called the hotel this morning as well. He is on Barrenjoey (surf charter boat) at Nias. There is a “Dr. Mark” (Kiwi Doctor) on board Mark Coleman’s boat, the Nusa Dewata (also a surf charter boat). Ollie told us a couple of days ago Dr. Mark treated a woman in very late stages of Malaria. He worked on her with drips and medications, and as of today she is recovering. Her family is all around her, and Oliver says her eyes are sparkling and it’s amazing how she has come back around. Yeah!!! These positive stories keep us going!! Oliver sounds good, and when we asked if he was getting tired, he replied, “No, we want to keep going!” So, so many people are helping.
Nusa Dewata and Barrenjoey are working under the direction of SurfAid, and SurfAid continues to work hard in the rebuilding process, particularly on Nias. Their clinics at Sirombu and Mandrehe are into full swing and their medical staff has treated about 1,000 Nias residents. A team of 40 SurfAid medical staff is on the ground in Nias, and they are following a 30-day program, which will take them from village to village, immunizing and treating the sick and injured. SurfAid has reported one case of measles on Nias today, which is a major concern because it is so highly contagious. SurfAid CEO Andrew Griffiths has also been putting in 18-hour days for weeks now and shows no signs of slowing down.
That’s the latest for now, but we’ll keep you posted. As you have seen if you read our updates, it’s ever changing. We’d like to ask everyone please say a prayer to whichever god you believe in, or just send good vibes for all the volunteers helping out, all the captains and crew that have worked long DAYS, not just hours, all the ground crew doing much of the coordinating and organizing, the organizations funding these efforts, and to all those lost or that have lost.
All are heroes.
Last minute update, morning, January 19th:
Scuzz called today (January 19th) to let us know the hospital beds have found a home. Our business partner Andi, son of Eddie Om, has worked it out with customs at Teluk Bayur Harbor in Padang to receive the hospital beds and anything else we can have sent over. Sandra and Hal, Scuzz’s folks, have been working on this from Australia, and it’s a major roadblock cleared now that we have permission on the Indonesian end. It will still require a great deal of coordination on their part, but it looks like this will happen. We’ve contacted Dawn and Pete at the Clean Ocean Foundation to see if there is any way they can get outboard motors and any other essential items sent over and put in the crates with the hospital beds. Also, we’ve been working with Noel at www.tools4tsunami.org (the have a great site – please check it out) to get important rebuilding tools included in the crates. We’d like to thank Pete, Dawn, Noel, Sandra, Hal, and everyone that is working so very hard to make this happen. Again, it’s still in the works, but these items would be extremely helpful in the relief and rebuilding effort if we can make it happen.
From the field, Alyssa called and said there were 6 confirmed cases of tuberculosis in the northwestern village on Simeulue called Alosan, where they are doing relief efforts. She reports that the area has nearly completely been destroyed. All the government offices are gone, almost all the houses are gone, and virtually everyone is homeless. In short, they need everything. Scuzz is on his way there right now. He is going to do a run up, stay for 1 day, then take Alyssa back to Sinabang, in southern Simeulue. There they will pick up doctors, medical equipment being flown in from Medan, and any other supplies they can carry, and then head back up. A second cargo boat will be right behind him. Some of the things they are asking for are fishing gear, water purifying kits, wheel barrels, cooking oil, and a megaphone so they can speak to a lot of people at once.
Please send your prayers and good vibes so that we can make this happen. It would be essential to saving lives and a faster rebuilding period.
JANUARY 21ST UPDATE
On the 19th, we got a chance to speak further with Dr. Kerry Sieh, and his information is just astonishing. Kerry, an American geologist, came into the hotel to visit and say thanks for delivering the helicopter fuel out to them last week. He said they couldn’t have gone on without it and it was huge that we did it for them. Yeah!! We get stoked when we hear feedback like that.
As we mentioned in previous updates, Dr. Kerry has been checking his instruments placed on the islands for the last 2 weeks, which register earth movements and activity in its tectonic plates. While at the hotel, he showed us his latest photos and reports.
In the northwest point of Simeulue, there is brand new land. The quake caused the earth to rise so the outer islands and northwest Simeulue mainland are now much larger. Northwest Simeulue is now 1.5 meters higher, which obviously increases the total surface area of the island. The water line has increased approximately 300 – 400 meters from where the beach used to be. Imagine the magnitude of this across the entire island.
Dr. Kerry reports that the earthquake was a result of approximately 200 years of gradual sinking of the plate. When it popped back up, it caused the tsunami. The land rose before the tsunami hit. If it had not risen as much as it did, the tsunami would have been much bigger. The rising of the reef and exposure of so much more land made the tsunami weaker (weaker than it could’ve been anyway) when it hit the villages.
The effects are enormous. Swamps that were just beyond the beach are now much further inland because of the uplifting, and they are beginning to dry out. One coral head measuring 2 meters in diameter, and weighing more than a ton, was flipped completely over by the tsunami. The northeast section of Simeulue has was uplifted as well, but not as significantly as the northwest side, experiencing approximately 25 cm of uplifting.
In Nias, Kerry documented a watermark on a mosque, which was 4.2 meters (13.8 feet) above the ground. There are trees about 100 meters off the coast of Sirombu (west side of Nias) growing out of the water. Many are live coconut trees that will die soon because of the salt water, but as of now they look quite crazy just growing out there. Kerry thinks this might be a result of the earth kind of liquefying and sliding into the sea. He is not sure about this, but he cannot think of any other reason.
Sometimes we are not able to communicate Kerry’s findings clearly as well as he can, as it is very technical stuff. J But you can check out his site at http://www.tectonics.caltech.edu/sumatra (if it prompts you for a username and password), you can just click Cancel to get through to the site). More specifically, you can check Kerry’s direct findings in his online journal here: http://today.caltech.edu/today/story-display.tcl?story%5fid=5903.
On the 20th, Scuzz called Christina from the field, informing her he began negotiations with SurfAid and AusAid to fund a relief effort in Simeulue, which he will organize. Within a couple of hours, Christina emailed me back informing me that Scuzz secured what he was hoping for: Rp. 750,000,00 (approximately US$ 85,000) to fund his Simeulue project. SurfAid was the first to step up with the funding, and AusAid should be coming along to jump in as well soon. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone involved in making this happen. We cannot believe it.
Scuzz’s project involves loading 5 cargo boats in Sibolga (northwest coast of Sumatra) with supplies to travel to the villages of northern Simeulue, which experienced absolute destruction. The primary villages he is focusing on immediately are in the Ketchamatan and Alasan area. (Please cut us a little slack on the spellings might be wrong, as every chart or every map we look at has a different spelling J ).
Scuzz is hoping to get 2 cargo boats loaded on Sat, 2/1, one on Sunday 2/2, and 2 on Monday 2/3. These boats will carry building supplies, medicine and general relief aid to these areas closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. The villagers themselves in these areas were not as affected as they could have been, as village elders apparently passed down stories of the last tsunami in 1907. They all knew to run. But structurally, Scuzz says that easily 90% of 8 small villages is gone – just completely demolished. The people ran when they felt the earthquake and were spared, but now they live in small houses they have pieced together from bits of debris.
There are 4,266 people in these 8 villages, totally 896 families that are left with virtually nothing. These are the statistics given to Scuzz by the Indonesian military in the area. Communication to and from Padang is not easy, and can only be done via satellite phone. Thus, any storms or high winds make it impossible to hear anything Scuzz says, but he is doing his best to get aid up there. Matt George, Bill Sharp and crew are the ones that took Alyssa (Chris’ sister) and Adam Kobayashi (one of our companies surf charter guides) up to these areas. They were some of the first ones on sight, and Alyssa’s’ reports are what prompted Chris’ second trip out.
Here are some of Scuzz’s reports from this morning from the northwest area of Simeulue:
Ugung Pandang: 70 families and 160 people displaced, 12 houses gone, and 50 damaged. Villagers stayed in the jungle 4 – 8 days after the tsunami.
Lewa: 86 families and 890 people displaced, 10 houses completely gone, and150 severely damaged. Approximately 5% of the villagers are sick, but not disaster related. These people are asking for roofing materials for their school before anything else
Nasra: 45 families and 150 people displaced, 10 people injured in the tsunami, 25 houses gone, 40 houses severely damaged, 10 fishing boats destroyed.
All villages have come to are asking for coffee, sugar, fruit and vegetables, seeds to start growing these things again, kerosene, fuel, kitchen things, building materials, mosquito nets, a megaphone to communicate to a lot of people at once, and lamp oil. They have no light and pretty much walk around blindly at night. Many villages have used wood that used to be their homes to build fires to cook on. They are homeless and are living day to day, but somehow they manage to smile and laugh. It’s just amazing. It’s hard to imagine the western world could begin to recover from something of this magnitude, especially this quickly. These people are simply just happy island people that face hardships daily we cannot even comprehend. Imagine trying to re-build 8 small cities in America or Australia: $85,000 couldn’t even begin to do it, but it IS possible here.
Once again, thank you all so very very much. We could not be more grateful to the surfing community here in Padang and around the world, and to all our family and friends that have done so much to make this relief aid effort a success. The fundraisers and emails have really been inspiring, and are truly getting to the right places (Mike Vann – you are a champion).
Last minute update!!:
This a list from an email I got from Christina regarding what Scuzz is buying to stock boats. It is also some of the things we have been constantly asked to bring out throughout this effort. Hopefully you’ll find it interesting/informative, and possibly spark some ideas for how you can help. In Australia, there is a company called Tools 4 Tsunami (www.tools4tsunami.org) that helps collect some of these. If you can find an organization in your area that may help deliver some of these items to Padang, please feel free to contact us:
Canned fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines), canned vegetables, canned fruit, rice, noodles, sugar, coffee, tea, spices (bumbu), baby powdered milk, toddler powdered milk
Hammers, nails, wood planers, shovels, wheelbarrows, chisels, mallets, machetes, saws, rope, tarps, hatchets, 2-man saws, roofing sheeting, roofing nails, thatched roofing, cement, sealant (caulking material)
Water purification machines, plates, cups, silverware, woks, pans, covered pots, spatulas, big spoons, kitchen knives, bowls, water pitchers, ladles, can openers
VILLAGE SUSTAINACE NEEDS
Bensin, solar, 2 stroke oil, kerosene, small generators, canoes, oil lamps, spare parts for oil lamps, mosquito nets, mats to sleep on, pillows, sheets, blankets, cloth for doors and curtains, kapok mattresses, all sized plastic covered containers, fishing lines, hooks, nets, hand-held nets
Cream washing detergent, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, combs, sarongs, feminine napkins, sewing needles, thread, buttons, zippers, mosquito repellant, mosquito coils, Band-Aids, gauze, Panadol, Betadine, vitamin C, medications and vitamins that are simple enough that you don’t need a doctor to explain their dosage/usage
Pencils, erasers, notebooks, pencil sharpeners, pens, rulers, chalk, chalkboards, colored pencils, coloring books, crayons, scissors, calendars, material for school uniforms, kites, dolls, soccer balls
A megaphone, cigarettes, matches, beetlenut
This is pretty much what they lost, and what they are asking for.
JANUARY 25TH UPDATE
On January 22nd, we spent the whole day packing 3, 2-ton trucks with supplies to be shipped to Sibolga. Scuzz arrived in Sibolga on the morning of the 23rd and spent the day with captains trying to get cargo boats organized to transport the 3 truckloads to northern Simeulue. He has been working closely with CARE International, an organization that has been covering the entire island and has plans to be there for the next 2 years. They are completely stoked with what Scuzz is doing, and are using him as an information source for the 8 villages in the Alasan/Kecamatan area.
Over 4,600 people in this area were displaced after the tsunami. They have lost everything, but, as with most villagers Scuzz has encountered on these surveys, they are happy and smiley. It simply amazes him. We will have pictures of these areas soon as Adam, Alyssa, and Matt George just arrived back in Padang from their trip to the area. When they get settled and have a chance to forward them to the Slayer, he will put them on the site.
On January 24th, we sent out a 45-ton cargo boat from Padang to the same area (northern Simeulue). We have a list that is nearly 3 pages long of all the items that were loaded onto the trucks and cargo boat, but in the interest of saving web space we will not include it all in this update. However, at the bottom of our January 21st update you can read a general list of the items that we are purchasing. It is very difficult for the big organizations to mobilize quickly, which is why they are asking the private individuals and small companies for their help. We have spent nearly all of the money SurfAid has funded us and signed a contract for payment for receipts today.
Adam (AK) is traveling back to the U.S. as this update is being typed. Everyone who donated money at the benefit in Ventura, CA can know that AK was there in person to make sure it was put to good use. AK was able to type out a brief summary of his travels at the hotel before he headed for the airport, which is included at the end of this update (in italics). Also, we wanted to thank Claudio Franca, Mike Vann, and all the students/pros at Claudio Franca Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (www.claudiofrancabjj.com) for their recent fundraising effort that raised over $1,000 for IDEP and Doctor’s Without Borders. Truly a great, unselfish effort!
Thank you to everyone, and we’ll keep you posted.
Hello all. Adam (AK to many) here, reporting from Padang. Just got back in from a long trip, furthering the Sumatran Surfariis effort. We set out of the river with an absolutely fully loaded Asia (a Sumatran Surfariis boat). Food and supplies were touching the roof, bunks were too full to sleep in let alone walk near.
In twenty hours we were in Taluk Delam, dropping off helicopter fuel and buying out stores with the money from our Ventura benefit. Then we set off for Gunnungsitoli to unload Asia and get the goods distributed to the hard hit areas on Nias. This one was most likely the largest drop up to that time to an area over 90% affected by the tsunami.
From there it got interesting as Lil (Alyssa) and I boarded the boat The Makumbah, which was backed primarily by the surf industry folks, to head further north. It was an extremely amazing adventure from there. The mix of people turned out to be an epic group of photographers, journalists and doctors. The few days traveling north were even eventful. One morning while surveying coast we came across a body on the shore. It was mostly bones and looked almost fake but disturbing and thought provoking nonetheless. It was also a reminder that we were coming closer to devastated areas. Later that day we saw something floating in the distance and went for a closer look. Sure enough it was a floating body. This one was more disturbing as it looked much more “real” then just the skull and bones. As we motored away from that we noticed more bodies in the waters. They must have been floating down from mainland Aceh. This was heavy. After this we surveyed a hangout for local fisherman on a small island. No sign of anything there. The waves had destroyed the place completely and it seemed nobody was around or coming back to this small gathering spot anytime soon. The only real adventure there was being stared down by two massive wild pigs. They would’ve kicked my arse for certain but after some stares and grunts they went back on their way. Finally we made it into north Simeulue. Long story short, this place was trashed. An amazing show of the power of nature and the tragic lives these people now live. We supplied 8 villages with things like fresh veggies, cooking equipment, clothes, fish, fishing gear, sleeping mats and the list goes on and on. Each family got their fair share of the ration and it was truly cherished. Villagers were seen throughout the day putting the goods to use. Tools were being used to rebuild, ibu’s were seen cooking and clothes were immediately worn. The highlight of all this had to have been the doctors. They treated over 400 people in 4 days of serious work. They saved lives for sure and treated some hardcore disease and sickness. Words can’t really express what we saw and experienced there. All of this support here and from home is making a bigger and bigger difference with each day. Lives are being saved. We motored back home, surveying and making plans to do more good.
This is a very short story of a way bigger trip. I’m a bit exhausted but if anyone’s interested, we will have a full day-by-day journal as well as heaps of pictures up on the web upon my return to the states on the 27th of January.
Everyone has been so amazing. The king and queen Chris’ have made more of a difference here then anyone I’ve met. Also, the inspirational stories of compassion from you all back home are as important as anything in helping aid these people.
They’ll be a short film from this to add to our current video project so hang in the if you’re at all interested in that. I’ve also added just a few of the shots I took out there, so hopefully we can get them up on the web. Keep in mind a more detailed account is on the way but I gotta get some sleep for now. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you think there’s anything I can do to help you guys with anything back home.
Too many people to thank and the people I’d thank most aren’t looking for that anyway. You’re all amazing and we hope you’re doing well. Thanks for staying tuned. To be continued…
JANUARY 28TH UPDATE
First, a quick note: we’re going to do the update a little differently this time, as we have so many new photos. We’re going to do them thumbnail style at the bottom of the page so we can fit them all in and give them all an adequate description. But there are tons, so be sure to check them out.
Onto the update: Scuzz is finally back and settled, and he sent the Slayer a long update for the first time since he returned from his second trip. Scuzz and Christina have spent the last few days organizing supplies to be loaded into trucks and boats to get out to Simeulue, the location from which Scuzz just returned. The Hotel Batang Arau in Padang continues to serve as an information center and gathering place, facilitating communication with those that are currently out in the islands and allowing those that are here in Padang to meet and organize further missions.
Tom Plummer and Dr. Ben called from Sinabang (southwest Simeulue) today and let us know that our cargo boat had made it out there safely, and they gave us great feedback that the supplies were a HUGE help. They are stoked. In addition, Andi Buddha organized the delivery all the medicine from Medan, which also arrived in Sinabang safely. Tom and Dr. Ben came up to Simeulue from Padang aboard the Santa Lucia, yet another surf charter boat. They are now gaining info in Sinabang, liaising with the local government and meeting with the other organizations in Simeulue to pave the way for the longer-term efforts of SurfAid. After focusing heavily on Nias, SurfAid is now moving to get cover Simeulue and run their clinics there.
Alyssa (Scuzz’s little sister, AKA “Lil”) is now in Singapore doing her visa run and will be flying to Medan tomorrow to meet up with Jude Barrand of SurfAid and fly out to Sinabang with her. They will meet up with Tom and Ben and head north to Alafan Bay. For the record, the bay referred to as Alafan is also known as Alaman, Alasan, Alavan or Alunam depending on the chart – sorry if we confused any map watchers out there. Alyssa’s medical knowledge, as well as her knowledge and contacts in the area, will be really useful to SurfAid, and they are stoked to have her aboard.
Jude has been on Nias lately working with SurfAid in their clinics, which have involved check ups, immunizations and educating the locals about disease. Jude said Herman was an enormous help, so we are proud to have brought Herman to them. We informed the folks at SurfAid that the people in Nias don’t really speak Bahasa Indonesian, especially when it comes to medical references, and hence you needed a local interpreter. We suggested utilizing the local beach kids at Lagundri, who could definitely use the work. It would be good for them to see how lucky they really have it, rather than relying on constant “hard luck hassling” to all guests that visit the famous bay. We hope in the long term this happens. It would be great for all. SurfAid has really stepped it up lately and has been trying to pull all of Padang together to work as one. As mentioned earlier, they financed our last effort and have been in talks today with the “SSRO” about joining with them.
The SSRO is the “Sumatran Surfzone Relief Operation.” They are a classic mix including the George Brothers (Sam and Matt), Bill Sharp and the original Indo doctors they had on the first trip. It also includes Lil (Alyssa), AK (Adam Kobayashi), Timmy Turner, Mama Timmy, Wera, Dustin, Christian, Sparksey & Co. Sorry if we’ve forgotten any of you guys – you have done an AMAZING effort. This team is full of characters. They are all gung-ho and have lit a fire under everyone’s arse. They followed their hearts and have accomplished some really remarkable things. Their next mission is, among other things, to distribute canoes to the most affected areas. They’ve already ordered more than a dozen canoes from Siberut (northernmost island in the Mentawais), which is great because it also adds to their economy.
To all you guys, thanks a lot for all the kind words you’ve said about Scuzz, Christina, AK, Lil, and Sumatran Surfariis in general. We really appreciate the nice press you’ve given us in the following sites, among others: http://forum.surfermag.com/forum/showflat.php?Number=662099 and http://www.surfingthemag.com/gallery/ssro_tsunami_relief/gallery1. And, I’m just typing what Scuzz wrote, but “thanks to the Slayer (that’s me), for keeping the world updated as he stays up all night working on the site.”
Care International and the French/Swiss team of Doctors Without Borders are also working in Simeulue, and they have a wealth of knowledge and resources to be put to good use. While in Sinabang, Scuzz worked with them and gave all the information he could and all the contacts they needed. They were very happy, and Scuzz was relieved to see such a big organization with such huge funding and length of time to be spent on Simeulue. They didn’t have the local contacts or access to boats, so it worked perfectly and we traded information in what was needed immediately. This was then relayed to Christina who pulled it all together in Padang, as she has done from Day 1 of our relief effort. She is still here, working FULL-ON on things such as keeping books and/or loaning money to Quiksliver, the Trader 2, SurfAid, Sumatran Surfariis, The Hotel Batang Arau, SSRO, Rip Curl, Odek, and IDEP. She’s also coordinating a group of filmmakers, Tom Henley’s group, and the rest of the Padang expats. She’s been absolutely amazing. The two groups, Care International and Doctor’s W/O Borders, are now also coordinating with SurfAid, through the good work of Jason Brown, Tom and Dr. Ben.
Tom Henley brought in some unbelievable footage of a beach on the mainland of Thailand. It hasn’t been sold to any TV station and will be historic in its scientific value. It shows how the water began to slowly drain for about 5 minutes before the first tsunami wave. The ocean appears super clean and calm, but WAY lower tide than ever before. Its sort of surreal as it shows people casually doing their thing on the beach and in the water, then from way out you see the wave coming. It starts to break way out in a really surfable peak, looking like a bombie in Hawaii. Sam George called it “Alligators”. The wave then surged further in and did its thing. To see what became of the pristine clean water is shocking, and the way the water whirl-pooled will be really interesting to scientists. It’s both fascinating and horrifying.
Back to our relief efforts: while in Simeulue, Scuzz traveled along the west coast by motorbike with the military head to check out the damage there. He found the worst hit areas to be the kecematan (province) of Teupah Barat. Of the 18 villages in this province, 13 were really badly damaged, with about 80% of homes either gone or rusak berat (damaged badly). They talked with village heads and assessed how they could best get the supplies in despite the damaged roads. There is a lot of damage to houses, bridges and many major structures in this province. The people said they could not stand up when the quake hit and were thrown down to the ground. Those that tried to stand back up were thrown down again until eventually everyone pretty much just sat or laid down for the duration. The damage to the bridges means big trucks are having trouble getting supplies to much of the west coast. Scuzz and his gang had to be very careful on some bridges even on motorbikes, and they had to get off and walk quite often.
The village heads informed them of the best places to drop supplies via the water, and also told them how a lot of supplies were going “missing” through Sinabang. Unlike Nias, which has 2 main ports, every single place they visited on the whole island of Simeulue is fed by Sinabang. So for these more remote villages, they are finding their usual weekly or twice-weekly supply deliveries of rice are not coming as often, or with less quantity, due to the overall taxing of resources there. During his travels, Scuzz also met with the British telecom, whose representatives were out there sweating profusely trying to repair the communication systems of the local cartels (telephone offices).
The island’s government in Sinabang is concerned about too much aid being given to Alafan and not enough being distributed evenly across the whole island. Scuzz says this is fair enough and a usual Indo response, but he feels this will end up evening out. But based on his surveying and observations, the Alafan kecematan is where the real urgency lies due to its remote location and its state of virtual total destruction. Tony aboard the cargo boat Sari Menjadi called Wednesday from Gunungsitoli on his way north to Alafan with a 50-ton load of supplies that Christina, Andi and Charlie arranged in Padang. They should arrive in Alafan tonight or tomorrow. They have, among other things, 40 gensets onboard, which will provide power and light to these villages.
The task now is thinking more long-term about this area. Local villages in the area of Alafan Bay have started to rebuild and have moved to higher ground on the slopes of the surrounding hills. This is an obvious reaction to having their villages destroyed by the ocean and being fearful of being swept away by another wave if they remain in the low-lying regions. But, in the long run, we feel education about what exactly happened, and how to prepare for something similar in the future, is needed in these areas. Indos like the area around their house to be clean, so they often cut down trees and shrubs near their homes in an effort to be neat. This tsunami took down or ripped up a lot of the remaining hardwoods and growth that wasn’t already supplanted from their efforts to be neat, and much of what was left after the tsunami is now being cut down to be used for rebuilding means. The result is their hillsides will become barren and unstable. The hardwoods have deep reaching roots that hold the soil in place, and in many areas of Indo Scuzz has seen them cut down these beautiful old trees and plant coconut palms in their place. Coconut palms are more of a cash crop, but also have very short roots. Right now is the dry season and all is ok, but as the rains of the wet season come in, it is highly likely that there will be mass landslides and all the problems that go with that. We hope we can inform them of this and work toward a better solution to prevent another potential disaster.
Another problem is water. The islands have a water table of fresh water. The fresh water is lighter than the salt water and hence sits above the salt water underground. Amazingly, this all rises and drops with the tide. The wells these people use are quite shallow and hence all fresh. But with this problem and with outside uneducated aid coming in, there have been cases of people drilling deep wells and using pumps to pump out large amounts of water. This pulls up the salt water and contaminates the fresh water table, in a lot of cases for the long term. This has happened in Aceh lately and must be really watched here.
Another problem Scuzz saw, especially around the west coast of Simeulue, was the fact that the reef had risen so much that the little rivers or keyholes (a deep spot or slot in the reef) where locals used to pull their boats in at night are now gone. Most Indo fisherman will pull their canoes up above the high tide mark after fishing and bring their catch into the village. Then in the morning it’s easy for them to pull it down onto the beach and out thru the keyhole, or down into the riverbank and out thru the river. Now these rivers and keyholes are all closed up, and in their place is up to 100 meters of sharp coral, even at high tide. So to drag their canoes back and forward over this each time they fish will be a massive drama and shorten the lives of their canoes. In regards to the bigger motorized boats (called “robins”), this will just be not possible. The Indos are extremely resourceful, and in situations where westerners would get upset or complain, they just deal with it and find an answer. So they will survive and figure out a system in the long run, but it will be a major hurdle in the immediate future.
A good example of their calmness under fire came when Scuzz and AK interviewed a local in Langi, the main village of the Alafan kecematan. This guy was out on his canoe fishing for udang (crayfish) the morning of the 26th. He said he heard a strange noise and thought the engine that powered his compressor was damaged. He looked and saw that it wasn’t, and he instantly knew that it was an earthquake. So he said he went down to get his udang and when he got to the ocean floor saw that it was boiling and bubbling up. He said the current then got very strong and he came up to the surface. He said that he then started going up and down over the waves and the current was still strong. Scuzz asked if he was scared for his family in the village and he said no, because he didn’t realize it was so big. When he got back and saw the devastation, he raced in to ask if anyone had died and the people told him “no, but someone gave birth”. In the panic and in the race to run up hill, the strain had induced contractions in the pregnant woman, and she successfully gave birth on the hill, right then and there.
Scuzz and AK also interviewed an older man who has already built a 2-story house, and now has all his family and sisters living in it. Though they estimated he was well over 50, Scuzz said he was sporting a rippled, cut body and a really calm strong presence. The man said he built the house virtually by himself, using the rubble around what used to be the village. Unreal.
On Thursday we got a call today from Samantha at IDEP. She’s now back in Bali, working out of their headquarters. She called to get Scuzz’s opinion on communications around Aceh and what to use in regards to satellite phones or high frequency radios. This is a huge job and it shows the respect that the whole world organization has given Sam and IDEP. She is now pretty much in charge of pulling the whole communication system of all the Aceh aid workers together. Petra of IDEP also sent us her very informative Tsunami Relief Update (#11). It discusses their extensive efforts to support the survivors of Calang and ways you can donate to their cause. It’s a long, but very interesting read, and you can check it out here.
It’s awesome to have worked with such inspirational people that have given up a month (so far) of their lives for others. No one here has slept much, done anything for fun or had time off during this, and it’s all been 100% worth it. We feel it’s a real boost to the world’s good energy.
We’ll have lots more soon. Tomorrow the SSRO plan to depart again, so Lil and SurfAid will be shooting back the latest info from the north of Simeulue. Tony will arrive and start distributing supplies and our team of Indos here in Padang, so we can finally start pulling together the Southern Cross for its first charter on the 5th of February. We are still a charter business, after all.
Terimah Kasih to everyone and take care!
FEBRUARY 2ND UPDATE
**Thank you to AK for all the photos.
As the surf season approaches, we are gradually trying to make our way back to business as usual and the goal of finding empty perfect tropical lineups, but it is difficult as so much is still happening in the affected areas of Northern Sumatra. Our aid effort in Padang has been really amazing. It’s been great experience that has really helped the people who had their lives turned upside down, and it’s also helped to spur a whole lot of bigger agencies into gear. We have been able to do this because of a lot of the readers of this site. Thanks so much for all the support – it really has been an incredible energy behind us and pushed us on. The aid updates may start to come a little less frequently, but we invite you to keep checking back, as we never feel like we’ll TRULY be finished helping the relief effort as long as we’re continuing to travel in these waters.
Now, onto new information since our last update: After coordinating with CARE International and SurfAid in Sinabang (southern Simeulue), Scuzz spoke with Alyssa (Scuzz’s lil’ sis) and Jude (of SurfAid) for a long while on Saturday about their upcoming Sunday morning mission. There were completely sloppy seas with strong winds on Saturday, yet these two non-maritime women took 2 boats around the bottom of Simeulue to distribute goods to this area. In addition, they are on a mission to gather new information for others to use in the near future. This area has not really been visited yet by sea, and it’s much more shallow and tricky to navigate a boat any day, let alone after a major movement which makes many charts inaccurate. These girls are chargers, indeed.
Earlier, we organized for the girls to do an early morning motorbike run out to the west coast to check out the ocean conditions, plus find a local fisherman to bring back. We also organized for them to let the local village head (kepala desa) know that we would be coming around with 2 boats full of supplies to distribute, and they asked if he could he send out his local canoes and robins that had survived the tsunami to help bring in the goods.
The cargo boat we had filled with SurfAid’s donations was originally chartered to provide cargo to the main town of Sinabang for distribution to other boats and overland. But the other boats had already moved north, and the land route had only been covered to a point. The damage to many of the bridges made it too risky to get further north on land, so the girls were left with a real mission. Scuzz spoke to the boat’s owner and let him know that this was for “bantuan” (basically translates to “help”), and that could we do this by boat with some assistance. He was amazing, as a lot of locals have been, and he didn’t hassle or hesitate to say, “Yes, lets go!”
The girls were awesome. Everything went smoothly, as many locals met the gals upon arrival. A couple of local fisherman came onboard to work around the reefs and provide guidance to the nearby villages. They continued to drop off more supplies the next day, as they continued north, surveying the area.
When Scuzz spoke to Alyssa, she said that Jude did a fantastic job surveying the west coast of Simeulue, and Jude found the area of Salang to the worst hit. Specifically, Alyssa mentioned the village Nesehai (sp?) was particularly badly hit. She went as far as to say it was worse off than the north bay of Alasan (which we’ve covered in depth in recent updates). Alyssa informed us their main income came from its rice paddies, with about 80% of these people living off this crop. This is now all gone. The other 20% of their sustenance comes from fishing, and with their fleet pretty much wiped out they are devastated. She said they have moved their whole community 3 kilometers inland, and they have nothing. We brought them educational supplies and helped them set up a new school, among other things.
The girls then moved north and met up with the Indies Trader 2 and SurfAid doctors back in Alasan. Alyssa and Jude helped provide medical assistance, and anything else they could to do to help, whenever possible. The SurfAid folks have been doing a great job immunizing and have treated many people, and there are some amazing stories of the doctors’ efforts circulating around town. Alyssa also said the Jakarta branch of Helen Keller Team was amazing, distributing vitamins and giving love and energy.
Scuzz spoke to Alyssa again briefly Wednesday night, and said the SurfAid doctors have come back to Sinabang. She also said that she really wanted to get back out to Salang to distribute more goods to their villages. She may jump on with Matt George and the gang of the Sumatran Surfzone Relief Operation again. These guys can’t be given enough credit. Guys like the George brothers, Bill Sharp, Timmy Turner, Mama Timmy, Wera, Christian, Dustin, Sparksey and several others in this mix have been a great example of unselfish people giving back to the people who’ve given them so much for years. As mentioned in earlier updates, they are working on bringing canoes and robins north, and they want to have these canoes built in Siberut to help fuel their economy as well.
Speaking of good examples, one most influential and proactive individuals we’ve seen in action is Robert Wilson of Rip Curl Indonesia. Robert has led by example and gotten to many of the worse hit areas first. He was at his home in Noosa Head, Australia when the tsunami hit, and he quickly realized that a simple monetary donation would not be enough. Soon after he was in Indo organizing large cargo boats like the KM Sumber Rejeki and KM Karya Bersama to some of the worst hit areas, such as Calang. Scuzz was forwarded a recent interview Robert did for www.ripcurl.com that truly captures the frenetic nature of things after the quake. In particular, Robert quotes a story from his good friend Dick Lewis that we felt we needed to post below, because it’s just so accurate and amazing. But first, please pay a visit to Rip Curl’s Tsunami Update portion of their site at http://www.ripcurl.com/content/anmviewer.asp?a=2287 so that you can find out more about Robert’s amazing efforts.
Here is Dick Lewis’s story:
“The psychological stress is tremendous among survivors, especially among young married men who lost their families but saved themselves because they were able to outrun the wave. Many survivors I talked to said if they were to die tomorrow, they would be happy. Children have nightmares – a 9 year old girl who was rescued by her mother’s desperate lunge of one arm into the murky water while her other arm clung to a building’s roof recounted her nightmare of drowning and being unable to breathe. Her friends speak of dreams populated by shattered bodies and severed limbs.
On the other hand, they are remarkably resilient, rebuilding their lives as they can – and it seemed to me that a majority are starting to do so on their own without waiting for assistance from the UN or NGOs. Even so, I was particularly touched by a young widower who’d lost his wife and year old child — he said our presence (speaking of the international relief community there) was like medicine to their souls, providing a spark of hope for their shattered lives.
As for tsunami, one fisherman told me of being a kilometer out to sea and facing a sixty- foot high wall of water. His boat struggled up the wall, going nearly vertical, and barely made it over the top. There was no back side: for fifty feet the water was level as a plateau. The wind generated by the wave’s face size and velocity threw mist high into the air. It was this block of water that did most of the damage—six more smaller waves followed.
On shore, the sea retreated for hundreds of meters; one fishermen estimated the vertical sea level drop at 15 meters. A small head high wave surged to shore before this bigger wave struck. Survivors on shore described this wave as a rearing cobra swiftly moving forward. Prior to this, rice fields erupted with geysers of steaming water, and in fact some victims were scalded to death even before the tsunami struck.”
One of the other key players in this relief effort has been Sumatran Surfariis’ own Ovi Marunduri. Ovi has been a crewmember and guide for Sumatran Surfariis, but he was born and raised in Bawa Island in the Hinako’s, just off the south west coast of Nias. Ovi lost his brother and pregnant sister-in-law in the tsunami, but that did not stop him from being one of the most influential characters we’ve come across in the survival and relief efforts in the Indian Ocean. We conducted an interview with Ovi, and it’s a MUST READ. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too long for this particular update, so we’ve created a separate page for it here. PLEASE take the time to read it when you get a chance.
As far as our upcoming efforts, we’ve arranged a container full of medical furniture and beds, plus a few hundred kilos of tools to be sent from Australia to Padang. Thanks again to the folks at www.tools4tsunami.org for their help with this. We will be looking to give this hospital furniture to the new hospital in Tuapejat or the proposed one in Sirombu, Nias. We are also looking to adopt the island of Bawa. We have found some available land there that is quite central to the 4 villages, and will be building pig-proof fencing and some fruit and vegetable gardens. We’ve found that blood pressure was very high and that most of the islands illnesses are related to diet, which could be greatly improved with more fresh fruits and veggies. The locals have tried to build gardens before, but the pigs just destroy the crops and run through the small fences they’ve put up in the past to attempt to protect them. We are aiming at building a permanent, impenetrable fencing system that will be there for many years to come. We feel this will bring added esteem, wages, and a complete lifestyle change for the better for the locals of Bawa. Plus, it can create a new income stream if they can produce enough to sell back to the charter boats. Scuzz recently talked to several Indonesian horticulturalists that have worked on Siberut for the last 6 years, and he has learned how to begin. Lastly, we will also be making a boat for the island, plus organizing an outboard motor to be delivered and making a mooring or two.
If this project is successful, we will start moving to nearby islands and start working there in a similar fashion, with the vegetable gardens being the first priority. In addition, when we charter to the affected areas we will be bringing supplies up each trip to help out, plus we’ll be visiting the villages to provide ongoing support and education. We have some Indonesian informational sheets with pictures that we will be giving to villages to explain rebuilding, water sanitization and cleanliness among other things. We have our first big visit planned in April during a back-to-back, month-long charter trip. We plan to go up to and around Simeulue, distributing tools and supplies to outlying villages.
So, as you can see, although we have to eventually surrender our aid role into our primary business as a surf charter, the relief effort is ongoing, and there is still LOTS planned in the immediate future. And it’s clear that people have not forgotten or lost interest in the cause. We still receive MANY emails expressing positive feedback and encouragement daily, and that keeps us fired up. In addition, the fundraisers and benefits continue to take place to help raise money for those in need. The Santa Cruz surf community is throwing the next big one on February 3rd – see the January 9th update for more information on that if you’re in the area.
Thank you so much for all your support. We’ll keep you posted. Terima kasih!!
This is a bit of an impromptu, interim update from your friendly neighborhood Slayer. I am the webmaster of www.sumatransurfariis.com, as well as a partner and booking manager in the company. Scuzz, Christina, and all the others will be providing another relief update shortly, but I thought it was important to take the time to thank some of the people that are making it all happen.
Last night I attended a benefit in Santa Cruz to raise money for Doctor’s Without Borders, IDEP, and Sumatran Surfariis for the purpose of providing relief to those in the Indian Ocean who have been greatly affected by the recent tsunami. Many, many people helped organize this event, but probably the most instrumental were John Steinberg and Dr. Mike Vann. It was their idea to come up with the event, and they were the impetus in promoting it and gathering swag to give away. To say we had a lot of stuff for the raffle is a gross understatement. Local surf reps, surf shops, shapers, yoga academies, jiu jitsu academies, artists, coffee makers, store owners, and just generous citizens donated so much stuff that we spent almost two hours raffling and auctioning off items. We had 10 surfboards to auction off, and these were not just your typical throwaway boards. All were of high quality, and some were flat out masterpieces, raising upwards of $700 per board. We had over a dozen fine art pieces auctioned off, as well as a one-week stay in a 2-bedroom condo in Tamarindo that was offered right there on the spot, the night of the event. When this was all done, we finally got to watch the movie Sprout, by Thomas Campbell, also a Santa Cruz resident. Much of the film was shot in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other ravaged parts of the Indian Ocean, so it really showed the beauty of the waves, land, and people of this amazing area that we are trying to help.
Dr. Mike gave a very informative and inspirational speech about the people of this land, and what our long-term, sustainable goals are to help them. I got up and gave a quick speech as well, but mostly all I could express was “Thank You”. I tried to say thank you to everyone who has donated their money, time, good thoughts, and energy to providing relief to this area, but I’m unsure if I got it all across as I was sort of emotional. I tried not to get choked up, but it’s hard not to be moved by the unselfishness and generosity people have shown in this last month+. I was informed today that the event netted close to $12,000us to be split amongst the organizations. I, we, are just blown away and thank you so much to everyone that made it happen.
This event inspired me to pay recognition to some of the people who’ve gone beyond the call of duty to bring aid to the locals of Northern Sumatra and lands in the Indian Ocean. I may have thanked some already, and I’m sure I’ll omit a few names, so please know we appreciate everyone’s help. And I know I’ve used a lot of “I’s” so far in this update, but please know that I mean “We”, as in the entire Sumatran Surfariis team. We all thank you for your support and kindness.
· One of the groups I’d like to thank AK, the Malloys, the folks at Patagonia, and all the people that helped make the first benefit happen. As stated in earlier updates, this event raised nearly $14,000, which was quickly used to help buy goods for those in Nias, Simeulue, and the Banyaks. Excellent effort folks!!
· Simon Brown is working to organize a tool drive so that he can fill a large container full of building materials to Padang, which with then shipped further north. He is working with Grocon, Permasteelisa, and Eureka to organize donations from their affiliated businesses. His simple thought is that anyone can help, from workers on site recycling buckets to big company injections, and it would include ANYTHING and EVERYTHING needed to rebuild a community. On top of all this (if I’m reading the emails correctly), he’s doing his own “Cookie Drive” on sites as well, with all cookie donations going to the relief effort. How cool is that? Thank you so much for your efforts, Simon!
· On a similar note, Noel and the folks at www.tools4tsunami.org are sending yet another crate of tools to Padang. The crate they are sending soon already has 600kgs (1,320 pounds) worth of tools, which amounts to roughly 2000 items, and they’re still trying to squeeze in a bit more before sending it over. This is a great option for people in Australia to donate unwanted/unneeded tools that can be used to help rebuild a village. We’ve been trying to locate someone in the states that might be able to offer a similar service, so if you have any suggestions please email us. Thank you again Noel for spearheading this effort.
· Hal and Sandra Scurrah, Scuzz’s folks, have served as the Australia collection center for donations, and they have also worked with Noel to coordinate the delivery of the tools to Padang. Also, they, like their son, have been unfaltering positive presence and they help to keep us motivated. It’s easy to see where Scuzz gets his positive vibe.
· Janine Aldous is a schoolteacher from the Woodleigh School in Victoria, Australia. She is attempting to organize a campaign at her school that would allow their staff to make small, ongoing fortnightly donations ($2 – $5) to a tsunami relief fund. With 80 staff members, this would probably raise $200 – $300 every two weeks for relief efforts. And as this relief effort is going to be an ongoing thing for us, it’s nice to know we have a long-term donation stream coming as aid to the islands. Janine particularly knows the importance of this in rebuilding islands like Bawa, which will be a long-term process. And if all goes well, we plan to implement similar ongoing projects in other nearby islands. So, thank you so much Janine for your vision and gracious efforts!
· Our friend Bayliss in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina printed up 15,000 business cards for us. They say “participate & follow Indonesia’s outer island TSUMANI RELIEF with Sumatran Surfariis”, and on the back it lists our recommended ways to make contributions. Bayliss also gave a presentation to the Surfrider Foundation and they agreed to help out. They are having a benefit on the 19th of February to help support our cause, and are asking all the donations be made out to the “Sumatran Surfariis Relief Effort”. It’s just a really, really extraordinary effort on his part, and we can’t thank Bayliss enough.
· We cannot forget all the individuals that have donated to one of our forms of relief. Hal (in Australia) and myself (in the states) have received over 80 individual donations in the mail alone. That doesn’t even include the people that have donated online through IDEP or the Clean Ocean Foundation. It would too long of a list to include everyone, but there were a few people in particular we wanted to thank for their generosity:
Gary, Joey, and Ali Schuberg
Daddo of the Gallery at Gypsy Meadows
Paul and Denise Chamberlain
S. Redmond and J. Verryt
John and Ellen Mepham
Glen T. Takaichi
· I mentioned Robert Wilson of Rip Curl Indonesia in our previous update, but I feel he deserves a second mention. Though I’ve seen about 99% positive energy throughout this whole relief process, it’s a sad fact that in rare instances some people and organizations have looked to build their image by taking credit for others work. It is a very rare occurrence, but it really saddens me when it happens because ANY help is good help, and people shouldn’t have to try to buffer their accomplishments because anything is appreciated. But Robert Wilson is the REAL DEAL. That guy has gone above the call of duty into some of most badly affected areas, and he’s done it with 110% commitment. If anything, his accomplishments and praises have been underplayed. Good on ya, Robert – keep up the good work.
· Lastly, I want to thank my partners, and the founders of this company. I have no idea how I worked it out with the Karma Gods to meet you people, but I consider myself so very, very lucky. Thank you to Christina, Ovi, Om and his entire family, Alyssa, AK, Aki, Herman, Yossi, Elvis, Andy, Odek, all the crew on all of our boats (all 30+ of them) – so many others. And last, but not least, Scuzz. You’re my hero, mate.
This update could go on and on, but you hopefully can see my point. There are a lot of unsung heroes that haven’t received much mention in our regular updates that deserve as much credit as anyone. So sorry to anyone I’ve omitted; undoubtedly there are several, and you’ve all played a part. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity and positive attitudes.
LAST MINUTE UPDATE
Christina informed me today that they received a package in Padang from a Mr. David Presley. The package contained relief supplies, and also contained a letter that said:
I have been following your great efforts to help the Indonesian people following the tsunami. In 1993 I visited the island of Simeulue for a week surfing and stayed with a family (ed: a picture was enclosed) in the village at Suaklamatan on the southwest coast. Donating some money to the relief organizations did not feel sufficient so I also went to the local hardware store and the results are enclosed. Please distribute the parcel however and wherever you see fit.
Unfortunately, Mr. Presley didn’t leave an email address in the letter so Christina has no way of contacting him from Padang. So, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank him, and let him know we got the package and we’ll get it to the village, promise. Scuzz says he thinks he can get the parcel directly to the village, but we’re not sure if we can get it directly to the family as many villagers have moved. But we will certainly try. Thanks again!
The aid efforts continue in the island chains off the west coast of Sumatra. Dr. Ben arrived back in Padang after an amazing effort up north with SurfAid. He reports that the Alafan province, in northernmost Simeulue and the closest province to the epicenter, continues to receive aid and care. Quite a few different groups are working up there in what is becoming a very long-term rebuilding project.
As you travel west and south around the coast of Simeulue you come past the small island of Lekon, and a bit further south is the province of Salang. This has also been badly affected and some of the villages have moved kilometers inland from the coast. Alyssa and Jude were the first to visit there, delivering supplies, love and medical care. Since their first visit, Matt George and the SSRO team, with Alyssa onboard, dropped off additional supplies, medical clinics and rebuilding assistance. A big portion of the supplies we delivered was fishing gear, including canoes that the team bought on Siberut (the northernmost island in the Mentawais) and painted on their way north. They were often greeted with open arms and warm receptions from the villages.
SurfAid has also been running medical clinics in Salang. They have been giving immunizations, treating patients, and even some pro surfers have been seen up there joining their cause lately. Their next move is to visit the Banyak island chain, located southeast of Simeulue. This is a chain of 99 islands and has some dangerous and shallow waterways. Scuzz has been working with Dr. Ben and Barrenjoey’s owners John and Byron, who will be bringing the Barrenjoey down to the Banyaks to establish medical clinics there. The contacts Scuzz made on his earlier visits and the information he gathered while surveying the land proved invaluable to SurfAid in terms of what areas to target and the best ways to do get there. In comparison to Nias and Simeulue, the Banyaks weren’t too badly hit, but Scuzz knows that medical help and care is needed throughout the island chain, as it is throughout Indonesia and many parts of Asia.
Yesterday Scuzz met again with a group of Indonesians that are working to develop a 1-hectare fruit and veggie garden on the island of Bawa. The Woodleigh School in Baxter, Victoria, Australia is sponsoring this project, and a percent of their teachers wages are being put aside each pay period to be allocated for Bawa’s development. Woodleigh has now made three payments and their sponsorship will change the island in many many ways in the long run. Unlike financial aid plans, this will be sustainable and carry on for generations. Over the next month, with the help from the Woodleigh School, we will be employing more than 30 locals on Bawa, feeding them and giving them something that will in turn improve their health and standard of living. In addition, it will give them an additional source of income, as the will be able to sell the fruits and veggies back to passing surf charter boats. They will also be able to sell their produce to the main town of Hinako and possibly even Sirombu on Nias.
We will keep all informed of this progress through photos and stories. Scuzz cannot thank the Woodleigh School enough. He spent three years at this amazing school, which he describes as one that breeds thinking outside the box and encourages creativity though activities like pottery, horseback riding and skin diving camps, 30-minutes periods for reading or admiring the garden with no talking, and an hour of various other activities each day. Scuzz spent much of his time their diving and learning about aquariums to the point of breeding sea horses and keeping octopi. Scuzz’s dad Hal, who has also been instrumental in this, also teaches at Woodleigh and along with all of their kind teachers gives a share of his wages each pay period to this project.
Today, Ovi, and Ajo have made another journey north to Sibolga. They will travel tonight to Gunung Sitoli by ferry, where they will buy machetes, shovels, hoes and materials to build the fencing for the garden on Bawa. The will be clearing only juvenile trees to create the barrier. Ovi has been amazing. This is his home island and this is his family’s land we have contracted for three years. His whole family came to Padang to celebrate his older brother’s life. His older brother was lost in Banda Aceh, where he was a very respected intelligence policeman. While the whole family was in Padang, we had a chance to meet and discuss the project. They are a smart family and see the huge benefit to the island, and hence there were very happy and eager for this project to begin.
Ovi plans to have a “whole island meeting’ when he returns and invite everyone on the island for coffee, tea and a talk. He will explain the importance of this for Bawa and for the long-term sustenance of its villagers. Scuzz and sister Alyssa spent a few days with these people and they basically explained to everyone that they need to start growing and eating fruit and veggies. Their health is affected greatly by their diet, which mainly consists of fish and rice. Since they tsunami, it’s been tough to even get those items, but they certainly don’t have a good source for fruits and veggies. They replied very calmly that the pigs eat the seedlings, and of course this is why we have to build a very good fence!
Along with Ovi is Ajo, a horticulturalist we have employed to “ajar”, or teach, the locals about what is best needed. He will assess the land and has various measuring sticks for PH levels and quantity of salt in the soil. Certain varieties of fruits and veggies grow better near water, while others like less water. Ajo will be working with us for at least a couple of months doing things such as choosing the seeds, planting them and working with the locals.
The Toorak School in Mt. Eliza (Vicco, Australia) is also looking to do a similar project, and we are in the process of working with UNESCO and some local NGOs on Siberut to set up a hospital, a volleyball court, and soccer field, as well as looking into long-term education and conservation. The cost would be approximately $4000us a year for producing “Laggai” – a term for land, earth, home, village and stone in Siberut’s local dialect. This is an amazing publication that will run out of funding at the end of this year. It tells the locals in their language about the importance of their forests, about erosion, about how to catch mud crabs, about the symptoms of malaria and treatments, about how to fish in the best manner, and about the importance of growing fruit and veggies – among many other things. This is one of very few islands left off Sumatra with any primary rainforest and a place that has four species of primates not found anywhere else on earth. It’s also a place with numerous bird, insect and plant species, and it’s a place where its people still live in amazing harmony with nature, using it for food, medicine, shelter – for everything they need.
Another super kind effort has been put forth recently from John Henley, the citizens of Echuca, and Echuca Regional Health. They recently sent a giant container load of hospital furniture and supplies including 35 hospital beds, 32 mattresses, many tables, chairs, wheelchairs, benches and various other pieces of hospital equipment over to Padang. In addition, the container included tons of tools collected by Noel and the folks at tools4tsunami.org. John and the folks at Echuca packed the container, painted it, wrote all the documentation themselves. Here is a brief note from John that shows his passionate views on the place he lives, the people of Echuca that donated, and his feelings on the relief efforts in Indonesia:
Echuca is a fabulous place to live. I am writing because you have helped make this town what it is. Your generosity in both time and money in helping with Echuca Regional Health’s efforts to assist the people in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, devastated by the Tsunami, was done without question, with grace and goodwill.
I am sure the people of Padang will also think very kindly of the people of Echuca, its Hospital and your Organization.
Thank you once again.
The container will be taken out to Siberut’s main port and town, Maura Siberut for distribution. We have talked with the local government and the local doctors in Siberut about accepting the contents of this container, and the plans are all set. Matt George and Ulia of SSRO will be working with us in Siberut to develop a long-term plan where medical students can go out into the field and work with the local doctors in treating people and learning. Among other things, we hope of the universities will grant them credit and financial backing to assist in projects such as the rebuilding and education of nutritional crops on Bawa.
Six kilometers north of Maura Siberut is Mailepet and the head quarters for UNESCO, where Dr. Ben and his amazing wife Amanda spent many months working with the locals, putting their vast knowledge of the language, medicine and culture to it’s best use. In addition, Ken Meyers, a Belgian UNESCO employee, has been heading this operation for the past 7 years. Ken, too, is an amazing guy who knows the Siberut people, speaks their language and cares for their future. Lastly Christophe, a primatologist also living on Siberut in the north, is looking to start an eco adventure resort in an attempt to give the locals another source of income besides logging, as well as keeping the rare primate species environment safe for the future. These people are our partners on Siberut, and they will be out there controlling day-to-day events and making sure everything is done to its best. Thanks to all of you.
On April 2nd, Scuzz will make his first trip back up to the northern areas with a special group of surfers and concerned citizens. This will be a month-long journey on SOUTHERN CROSS in which the will travel through the Batu islands chain (also referred to as The Telos), then up along the affected coast of Nias, before heading over to Simeulue and working around the island in ways of support, education and help. They will be distributing goods and love to all. Much of what Scuzz will be talking to villagers about how much their health is affected by their diet, as well as stressing the point that 80% of the problems they complained of during Alyssa’s clinics could have been prevented with better health and diet. This trip will end in Sinabang, the main town of Simeulue, before a new group of guests arrive to do the return leg. The guests on the return leg are all long-time return guests of Sumatran Surfariis, and include firemen from Santa Cruz with paramedic training and good hearts, plus Thierry the French professor (who has a pretty big heart of his own ). It will be a good chance for them to check out our progress and also work with the locals. They will also be putting in some moorings and will be hoping to have a “bakar babi”, or pig bbq night, each trip on this island as a way to celebrate their work and another little way to add to their economy.
Another key passenger will be Mara Wolford. Mara is an amazing Aussie women who runs her own business in the French alps, and has been instrumental in running some amazing fundraisers and passing the hat around for the people. She has been tireless in working for this cause, it and will be amazing to meet her and be with her to see the islands and the villagers that she’s worked so hard to help firsthand. AK will also be on this voyage and will be making another movie of the area, its people and what is being done. On the past voyage with SSRO, while everyone was taking pictures of death and destruction, AK had kids smiling and playing, and in turn they gave him THE best photo we’ve have seen out of all this. The photo is the first one on our home page, and we extend that message to ALL those that have helped.
One of our long-term goals is to sponsor a village in northern Simeulue and do some reconstruction work there. Our immediate goal in this project is to locate people who have language skills and experience in Indonesia that are willing to live rough and spend a minimum of one month up there. We would also love to work with another school. We would need additional long-term plans like the one Woodleigh came up with to donate sustainable funds to this project. The short term bleeding has been slowed, so this is the key now – the long term. It is easy to build something and have proof for the donors, but the harder thing is to sustain it. Ideally, we’d like to help create new revenue streams for the villages, a way to future earnings and long-term health. As mentioned in earlier updates, the fruit and veggie gardens on Bawa will be the litmus test, and if successful we plan to do the same in Simeulue and other northern regions.
We cannot conclude this update without thanking the folks at Clean Ocean. Peter Smith is the president of the Clean Ocean Foundation, and he came over in February along with the guys who started up the Balin company and Oke Surfboards they to surf and see the islands. Some governments are warning against this and some people are worried. Silk air has cancelled all flights from Singapore to Padang until mid-April. The dollars that tourists and surfers bring over to spend here has an amazing trickle down affect. It goes far and wide and also breeds much stoke and goodwill. These guys coming out now was a big part of that. It spreads the word that it is safe to travel here, and the locals also make an earn. During their trip, the boys cleaned and treated a lady’s foot for an axe wound, treated local boy’s rash, bought local carvings, walked around the villages, surfed with the kids and took lots of photos of them. All of this provides great energy and something this place thrives on.
Along with this, uncle Pete and the Clean Ocean team have been dedicating a massive amount of time to backing Sumatran Surfariis. They have been collecting all monies and transferring them to us in a tax-deductible way, plus sending out receipts to all. They have also organized fundraisers, including BIG ONE this Sunday in Vicco, with over 20 bands, activities for kids, comedians, and more. They have also organized drop off points for goods to be shipped over and are looking at another container load right now.
Pete has an amazing energy and a million ideas. His time is completely dedicated to keeping the local beaches back home in Australia clean. He is very excited about the long-term plans and may come on our month long trip from April 18 – May 18, distributing supplies along the Nias and Simeulue coasts. Please check out www.cleanocean.org – it’s a great site and one of the few we have been linked to for years now.
We also want to thank Michael Robinson-Chavez who was also on the same trip with Peter and the Balin/Oke guys. Michael works as a photographer with the Washington Post and spent a few weeks in Aceh working with a medical team in some of the worst hit areas. The organization he worked for in Calang is called CARDI, which operates under the auspices of the International Rescue Committee, or IRC. They are a great crew of people from all over the world: Afghanistan, Ireland, USA, etc. As you will see shortly as soon as Slayer can add the photos to this update, his images are incredible. The pics are beautiful, touching, heart wrenching, amazing. You can see additional photos taken by Michael at www.washingtonpost.com in the photos/video section, which appears at the top of the home page. In addition, you can also view some of Michael’s work at www.northernshortcourse.com. Thanks again for your great work and positive vibes, Michael!!
That’s it for now. We’ll do our best to keep you posted about our relief efforts as we simultaneously continue to deliver world-class surf trips. Take care!
MARCH 31ST UPDATE
First, we want to apologize for this report going out a little later than we had hoped. It seems the media was a little more prepared for this situation, and we’ve been barraged with requests from them. In addition, three of our boats were out at sea when this happened, so our immediate concerns were with the families of these surfers. In short, the Sumatran Surfariis family was extremely lucky. There was no damage to our hotel or boats, no reported deaths in Padang, and the passengers had no idea there was even a quake. Everyone immediately tied to our company is fine, so we feel very fortunate. The citizens of Nias, Simeulue, and the Banyaks weren’t as fortunate, which we will get into much greater detail shortly. But to the concerned family members and media looking for information on our guests, everyone is fine, and it’s likely that their biggest worry is scoring perfect surf at the moment.
Onto the bigger news, the latest reports have indicated that there is widespread destruction through the Banyaks, Nias and Simeulue islands. In addition, some of the smaller outlying islands of Telos and Hinakos have reported damage. A good percentage of our information is still being verified, as much of the communication in these islands has been cut off since the quake. The phones and sat link on Nias have been down since the quake first hit, so initially we couldn’t get firsthand reports throughout the islands. But the photos and calls from our friends in these islands are coming in, so be sure to check back later tonight for a more detailed update with specific info and photos of the devastation. The changes to the islands are simply astounding, as you will see in the photos.
On April 2nd Scuzz will be heading up through the Telos and Hinakos, eventually to Nias, Simeulue, and the Banyaks, surveying the scene the scene and reporting back to us daily. We will then use Asia to depart on April 6th for a full-on relief mission with the information we gather. We will follow that up with another relief mission on Southern Cross on April 18th. On Asia, we will be taking (at least) essential survival items such as rice, noodles, water, kerosene and basic supplies for eating. It should be pointed out that April 2nd trip scheduled on the Southern Cross was set to be JUST a surf trip, but the 8 Californian guests have graciously agreed spend part of their time helping with the aid and clearing of rubble. In addition, the Southern Cross trip departing on April 18th was scheduled to do a changeover in Sinabang (Simeulue) on May 2nd. We are canceling this changeover, as it would be taking planes and fuel from those who need it more. We are not sure that it would’ve been possible to fly anyway, as we have heard that area is badly damaged and the airport may actually be out of use.
In terms of damage to “our” islands, meaning the islands in Northern Sumatra that we’ve surfed and pioneered consistently for the last 5 years, the damage is probably WORSE than the first quake. The national news agencies may not be reporting the issue with as much passion as the December 26th quake because it did not cause a subsequent tsunami that spread throughout the Indian Ocean, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. However, for the citizens of Nias, Simeulue, and the Banyaks, the impact may actually be worse. When you see news reports that 2,000 – 3,000 people may have died, you have to realize that these are not heavily populated areas, so 2,000 – 3,000 casualties is actually a very large percentage of their population. If this quake actually happened off the coast of India or Sri Lanka or any other heavily populated area, the world would definitely be talking about it with greater fervor. We at Sumatran Surfariis hold these islands and it’s villagers sacred, and we will continue to do whatever we can to help provide relief and rebuilding aid. The death toll may not be as high, but the physical damage to property is enormous. In Teluk Dalam for example, not too many deaths have been reported, but early information is that the town basically been leveled. A large percentage of the facilities have been destroyed, and it’s rumored that people are essentially begging for, and it some cases stealing, food. The situation in Gunung Sitoli, an even larger city, is essentially the same, with reports of up to 80% of the buildings being destroyed. The same is being reported in Sinabang in Simeulue.
Something not yet really touched on are the actually geographical changes to these islands. Dr. Kerry Sieh is a geologist at Caltech in Pasadena, California who has been helping with the aid projects, and helping us to understand what’s actually been happening, since the December 26th quake. He recently appeared on just on TV in California and said some very interesting things. Kerry said it was basically an aftershock because its location in the same general area as the Dec 26th quake, but that it was a great quake on it’s own due it’s size. A British scientist published an article Nature Magazine that said that the December 26th quake put stress on the same fracture zone, but further South. They didn’t know how much stress it would take before it failed, but Kerry said it looks like it just failed with this 8.7 quake on March 28th. Again, we’ll have some very specific details about this in our next update set to go out tonight.
As a result, early reports are that there are MAJOR changes to the geography in Nias, Simeulue, the Banyaks, and the Hinakos. The most dramatic change is that portions of ALL these islands have been lifted significantly. Some of the areas in the Banyaks have risen up to 2 meters, Simeulue has reports of being lifted 3 meters, and Asu in the Hinakos has varying reports of being lifted from 2 to 5 meters! When you consider that the most significant lifting due to the previous earthquake was, at most, 2 meters in only the northern end of Simeulue, you’ll realize just how drastic of a change this is. For an idea of how significant a 1 – 2 meter change looks, take a look at the pics from our January 28th update. The first few photos we’re getting in show that the geographical changes are much MORE significant than this, and on several different islands. This had made travel to and on these islands very slow and dangerous. There are many roads that have not been sussed out yet, many bridges are down or unsafe, and there is a massive amount of driftwood in the water. A trip that normally takes 10 hours from Sibolga to Nias now takes 18 – 20, and pretty much all the nautical maps have been rendered inaccurate.
What does this mean for us as a surf charter business? Well, our first priority is doing what we can to help the people affected by this quake. We employ a large crew of 30+ that is almost entirely local Indonesians, and several have family in the affected areas. Additionally, we employ and additional 30 villagers on the island of Bawa in the Hinakos that are building a sustainable, long-term fruit and vegetable garden that in the future could be an essential resource to providing fresh food to their neighbors. This is all made possible by the selfless donations from the Woodleigh School in Victoria and the Clean Ocean Foundation. We know these areas very well, and we are already setting in motion a plan to help the rebuilding efforts that stretches BEYOND the April 18th trip on Southern Cross. In other words, we’ve already got 3 relief trips scheduled, and Scuzz has almost locked in a couple more boats to do additional relief projects after that. We’re going gung-ho on the relief mission once again.
But in terms of surfing these waters, we are looking at things in a positive light and are expecting it to be a year of discovery. This is why we all started this company in the first place: to find and surf beautiful, remote, untouched waves. With all this movement and lifting in the islands of Northern Sumatra, things will undoubtedly have changed. We expect that many of the reefs we surfed will be gone or worsened, while others could be improved significantly. But most exciting to us, we hope to find new breaks. As a company (Scuzz primarily), we have found, surfed, and named many spots that are no longer a secret. We do the best we can to keep the secrets in house, but inevitably they leak out somehow. With all the changes, we hope that “followers” will be playing catch up for several years to come. We will have to be careful, considerate, and cautious while navigating these waters in the beginning, but we have the best captains and crews in the business, and we’re confident we’ll find many new gems while being helpful and conscious of the needs of the villages during our travels.
Lots of people have already asked what they can do to help. At this point, the most efficient way to help is by sending a donation to one of our recommended organizations here. In time, we will probably have opportunities for those adventurous souls who wish to travel to these islands and help in person. But for now, your donations go a long way. Several have started very creative fundraisers, such as art auctions, movie premiers, cookie drives at work, and monthly withdrawals from their paychecks through a program organized at their companies. If you’re truly passionate about helping out, we encourage you to pursue a similar avenue of your own. A big thanks goes out to Mark Willet and Gary “The Dad” Schuberg (again!) for their unbelievably generous donations almost immediately after the second quake hit.
We wanted to get out some information to our readers as soon as possible so they are not left in the dark. But again, we will be providing you much more detailed and specific information, and photos, in the update that should go out roughly 12 –15 hours after this one, so keep checking back. As always, thank you for your support and positive vibes.
-SLAYER the Web Dork
First, there are no “April Fools” jokes in this update. It’s all very serious and heavy stuff that we’re encountering. We have heard a fair bit of good news sprinkled throughout the last few days, such as the fact that the missing surfers in Sorake/Lagundri from Australia, France, the UK, and Sweden have all been found safe and sound. However, most of the news has been devastating, and we’re all trying to sort through it right now.
For a bit of clarity, I think it will help to read the following information compiled primarily by the World Health Organization (WHO). It views things from the standpoint of a somewhat larger NGO. It focuses heavily on the impact on Nias and can miss some of the small stuff (such as the trauma in the Hinakos), but it should give you a firmer grasp on exactly what has happened, and what is still happening. The report was created on the 29th, so we’ve had lots of new information, as you can read at the bottom part of the update.
TIMELINE OF EARTHQUAKE AND LOCATION:
· A great earthquake was noted at 23:09:36 hrs, local time at epicenter, on Monday, March 28, 2005. The magnitude was 8.7 on the Richter scale and located in NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA. (by a seismologist). The epicenter located 90 km south of Sinabang with 30 Km Depth 2.065 N 97.010
· No Major Tsunami has been reported near the epicenter as yet.
· The earthquake was also felt in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Cocos Island, Australia
· Nias Island, Nias Province, Capital Gunung Sitoli, and Teluk Dalam (District Capital of South Nias)
· Simeulue Island, NAD Province
· Banyak Islands
· Parts of the Telos and Hinakos
POPULATION AT RISK
The affected population hit by the earthquake was not reported as yet, however Vice President Jusuf Kalla quotes “it is predicted and it’s still rough estimate that the number of victims of death may be between 1,000 and 2,000″
· According to the information received from MOH and various sources, 1,000 persons were killed and injured in Nias Island and 200 in the Simeulue Island. However, these figures need to be confirmed by the ongoing field assessments.
· 2,000 people became homeless and IDPs in Nias (note: this figure is grossly underestimated; be sure to read our more accurate information below).
IMPACT ON HEALTH SERVICE AND HEALTH RELATED FACILITIES
· Reports from local authorities stated that 70% of buildings collapsed in Gunung Sitoli town (Nias).
· Telecommunication facilities are totally destroyed.
· Bridges were also destroyed and land transportation is blocked.
· The airport is still functioning and small planes can land.
· The electricity is cut partially.
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND W.H.O RESPONSES TO THE DISASTER
· Communicate through early warning system to all parties concerned, including field offices.
· MOH and WHO Emergency relief operation meeting organized at 07:45 hrs on 29 March 2005.
· WHO release 10,000 US$ immediately to MOH for emergency relief operation on 29 March 2005.
· North Sumatra provincial Health Office immediately sent Emergency Brigade Team to Nias.
· Special Emergency Surgery team lead by Prof. Idrus from Makasar, South Sulawesi province will arrive at Nias on 29 March 2005.
· Emergency medical supplies sent to affected areas. WHO warehouses in Medan and Aceh ready to transport emergency medical supplies according to need assessment.
· 50 medical professionals including specialist from Ministry of Health sent to Nias for rapid assessment and emergency relief operation
· WHO Health coordinator from Meulaboeh arrived Nias with French Red Cross Team 29 March afternoon.
· MOH, PHO and WHO joint rapid assessment team will visit affected areas starting from 30 March 2004.
· WHO has strengthened its’ office in Medan to support emergency relief services and closely monitor the situation in cooperation with MOH, Provincial and District Health Offices.
· UN DMC meeting organized at 12:00 on 29 March 2004 at Jakarta.
· Many UN organizations and NGOs are in the process of visiting the affected areas.
PROVINCIAL AND DISTRICT RESPONSE TO THE DISASTER
· Victims evacuated.
· District health office already established health post at sub-district and district level.
· 25 food packages were distributed to the victims.
· Mobile medical service for affected victims, injuries and trauma care.
· Shelter, water, food including infant and supplementary food for children, clothes, blankets, sanitary measures and emergency lights.
· Operational funding supports for health staff to mobilize and provide health services to affected areas.
· Special transportation services to reach affected areas.
· Satellite telecommunication support.
Though the death toll from the report seems to be fairly accurate, it appears this report may have significantly underestimated the structural damage to these islands. Also, it does not even touch on the geographical changes that have taken place throughout Nias, Simeulue, the Banyaks, and the Hinakos. From our reports coming in from IDEP, the fantastic NGO we’ve been working with constantly since the first quake, the numbers are more staggering. On Nias, estimations are now that more than 20,000 villagers have been displaced, while more than 80% of the buildings THROUGHOUT THE ISLAND have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. On Simeulue, about 50% of the buildings were seriously damaged throughout the island. The capital, Sinabang, was hit even harder, losing more than 80% of its infrastructure. An estimated additional 8,000 people in need of shelter and emergency aid are now being added to the list of 23,000 from the tsunami on December 26th. As you’ll see in this update, reefs are lifting and debris in the water is making sea navigation difficult, and virtually impossible at night. The Banyaks were the closest landmass to the quake’s epicenter. The islands are very difficult to access and reports of damage there have been slow to emerge. Early reports from IDEP are that roughly 5,000 have been displaced in this area.
The mood of the villagers throughout the islands can best be described as discouraged, fearful, and desperate. Our reports from Yandi in Teluk Dalam are that everyone is scared to sleep anywhere indoors for fear another quake could cause their buildings to collapse. Everyone is sleeping outside on the grass and it has been pouring rain. Villagers are fighting over the few tarps they have, as well as battling over the few items of fresh food that they can find. Many villagers have cuts and injuries that cannot be properly treated at this time, so we are in a huge hurry to get out there and help. It sounds like this is the situation throughout most of the cities mentioned above – it’s really quite catastrophic.
Many of the villagers simply want OFF their islands, but even that can be unsafe. Our mate Rock, who was on the 180-ton boat “Nauli”, was anchored at Asu at the time and got the scare of his life when his behemoth of a tugboat was drug at anchor. He said the first jolt was like being punched from below. The tide then went way out as he rushed to evacuate the whole island of over 100 people. He feared another tsunami was going to hit, but fortunately it never did. However, he now estimates the island is now 3 – 5 meters higher than it initially was. That’s amazing work by Rock to think of the islanders first.
One of the most dramatic pieces of evidence of the lifting of the reefs comes from our friend Willy who runs the Benang Island Simeulue Resort, www.simeulue.com. Willy is a really good-natured fella who seems to have maintained his sense of humor throughout this entire ordeal. For example, when he sent Scuzz an email updating him on his situation, the title was “How Much Can a Koala Bear?” But there’s not joking about the fact that the poor guy, and all the citizens of Simeulue, have been through hell since the first quake. They were all just still recovering from the tsunami when the latest quake hit, and it hit them many times harder than the first one. Most of the aerial photos in this update are from Willy, who had to evacuate his friend Jonny and Dewi’s dad. Jonny and Dewi’s dad described it as the scare of a lifetime. The aerial view of the large house is Willy’s house. He said that previously there was no more than 3 meters of land in front of his house before the water touched the shore. Now there is over 30 meters of land. The house itself, seen close up in the photo with a shocked Johnny pictured in front, incurred major structural damage. Willy also said in that in the photo with the dry-docked boat the reef used to stick out about a meter from the shore; now it juts out like a major peninsula. It’s just amazing, shocking stuff, and this is a perfect example of the destruction and changes they are seeing throughout Simeulue.
So now the question is what’s being done, and what’s going to be done. IDEP got the ball rolling early on Tuesday morning by deploying of a team of experienced Indonesian Search & Rescue (SAR) & evacuation volunteers who traveled by ferry from Sibolga (Aceh) to Nias’ devastated capital Gunung Sitoli. More local volunteers followed quickly behind them, taking the ferry at 10 pm on Thursday night. The first team is currently working on rescuing people from the rubble and assisting in local refugee camps. The second team will also facilitate the reestablishment of basic communications on the island, and will travel overland to Mabrehe (also on Nias) to repair an SSB radio tower that an IDEP team installed there one month ago. IDEP’s aid delivery vessel, the Endless Sun, is on its way to the area now, stocked with hundreds of tons of aid, and should arrive in Sibolga on Tuesday the 5th. If support is available they will try to acquire some small fishing boats that can be used to facilitate aid delivery on the islands. Much of the aid on the Endless Sun was already earmarked for urgent needs on Aceh’s mainland, so the vessel’s project manager is currently in Banda Aceh organizing additional aid from the UN to be loaded onto the boat for delivery to the most recently devastated islands.
Sumatran Surfariis has it’s own very specific mission, which we hope to coordinate with IDEP to ensure that the most ground is covered in the most efficient manner possible. Tomorrow night, Southern Cross will set out on its April 2-16 mission that was initially set to be JUST a surf trip, but the Californian guests have agreed to help spend part of their time on relief and aid projects. The boat will be somewhat full with surf gear, but we will be using every bit of available space to bring supplies as we travel up through the Telos and Hinakos, on to Nias, and eventually up to the Banyaks and Simeulue. This trip will be essential for information gathering and surveying the new terrain. After some juggling to our surf trip schedule (and again some gracious understanding from our passengers to change boats), we’ve arranged to have our second largest boat, Asia, available for a full-on aid and relief mission from April 9 – 29. We will use the information gathered by the first journey on the Southern Cross, and we also hope to have Samantha from IDEP on this leg. Southern Cross will then head back out for an additional relief mission from April 18 – May 2. This trip was originally scheduled to be our sort of “first trip back” to the affected areas and we planned on doing some relief work, research, and rebuilding during this trip anyway. However, with the recent quake, the urgency and focus of this trip has changed dramatically. The Southern Cross is then set to go back out from May 4 – 18 with a group of 8 surfers, but again we’re hoping that the crew will be enthusiastic about helping those in need for at least a small portion of their trip. Lastly, we have a few passengers that we are hoping to move so that we can free up Asia so it can do one last relief mission from April 30 – May 14. It will require a great deal of corporation and understanding to get this last leg, but if we pull it off, we’ll essentially have 2 or our larger boats out in the water from early April to mid May to provide relief to these islands.
We are just a small group of surfers, but we are doing what we can to help, and it’s nice to know that many of our plans have been implemented and are beginning to show rewards. One of the projects that we speak of most often, and that we are most proud of, is the building of the “pig-impenetrable” fruit and vegetable garden on Bawa. With the generous funding from the Woodleigh School in Victoria and the Clean Ocean Foundation, the garden is really taking shape. We are employing 30 local Indonesians for this project, including Ajo the horticulturalist. He’s been instrumental this project by performing essential tasks such as testing the soil, measuring water levels, designing the field, directing us as to the best seeds to buy, and many other key tasks. We feel good that we are providing the villagers with both an immediate source of income, and a sustainable one for the long run. For example, had this quake happened in a year, the villagers of Bawa could have helped many by providing fresh fruit and vegetables to those in need. Also, the villagers can always sell their product to the visiting surfers in the area. Sumatran Surfariis’ very own Ovi, who grew up and lives on Bawa, has also been a key player in this project. Ovi is a personal friend of this webmaster, and I almost get choked up when I hear about how much he has emerged as a leader to his village, and also a no-questions-asked helping force to the nearby islands of Nias, Asu, Simeulue and the Banyaks.
We will hopefully have new inspirational stories to report in future updates. The Indonesians are an extremely resilient and upbeat group of people, and we are confident we can help them land back on their feet soon. Please consider donating to our relief effort. There is information on how to make a tax-deductible donation directly to our mission through the Clean Ocean Foundation here. Clean ocean will issue you a receipt which you can file for your taxes, and we can personally guarantee you that we will use the money in the most grass roots way there is – by traveling to the most remote, inaccessible places in Northern Sumatra and delivering aid and medical attention in person to those who need it most.
Thanks, and we’ll keep you posted. Take care.
APRIL 4 UPDATE
Hello everyone. This is just a brief update to you keep you posted on our latest findings, as well as the status of our relief mission. We should have much more detailed information and photos soon, as Scuzz, the Californian crew, and the rest of our aid workers set foot on some of the devastated regions of northern Sumatra.
As you can see from the photos on this update, we stocked every available nook and cranny of the Southern Cross with relief supplies to take on it’s way up through the Telos, Hinakos, Nias, the Banyaks, and Simeulue. This wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of the Californian guests who were originally scheduled for just a normal surf trip. Mike Stenkilsson, Darren Stiles, Kevin McCarthy, David Lewis, Matt Stevens, Jeff Sivas, Matt Carrillo, and Bowen Ota all need to be thanked for not only sacrificing a great deal of comfort and elbow room on this journey, but also for agreeing to spend part of their surf trip helping those in desperate need of aid in this region. They are bringing as much essential survival material that they can fit, such as rice, noodles, fresh fruit and veggies, water, kerosene, and basic supplies for eating and digging. This trip will serve as a major surveying project so that the trips to follow can carry more specific products, and more of them, to the proper places.
The recent tragedy has also inspired one of our long-time return customers to make a special trip out to help those in need. Luis Renato Brand (a.k.a. “Mano”) is a surgeon from Curitiba, Brazil who usually comes out at least once a year to spend several weeks surfing with us. However this year Mano began a university job and was finding it impossible to come over with his new schedule. But after this most recent catastrophe, the pull to help was too great: “My mind tells me to come and leave all my jobs here and stay in indo as much it is needed.” This webmaster can tell you from personal experience that Mano does AMAZING work. I fell forward on a shallow reef up north, cutting my right hand badly. I didn’t even want to look at it at the time, but today I have trouble finding any evidence I was every even cut. Luis’ skills will be an extraordinary asset to the relief effort, but equally important is his positive and heartwarming personality. He puts everyone’s mind at ease and has a great way of relating to all cultures, and that’s exactly the type of people we need to make this relief effort successful.
The help cannot come soon enough, as the news continues to be heartbreaking. Word just came in from Scuzz just before he left that an Australian Aid helicopter had crashed in Teluk Dalam. We’ll give you more information on this as it develops, but preliminary information from Scuzz is that 9 of the 14 passengers have perished in this crash. Our hearts go out to the family members of those who lost their lives while unselfishly trying to help others.
We have also received further word from Dr. Kerry Sieh, our geologist friend from Caltech. He said the earthquake on March 26th appears to have been caused by a 3 – 10 meter slip on the megathrust under southern Simeulue to southern Nias, with the biggest patch of slip between Nias and Simeulue, west of the Banyaks. Members of Kerry’s crew will be heading out to the Mentawais and Batus this week to download their GPS units and send the data back to Caltech ASAP to see if anything strange has happened there. They have already received information from their stations in Bulasat, Tello, Singabang, and Sikaui, which should be processed within the next two days. This information should be very telling, and it should also give them a good idea whether or not anything fishy happened in the Mentawais or Batus.
Kerry himself will be back in Sumatra from mid-May through early-June to continue documenting what happened. In the meantime, he has asked Scuzz to check on the small island of Memong, which lies a few hundred meters north of the equator. Kerry says the land rises to about 4 meters above sea level at the highest point, with much of the island rising only to about 2 meters. He feels that even if a much smaller tsunami hit that didn’t register on the radar, even one of only 3 meters, they may have lost everything. There are about 20 wooden houses in the village Kerry befriended, so our thoughts are with the villagers of this small island.
As we said at the end of our last update, we hope to have more positive stories to report soon. But as of now, things are still very, very heavy. Please send you best wishes and positive vibes to the citizens of this area, as they will surely need it. And if you want to make a contribution to our relief effort, there is information on how to do so here.
Terima kasih – Slayer the web dork.
On April 2, 2005, Sumatran Surfariis set out on the first wave of our second relief mission to northern Sumatra, headed by our founder, Chris “Scuzz” Scurrah. On a trip that was originally scheduled to be “just” a surf trip to northern Sumatra, Scuzz and his Californian guests stocked our largest boat, the Southern Cross, with as much essential survival material that they could fit, such as rice, noodles, fresh fruit and veggies, water, kerosene, and basic supplies for eating and digging. The trip is serving as a major surveying project so that the trips to follow can carry more specific products, and more of them, to the proper places. Tonight, April 9th, members of SurfAid and IDEP will take out Asia, our medium-range boat, to Gunung Sitoli and some of the small islands around Nias. Eric Lee of SurfAid and Sam from IDEP will be taking primarily medical supplies, and also picking up additional SurfAid workers on Nias. From there, they will attempt to reach the most remote islands and provide aid and medical care to the villagers that need help the most.
Again, this boat and relief trip would not have been available if it weren’t for unselfish acts by guests on our surf trips. Brad Turner, Steve Vanta, and Casey Cox from South Carolina graciously agreed to move their small crew from Asia to Afrika (the smallest boat in our fleet) mid-way through their surf trip so we could use Asia’s additional space and duel-engines to head up north. This is no small task one week into their trip in the middle of the Indian Ocean, especially when you consider group organizer Big Daddy Brad Turner is no small guy at about 6’5”, 250lbs. But Big Daddy knew it was the least he and the others could do to help so we could free up Asia for the mission on the 9th. We originally hoped that Matt George and members of the SSRO would be on this boat, but his friends will be coming on April 11th. Hopefully we can arrange a boat from our fleet for them to us ASAP as well. They have been super energetic, positive heroes already since the tsunami first hit, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
As Scuzz is out to sea, and the Pasti sat phone network still down, much of our information for this update is coming from other sources. One of the positive aspects of this quake is that it has brought together companies that have been competitors in surf charter business in the Mentawais and northern Sumatra in the past, and gotten them to work together for a common goal and bigger cause. Many of the veterans of the surf charter business realize that we would be NOWHERE without the generosity and kindness of the locals on the many small islands in western and northern Sumatra in which we surf, and it’s great to see that many companies are working as one to give back and help those locals that have given us so much so freely in the past.
One of the key players in the relief effort has been Rick Cameron and members of his Electric Lamb Mission (ELM), http://www.electriclamb.org. Rick has been a big player in the surf charter industry in Indo pretty much since its infancy, and we’ve definitely jockeyed over a few potential customers in the past. But it’s inspiring to see all the efforts he has made to help those in need. And Rick is far from the only one; many of the boats of the Quiksilver Travel fleet have come over to help, as well as countless smaller companies – too many for my brain to remember. Suffice it to say that EVERY BIT of aid from the companies involved goes a long way toward helping the local Indonesians back to their normal way of life.
The most recent reports from this area continue to be astounding, particularly in the realm of geographical changes. To put it bluntly, much of the coastlines on these islands look totally different. There will be more photos from Scuzz and his crew around April 16, but in the meantime you can see from the photo taken by Rick’s crew to get an idea of how things have changed. The shot was taken at high tide at Pulau Tepak in southern Simeulue. For reference, typical high tides would lap at the foundation of the house at the tree line before March 28. In an area where navigating, dockings, and beach landings were difficult BEFORE the quake, getting a boat close to land with relief and aid materials is nearly impossible now. Moving the boats at night is extremely high risk, so the window of time to get in and help is greatly shortened. It’s made the use of smaller boats and local fishermen imperative in order to reach the larger boats and carry in the goods bit by bit.
While some parties believe that worst is behind us, others acting on instinct are not so sure. Dr. Kerry Sieh, the geologist whom we’ve been working with since the December 26 tsunami, is the man who runs the GPS network in Sumatra. He feels there is no reason to believe that another big earthquake (or tsunami) are imminent. Dr. Kerry doesn’t feel villagers should take any special precautions that they cannot maintain over the next few months or year. He states that aftershocks will continue to be numerous, but they should last just a few seconds are very unlikely to generate another tsunami. However, though Dr. Kerry is more qualified than anyone to assess the situation, many boat crew and villagers are acting on their gut feelings and basically are scared. Rick stated that after seeing all the destruction and feeling the aftershocks shake his boat that he wonders if they are past the worst of this huge adjustment. And many of the villagers that have the means to leave are doing so, fleeing their islands in northern Sumatran and the Mentawais in huge numbers to what they perceive is safer ground.
In terms of scientific data, Dr. Kerry says the GPS station at the airport in Simeulue has moved by 2.3 meters to the southwest and 1.65 meters up. The receding of the water and the uplift of the GPS station means that the islands have risen up permanently, and thus this means that the sea has receded permanently along the southern coasts of Simeulue and other areas experiencing this uplift. This is consistent with the photos showing reefs that are now exposed and drying around the southern coasts of the island. His other reports indicate that the same has happened around Nias and Banyaks. Truth be told, I don’t understand exactly how Dr. Kerry knows this, but he repeatedly states in his writings that islands have risen up PERMANENTLY. Therefore, as stated above, there is no reason to believe another 8+ quake and/or tsunami will hit the area, though many aftershocks, including a few in the 6-7+ range, wouldn’t be uncommon.
However, the Bupati (similar to a regent, governor, or chief) on Simeulue gave us some insight into the mindset of the villagers that shows they are not ready to rely on scientific data at this point. He says most people on the island are now living outdoors in the hills or higher ground. After the quake, they saw the waters recede, exposing huge coral heads and large sections of reef, and, in their minds, this was a clear indication that another tsunami was imminent. The fact that the waters haven’t returned back to the normal levels has done nothing to calm the villagers, and has in fact caused a lot of additional anxiety and confusion. Rick expressed it well when he said, “They feel like they are in a suspended action tsunami that could come at any time.” Complicating matters, there was a CNN interview shortly before the second quake in which a seismologist predicted there would be a major quake on or around March 26th. The Bupati made a public statement proclaiming the prediction was nonsense. Now, after the quake the 28th, the villagers have essentially lost faith in the Bupati, and they are picking up on every story and assuming the worse. When Rick asked him about this, the Bupati just shrugged his shoulders and said, “The people won’t listen to me if I say the danger is past. I was wrong about the last prediction and now I have to take the new warnings seriously”.
In many cases, it’s clear the villagers are acting on instinct and rumor rather than factual data. As we’ve said throughout these updates since the first tsunami, education is the key to avoiding, or at least lessening, the physical and emotional damage these natural phenomenons can cause. We certainly cannot blame the Indo villagers for acting as they have, and RIGHT NOW is probably not the best time to sit down and have a class on seismology. The time now is for survival and rebuilding, but it will be imperative to educate the locals if they are to sustain and thrive in their homelands in the future
One point that we’d eventually like to get across to the villagers, or anyone traveling to Indonesia, is that Indonesia has, and has always had, many earthquakes annually because of its geologic setting. On average, there is approximately one 8+ earthquake in the Indian Ocean per year, and roughly every 2 years an earthquake causes a tsunami somewhere on the Indonesian coast. Most are small, and go undetected and unreported. The December 26th quake with its 9.1 magnitude was exponentially stronger than a quake in the 8.0 range, and was largest earthquake in more than 60 years. However, the fact that this is the worse quake in 60 years shows that it IS very rare. One key point we’d like to clarify to them is that once a tsunami hits, waves may continue to arrive for many hours, but there are no “aftershock tsunamis”. Once the main set of waves arrives and eventually dissipates, there will not be a follow-up tsunami (unless of course there is another new quake of high enough magnitude to cause one). It gets confusing for anyone, let alone villagers who are stuck in the middle of it all. But it’s essential to provide the villagers with the proper information so they can rebuild their lives and protect their future.
Surfers and aid organizations are not the only people who want to help the villagers in these remote islands. Around New Years Eve, we got a call from a very distraught and emotional man named Ray Williamson. Ray is the Captain and owner of Maine Windjammer cruises in Camden, Maine (USA), http://mainewindjammercruises.com, and it was clear from his tone of voice that he just HAD to do something to help. After many talks with Christina and myself (Slayer), Captain Ray began to organize a plan. He arranged to charter the 900-ton cargo vessel Maruta Jay through contacts he had in Indonesia and wanted it to be used in the best way possible towards a relief effort. Captain Ray ran into a lot of roadblocks and dead-ends trying to secure a crew and the materials needed to put Maruta Jay to its best use, until he finally decided the best thing to do would be go over there and do it himself. As of April 6, Captain Ray was loading supplies in Jakarta, with a projected arrival in Nias around April 13 – 14. They are expecting Care International to help them gather a full load. You can read more about Ray’s efforts on this page of his website, In addition, the boat is available for relief cargo transportation again on May 1, so if you feel you have a need for the vessel, you should contact Margaret Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-236-0675 (USA).
It’s people with that kind of die-hard need to help that keep us motivated. We are just a small piece of the puzzle trying to help out, but we will continue to do our best to aid in the relief and rebuilding process. We’d like to thank everyone for all their emails and kind words of support. Special thanks to Matt Barbour and Kristin Doherty, as they were the first to send a check towards our relief efforts – the must have sent it the day after it happened because it arrived right away. If you would like to make a contribution to our relief efforts, there is information on how to do so here.
Thanks again, and we’ll keep you posted. Terima kasih banyak!!
APRIL 15th UPDATE
As the relief effort continues full force, the various boats and organizations involved in the mission are starting to run into obstacles they have not previously encountered and could not possibly have imagined. Scuzz just returned from sea but we were unable to speak at length with him for much of the trip because the Pasti sat link was down. However, we’ve been receiving lots of information from several outside sources including Howu-Howu, IDEP, Rick Cameron and the ELM, Dr. Kerry Sieh, and many others. The news continues to be dramatic and worrisome.
As we’ve stated since our March 31st update, though the death toll after the March 28th quake was not nearly as high as after the December 26th quake/tsunami, the damage to the infrastructure and the villager’s overall lifestyle on Nias, Simeulue and the Banyaks has been much worse. And it’s beginning to show as people are battling over which goods and services they can attain from aid organizations that are just trying to help. Whereas after the tsunami on December 26th, in which villagers essentially maintained their cool and gratefully (and patiently) accepted any relief that was given to them, the villagers are now literally fighting over every valuable resource they can find. That has been one of the biggest unforeseen complications in this second leg of the relief effort: in many the places the locals have literally been fighting over the relief materials being distributed, and it’s actually become dangerous to attempt to provide aid to these people
For example, on April 8th 120 tents from the Red Cross were stolen in Teluk Dalam (south Nias) during a looting and near riot incident. Trucks had to be protected by armed police, and aircraft had to stay out of site to avoid additional violent conflicts. A similar situation happened the next day, where Red Cross described it as “an emotionally traumatized crowd of hundreds creating a hostile and undisciplined atmosphere with everyone wanting a tent…On two or three occasions, the situation was very close to complete chaos and looting.” The situation went on for over four hours, with constant shouting, raging, pushing and pulling under the blazing heat of the mid-day sun. Many of the volunteers actually broke out in tears, distraught over the mayhem and helplessness of the situation.
A similar situation happened the next day on the 10th, when the Howu-Howu team had to lock themselves in a warehouse due to being besieged by an angry crowd of hundreds. They seriously considered leaving the supplies and abandoning the shelter. Despite all this, leaders of Howu-Howu BEGGED teams not to back out of their relief efforts. Petra of Howu-Howu felt that not only should people stay because the villagers drastically need help, but she also felt that if several organizations fled that it would only inflame the situation further. She described a situation where they show up and are confronted with thousands and thousands of people asking for help. She felt the key was basically having enough supplies to match the crowd, and including the locals in the distribution to give them a sense of purpose and pride.
Then on the 11th, the Batavia with Rick Cameron aboard ran into similar problems trying to come into Gunung Sitoli (northeast Nias). They were stuck in with 15 tons of rice, hundreds of tents, and thousands of pounds of additional relief items, unable to bring these them ashore due to unstable conditions on land. They had been instructed by the World Food Program (WFP) the previous day to NOT distribute goods in the coastal villages near Teluk Dalam because they feared another potentially dangerous situation, and in addition that would make it would be impossible to distribute it evenly throughout the region. Apparently, the conditions in Gunung Sitoli were similar to TD, and they were told to hold up. WFP eventually helped Rick and the Batavia crew unload fuel and rations in SE Nias, but certainly not without complication. After these incidents alternative ports to Teluk Dalam and Gunung Sitoli were being considered more seriously, as the crowds in these major port cities were simply too large to accommodate.
On April 12, we received more catastrophic news from IDEP that The Cahaya Abadi (Endless Sun), a private relief boat delivering aid to Aceh and Nias, sunk off the coast of Nias on April 11 at 2pm. The 700-ton vessel had just finished offloading a cargo of rice and aid to the village of Afulu (northwest Nias) when it struck an uncharted reef in a heavy swell. The boat sunk within twenty minutes and is now a total loss. Some of the Indonesian crew of 15 and 5 volunteers swam safely to shore, while the others were picked up by fishing boats. Fortunately, everyone on the boat escaped safely. The Cahaya Abadi had delivered some aid materials from IDEP, as well as 87 tons of rice donated by the World Food Program to four isolated communities in Nias before the incident occurred. The vessel was still fully loaded with food and household/reconstruction aid intended for Aceh when it sank 600 meters offshore. The lifting of land that has taken place since the December 26 quake has created an unstable seabed situation with new uncharted reefs that make navigation extremely difficult and dangerous. As a result, many nautical maps have been rendered useless and captains have to be hyper attentive to their surroundings to avoid accidents such as this.
While most areas are reporting lifting of the reefs, some areas such as Onolimbu on the east side of Nias have actually appears to have sunk several meters. Photos from Rick Cameron show that virtually all of the coastal part of the Tagaule village was submerged after the quake. Approximately 60 homes are under water and many of the others are practically buried in mud. It’s not 100% clear if the people experienced a smaller tsunami in the 2-meter range, or if this tip of the island has been permanently lowered. That latter seems more likely, as the water has not yet subsided as it eventually would during a tsunami. The locals described great cracks opening up in the earth as they ran from their buildings to avoid the rushing water. About a mile up the coast in a different village, almost all houses along the coast have been destroyed and a town of 350 will have to be relocated, as their homes are now underwater. This area is dirt poor, and the people seem very worn out and quite desperate. They are terrified of future tsunamis and they have nowhere to run. The nearest village with any kind of road is 8km through the swamps, and the river is silted up and blocked with trees, eliminating boating a form of transport. Still, local villagers are attempting to build “tsunami escape vehicles” out of whatever wood and useful material they can find. The one in the picture was actually built by the richest man in town: at least this one uses fresh wood and drums on the corners. Rick says it’s heartbreaking to know that they would be useless yet the best that could be done. Small investments could provide great peace of mind for these remote swamp villages.
There are varying views on what actually happened in villages such as this where this small marshy area appears to have sunk while almost all other accounts show all of Nias rising. One theory is that that land subsided near Onolimbu because the soil is soft and loose in the swamp and riverbed. So, while the hard grounds, such as reefs and rock, rose up, the softer and looser soil of these swampy regions was in affect pulled away from the harder surfaces, into the deeper water. However, some feel it is more likely a true fault line displacement, and photos from Rick Cameron show evidence of fault line with a step-up of over a meter well inland. In addition, Scuzz’s first findings are not uniform either. He felt SE Nias dropped a little, while SW Nias rose about a meter, while still areas in the westernmost regions rose as many as 2-3 meters. Regardless of the cause, this area needs special attention. The area is not only extremely vulnerable to any future tsunami, but it’s extremely susceptible to flooding as well. The “tsunami escape vehicles” they have manufactured are far from adequate, and serious work needs to be done to “flood proof” this village in the future.
So, as you can see, despite a lack of media coverage on the major television networks, the situation is FAR from being under control, and most this update has dealt almost exclusively with Nias. Scuzz should be providing a whole new set of stories and photos or other nearby regions, including ones from the areas of the Hinakos, Simeulue and the Banyaks. Preliminary reports are similar to that of Nias, but on a smaller scale. Major cities and ports, any areas with many (previously) tall structures, now resemble a war zone. We got an email from Will who runs the land camp in Simeulue, www.simeulue.com. He seemed to be in decent spirits in his brief email, despite major damage to his house and drastic changes in the landscape. His camp is situated on the southwest tip of Simeulue, near Pulau Tepak. Will said that after the December 26th quake, the reefs had fallen approximately 1 meter, and they suffered the effects of the tsunami as well. After the March 28th quake, the reefs rose back UP 2-3 meters, altering the geography in the exact opposite manner. Will is sending us some new photos via email and hopefully we’ll have them in time for the next update.
Things aren’t exactly calm on the home front either. On April 10th, a 6.7 earthquake jolted the folks of Padang, where our hotel and home office are located. Reports vary depending on which news source you check, but most put the epicenter between 100-200 miles west/southwest of Padang. According to Yossi Augusti, who helps manage our hotel, it wasn’t so much the intensity of the quake, but the duration that really scared the locals. She said the earthquake began about 6pm on April 10th, and didn’t really stop until the next morning. Yossi and her family slept outside in a tent on higher ground to make sure they were safe in case there was any tsunami affect, which thankfully there was not. The epicenter of the quake was actually closer to the Mentawais than Padang, but there have been no reports of major damage or injury. Surfers have come back from their trips happy and unaware/unafraid of the quake.
And as if Mother Nature hadn’t thrown enough at the region, Mount Talang had a minor eruption on the 13th. Mount Talang is roughly 40km (25 miles) from Padang, and its no stranger to eruptions. The volcano has had 3 similar eruptions since 2001, and another back in 1981. But with all the recent earthquakes and tsunamis, the timing could not have been worse, and panic set in yet again. The area near the base of the volcano is heavily populated because of its fertile soil, and over 20,000 villagers had to be evacuated from towns on or near the mountain. Since the eruption, Indonesian scientists have put a total of 11 nearby volcanoes on close watch. It should be pointed out that volcanoes and eruptions are very common in Indonesia. Indonesia has roughly 130 active volcanoes that form the Pacific part of the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin. Volcanoes helped form Indonesia, and, frankly, they are one of the few tourist attractions for Westerners close to Padang. Things have remained calm on Mount Talang since Wednesday, but Indo scientists aren’t ready to make any declarations at this point. They say they are still studying the data on site and cannot say whether the activities of Mount Talang have slowed down or energy is building up for a bigger eruption. Padang is far enough from Mount Talang to not incur major damage in the event of a powerful eruption, but the fact that the Indo scientists continue to list the 11 quakes as “on watch” has done nothing to sooth the moods of any local Indos.
So, as you can imagine, it’s been tough at times to keep a positive outlook throughout all this turmoil Mother Nature is throwing at us, but it’s ESSENTIAL to keep pressing forward in a positive manner to bring help to others that need it most. The moods of the general public in Indonesia tend to be infectious, so a positive and energetic outlook is one of the most powerful tools in the rebuilding process. None of the tumult is stopping us from doing the right thing, nor has it stopped others from doing so. Members of SurfAid took our boat Asia out on April 9th, and as of the 14th was up in the northeast corner of Nias, providing essential medical attention. So far, this area has not received as much focus, and the locals are surely benefiting from their expertise.
Our plans continue to move forward as well. Scuzz will have back-to-back trips from April 18 – May 18 on the Southern Cross to provide aid to the regions in Northern Sumatra. We’ve also made plans for any of our boats not being used for our surf charter business to be available for quake relief. Which brings us to an interesting point: we ARE still running a surf charter business. We’ve run several charters since March, including a few that were out during or after the March 28th quake. It’s nice to know that most of the waves still exist, and that aspect (surfing) of the Indian Ocean is still as beautiful as ever.
We should have a lot more in a day or two, so keep checking back. Thank you to everyone for your generosity and positive vibes.
Slayer the Web Geek
APRIL 27th UPDATE
Hello everyone. Sorry for the slight delay on getting this update out, but as you’re about to read, there was a lot of information to sort through. First a quick note: there will be a gallery of Scuzz’s photos with detailed descriptions of each at the bottom of this update. The photos you’ll see as you read through this update were taken by Bowen Ota, one of the Californian passengers on the April 2nd trip – the first surf/relief trip after the March 28th. You can check out more of Bowen’s work at www.aframephoto.com.
Now, on to the update. The things that we continue to hear about and witness in person are simply astonishing. As discussed in previous updates, Scuzz set out on the first leg of our second relief mission on April 2nd, and even with all the stories and information floating around, nothing could truly prepare him for what he saw.
Before departing on their trip, Scuzz heard from Koen Meyers on Siberut, the northernmost island in the Mentawais. Koen, originally from Belgium, is a good friend of Sumatran Surfariis who lives on Siberut. He has spent many years on the island and speaks the language and dialect fluently – Scuzz describes him as “THE Man on Siberut”. Koen has been focusing his time primarily in Maileppet and Muara Siberut on the southeast corner of the island, assessing the damage and the reaction of the people. Contrary to many reports, there WAS some damage on the Mentawais, albeit minor compared to the areas in northern Sumatra. Koen said there is limited damage to the houses, with the worst affected area being the Maura Siberut School, one of only two high schools on the island, and the only public one (see picture at the bottom of the update). Koen said there is one doctor out there from a local yayasan with sufficient medical supplies, and he has treated those that needed help.
The main problem Koen talks about is panic. The locals are catching wind of every rumor and news report, taking them to heart regardless of whether they are blown out of proportion or pure speculation, and they have almost all fled into the hills for fear of a tsunami. Koen recently counted 2,862 people staying up the hills in a refugee camp near Maileppet. The villagers need mosquito nets and tarps/tents to protect them from malaria and the elements. Siberut is like any of the tropical islands in Indonesia – very warm, but rainy and moist – so this is a potential breeding ground for malaria and disease. Many villagers moved with such haste that they didn’t think to bring essential items to protect themselves and keep their living conditions somewhat sanitary. Koen says that the villages further inland are maintaining more of their traditional lifestyle. These villagers are self-sufficient subsistence farmers who are all fine. They live in low lying wooden uma houses and have been through this countless times over their history.
But the villagers that moved from the coastal villages of Muara Siberut and Maileppet are terrified to return to their normal lifestyle. However, this is everyone’s eventual goal, so Koen is somewhat against giving them food and adding too much to their refugee camp. The longer they get used to living like this, the more difficult it will be for them to return to their previous lives of fishing, farming and living off the land. Our boat The Budyadahri was anchored at a small island just south of Siberut when the quake hit and were thrown around a bit. But in terms of surf in Siberut, and the Mentawais in general, the reefs seem almost unchanged. Despite a lot of concern from family members, and rightfully so, our early season surfers have been really happy with the waves and have been scoring with virtually no one around.
As it came time for Scuzz and the guys from California to start their trip, they loaded the boat with and began by working their way up through the southern end of the Telos (also know as the Batu Island Chain). It was an unusual experience for Scuzz and the boys, as Southern Cross had never been that weighted down with supplies, gear, and passengers before. The guys were constantly climbing over sacks of rice, sugar, salt, water containers, noodle boxes, tarps, and baskets of fruit and veggies in those first few days. They were carrying roughly 9 tons of additional cargo on top of a full boat of fuel, water, boards and gear, which caused the boat to ride deeper in the water than Scuzz had ever seen, and definitely caused a loss of a knot or two in speed.
The villagers in the Telos were pretty haired out from all the quakes and could only attain news via radio. Much of what they were hearing was that there was soon to be a big tsunami centered near the Mentawais. The terrified locals told the guys other incredible and unfounded stories they had heard, including one that a big volcano was about to form and rise out of the water between Nias and the Telos. They were told Nias was about to sink under water. Nearly everyday they were told, “There is a tsunami coming tomorrow!” The boys often saw people run out onto the beach during the day and when they went in to investigate, the villagers would say they just had another big quake. Due to all the stories and actual tremors, it’s easy to understand why these people were so frightened, and virtually all the villagers were sleeping in the hills during the night. However, slowly and wearily they are beginning to come back down to the coast during the day to sift through rubble and attempt to build makeshift tents and shelter from the elements that would not cave in on them and kill them if another big quake came. It’s a good sign, but they probably will not return to permanent residence near the coast until the earthquakes and stories subside completely.
For interested surfers reading this, Scuzz and the gang surfed a few waves in the Telos, which seemed to have changed very little. If anything, Scuzz thought it was a touch deeper and that the islands may have sunk very slightly. They could see the erosion on the shoreline, the waves had more backwash on fuller tides, the waves seemed a little fatter – all telling signs that the land actually dropped a bit in this zone of northern Sumatra. This provides further evidence against the early theory that the land had uniformly lifted up throughout northern Sumatra.
As the boys moved further north to Nias, they began dropping supplies in the island villages at the southernmost tip of the island. The damage level was significantly less than Scuzz expected, and the reef was not drastically changed, again appearing slightly deeper. Still, the villagers were really shaken. The boys helped to treat many villagers with large cuts and bruises, many more than Scuzz saw after the December 26th tsunami. And, consistent with reports we’ve received from other parties, Scuzz said the people were also quite aggressive when it came to receiving and distributing the goods. At their first stop, Scuzz and couple of the boys went in and informed the village that they had brought food with them and they wanted to distribute it evenly. This caused all sorts of yelling and commotion, but this is what Nias is about. Scuzz said they are a culture where “the dog with the loud bark gets the bone, and that loud barking dog that doesn’t really think about tomorrow”. Scuzz didn’t take offense, saying it’s just the way they are. In the end it all worked out and they were able to distribute the goods evenly, and the people seemed happy as they moved further north.
Up at Teluk Dalam, however, it was a different story. This was the first time Scuzz had seen the devastation, destruction and death in person, and he painted me a very sad looking picture with a bleak future. The majority of people he saw milling around were military and police. There were piles of burning plastic and rubble all over. The power was very restricted and it was very dark. The houses that were still standing were cracked and badly damaged death traps, waiting to topple. Scuzz reckoned they would all be demolished virtually without a second thought in western civilization. In short, like many of the reports we’ve heard, it resembled a war zone. As the boys walked around with one our local friends, Andi, he would explain who lived where and who died and what had happened. Andi, along with the entire community, was staying up on the hill in one of the refugee camps, where villagers were packed like sardines; all sleeping huddled together under tarps with their few belongings lying next to them. There were a few people singing and playing guitar, but it wasn’t the usual happy singing – it was a kind of soulless dead feeling. The people seemed happy to see they guys, and they didn’t encounter the constant begging or hassling at all. Scuzz felt that was a reflection that these people were just beyond that and/or just numb.
Not far from Teluk Dalam in the famous Lagundri Bay, things didn’t look to bad from a distance as the boys motored into the giant cove. They could tell that some buildings had definitely incurred some damage, but they were still standing and appeared relatively in tact. The first thing they DID notice straight away was that the reef had risen substantially, lifted up by great force. The famous righthander at the bay was small, and what was once a great little peeling right was now just nothing but a burger. Scuzz estimated you’d see at least 40 people surfing on a day with similar conditions prior to the quake, but that day no one, not even the little groms, was giving it a try.
As the boys made their way to land, they got their first little rain squall of the trip, and the locals seemed relieved as they reported it had been stinking hot for the past few days. As Scuzz walked in through the Sibiyak Losmen (a losmen is like an inn or inexpensive hotel), he just couldn’t believe that the main house was gone – not just fallen down, but GONE, washed away, vaporized. This house was where a lot of the long-termers stayed, including our good friends Matt Sherman and Lee. Matt is now working for SurfAid, and we can only imagine how he felt when he saw what happened to his family’s place. This is when they began to realize that the structural damage to this area was far worse than they originally thought. As we mentioned in a previous update, Lagundri Bay suffered a very strong tsunami from the March 28th quake, while surrounding beaches in each direction did not. Lagundri Bay faces south, actually facing away from the epicenter. Yet, it got completely worked by the wave – a lot more than it got worked by the quake. Scuzz mentioned this was due to a funneling effect that the locals have known about for centuries, going back to a previous tsunami in 1833.
Later the boys met up with Uni, the Ding Repair King, and he walked around with the guys for a while, pointing out some of the drastic changes. Uni’s father was one of the bigger landowners on the point at Lagundri years ago, and he had given some of the prime real estate to his sons. Uni had built a nice big house with the help of Moose, a long time Nias resident. Uni had also built up a solid career doing ding repair and fixing the broken surfboards of the many surfers that stay in Lagundri. Over time, he saved up and built a big losmen for his guests out on the edge of the beach. As Scuzz would continually visit Nias, Uni would show him how it was progressing through it’s various stages of development, and he was obviously really proud of it. Today, like the Sibiyak Losmen, it is now flattened, demolished. This included his big stash of surfboards, a number of which had come from guests of Sumatran Surfariis.
As the boys walked up and down Sorake, they kept hearing the same story: there was big shake in the middle of the night, then about 15-20 minutes later, one BIG powerful wave hit. It moved in very fast and simply took out the village, washing houses, their contents and people around, displacing them in random, far-off locations. Somehow, no one was killed and the injuries Scuzz saw weren’t going to affect people in the long run, but the place is really beat up.
Similar to what Scuzz saw in north Simeulue after the Boxing Day tsunami, a few of the houses were literally washed off their foundation and there was nothing left but the concrete slab. Uni helped the boys help in whatever way he could. They eventually distributed all the supplies, and they boys said their goodbyes and moved on to Bawa.
Coming into Bawa, it was obvious to the guys that the place has lifted a huge amount. The reef was WAY out of the water, the keyhole is gone, and the wave has definitely changed. As a result of the lifting, the entire Hinako island chain is a lot larger due to the new expansive coral coastline that is now stretching hundreds of yards off many of the islands, bleaching in the sun. The lift must have been quick and dramatic as there are fish, snakes, eels and all sorts of sea life dead and dried on the newly exposed reef. The boys did about five different drops around these islands, with all the guys hand carrying heavy loads over sharp sun dried coral in tropical heat. Without reef booties or shoes their feet would have been hamburger, but they did it happily and gave out really good vibes and energy to the locals. It was a great effort, and the California guys really deserve a lot of respect and thanks.
Hinako village was really smashed up, and on a few of these islands such as Asu there had been a mass exodus and now few people remained. Many of the villagers still thought their islands were about to sink into the ocean, or that another tsunami was still on its way. The guys dropped off more goods and looked for new waves, and Scuzz finally gave me some good news to report back to the public. He said one island further north the visited was just amazingly beautiful, a lagoon of crystal clear water, with beautiful big coral heads. Overall, they found some new waves, found that some old waves were now impotent, while others were just “different”. In terms of a surf trip, the overall adventure was decent, but far from miraculous. But one thing we’ve learned time and time again about the waves of the Sumatran islands is you need to see them in many swells and conditions to really know their potential. Hence, this next year or two will be ones of discovery and exploration. That’s the reason Scuzz came to Indo, and the reason most involved with our company surf in the first place.
As of the time of this update, Southern Cross is back up in northern Sumatran with Aki, Yu, AK, and a couple of guests, and is again loaded up and delivering aid. They will hopefully have a chance to spend a decent amount of time in Simeulue and the Banyaks, and can report back their findings shortly. We have reports from various geologists that tsunami deposits in Langi Bay (near Alofan Bay in Simeulue) are stunning, with alternating layers of sand and mud. Scientists are saying that the study of these deposits will help determine the size of past tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the world. SurfAid is still in Nias using one of our other boats, Asia, as a makeshift hotel off Gunung Sitoli so that all their workers on land can shower and sleep in a safe comfortable place at night. SurfAid should be commended for their efforts on Nias – they are doing great work providing relief items and necessary medical aid to some of the most damaged areas. They also helped us load the cargo boat Mawar Indah in Sibolga so we could all distribute more goods to Sirombu and Teluk Dalam. Sumatran Surfariis’ own Ovi, who has just been a superstar in the relief effort, is also on Asia and doing all he can to help coordinate the relief effort in Nias.
Speaking of Ovi, he just got back from his home island of Bawa where he watched Kelly Slater and Friends tear up the place in what is now a completely different wave. Without giving too much away, Bawa used to do a fair imitation of Sunset Beach on Oahu when firing on all cylinders. Now, it is apparently a shorter, steeper, quicker version with more pockets and quick hollow barrels. Depending on who you are and your ability level, that could be good news or bad news. As a goofyfoot who has had his arse handed to him on big days out there, it doesn’t sound too shabby to me. But, apparently the conditions were just fine for the pros, as Ovi said Slater was going mental in the conditions. As stated earlier, we’ve already found some new good waves, some improved ones, and some “different” ones. But part of our mission is to keep our secrets with our customers, so you’ll just have to take our word for it that waves are still out there, and we intend to find new ones. It will take us a while to get it sussed, but we look forward to that adventure.
Ovi also reported that our fruit and veggie garden on Bawa is still moving ahead nicely. They have cleared the necessary land, treated the soil, and the fence is coming along strong. Ajo the horticulturalist we will be looking at sending up all the seeds soon, and hopefully the villagers on Bawa will begin seeing the fruits (and veggies) of their labor soon. Again, this project is all made possible thanks the many teachers at the Woodleigh School in Victoria who donate a small portion of their salaries each month to help the villagers attain their goal of long-term sustenance. And the teachers at Woodleigh aren’t the only ones who are going out of their way to help. Troy Depuydt is heading up a crew of six Central Californian and Pacific Northwest surfers that are trying to raise money to buy as many relief and rebuilding items as possible to help those affected in northern Sumatra. However, not only are they raising the funds, they will be using the dollars raised to purchase and hand deliver the goods IN PERSON to the communities in need during their upcoming trip starting June 11th on Southern Cross. Some of their friends like Pablo Shute, Erin Breeze, and Hilary Edwards have already donated to their cause, and they expect more to come.
This is a truly amazing gesture, and we can only think that it would ADD to their surf trip. For any surfer considering doing a similar mission, but is worried that the hardships in northern Sumatra might taint or diminished their experience, I’d like you to read the words of Matt Carrillo and Mike Stenkilsson below. Matt and Mike were two of the passengers on this recent April 2nd relief/surf trip, and I asked them to give me their thoughts on their overall experience:
” I don’t see how any other trip can be more gratifying than this. This was my first time to Indo and although we didn’t score epic surf the whole time we were lucky enough to take part in the relief efforts. Visibly, Lagundri Bay and Tuluk Dalam were by far the worst off. It was hard to take in because even after our efforts you still wanted to be able to do more for these people who now live in what looks like a post-apocalyptic war zone. We learned first hand from the locals of Lagundri about the destruction that took place in their village. The devastation was enormous and I found it hard to believe that this town was once a thriving tourist stop. Even after dropping supplies we were compelled to help out by either buying a t-shirt, donating clothes, or just giving rupiah to those who desperately needed it. One woman in particular was moving what belongings remained from her house with her two little kids. After hearing her story, Darren went back to our boat and came back to the woman’s house to give her 150,000 rupiah. This touching moment was expressed by the woman as she began to cry and gave Darren a hug. It would have been nice to help everyone out, but we did what we could and it felt great to achieve that. I must admit at first I felt like it was going to be an annoyance to help considering it was our vacation, but after dealing with it all it really added to the experience of the trip. When you step back and think about it, it is not so hard to help. You’re on your way through the area anyway, so the time it takes to lend a hand is minimal in comparison to the time you get to spend surfing and enjoying yourself and friends. Despite their desperate times the people were all very happy to extend a greeting and a smile…. ”
“When I decided that our surf trip would also be a relief effort to the effected island of Nias and some of it’s surrounding islands, my mind started to create all kinds of scenarios that we may face. Like most things in life, my expectations were not completely on target. No amount of foresight can prepare you for a parent offering their eleven-year-old daughter in attempt to give her a better life or seeing a whole village destroyed. These people need immediate help! Food, water and supplies are definitely needed in the short term, but the thing that these people need most comes from within….HOPE! Resilience is a trait that humans have mastered but it doesn’t come to fruition until there is some degree of hope. I had the wonderful opportunity to see it first hand on the faces of a mother and her young son after treating him for an infected burn on his foot. The mere fact that a westerner was present and showed compassion was enough to give them the inner strength to smile and express gratitude despite their overwhelming situation. The little things do count so get out there and an enjoy the people and….oh yeah, the waves are still perfect with new waves to discover!”
That pretty much brings you up to date with our latest findings and relief efforts, but I’m sure we’ll have more to report back soon, so keep checking the updates. We’d like to ask that you consider donating to our relief effort. There is information on how to make a tax-deductible donation directly to our mission through the Clean Ocean Foundation here. Clean ocean will issue you a receipt which you can file for your taxes, and we can personally guarantee you that we will use the money in the most grass roots way there is – by traveling to the most remote, inaccessible places in Northern Sumatra and delivering aid and medical attention in person to those who need it most.
Hope you enjoyed the update. Terima kasih.
JULY 28th UPDATE
First, I need to apologize about the delay in getting this update out. It’s not because we haven’t being doing anything; it’s because we’ve been doing too much. We’ve been especially busy running concurrent surf trips and relief missions in what is now the peak season, but we realize you all like to be informed of our latest efforts. So, without further adieu, on to the update!
Scuzz has spent a lot of time around Nias lately and he’s actually been quite surprised at how the clean up and rebuilding process has gone. Teluk Dalam has been cleaned up quite well and many new structures are being lived in already. However, many villagers are living in structures that are barely still standing, structures that in any western country would have been condemned and taken down. Scuzz was told that a villager actually died recently when his very lopsided house collapsed on him during one of the many aftershocks the island of Nias is still feeling. Quakes in the 5.0 – 7.0 range still happen almost weekly, and there are several smaller ones that occur practically on a daily basis. To put that in perspective, imagine if you live in California or Sydney or a similar highly populated western area: people would be FREAKING if a 7.0 touched down near their hometowns. But this has simply become commonplace in many of the islands in Northern Sumatra. Most people still sleep in tents or outside in makeshift shelters, and understandably so.
The rumor mill still continues to spin new tales on a regular basis, which does nothing to quell the hearts of the locals. It seems each month there is one day that is forecast to have a big quake and this really freaks out the villagers. The islands of the Hinakos, just off the west coast of Nias, are greatly affected by this. The people out there are very scared of their islands sinking or being washed away by a tsunami. Evacuations to Nias, or other areas where they might feel more secure, are not uncommon.
Bawa is one of the small islands that make up the Hinakos. As a result of many people running off the island, the fruit and veggie garden we have been working on with the help of Woodleigh School in Baxter has been slowed down a bit. But overall, it is going great and we’ve made tremendous progress. We have moms, dads and kids all working there. Whoever wants to work gets a day’s wage at the end of the day is welcome. The hectare is now fairly well cleared save for a few bigger tree trunks and roots, and the fence looks solid. Scuzz and the boys from Northern California dropped off a load of barbed wire recently, which should be enough to allow the workers to fully “pig proof” the garden and start the planting very soon.
We have all the seeds there ready to be planted and the locals have made up some little pots for the seedlings. The locals have also dug a new well with fresh water, and they have created a shack for shade and lunch with a few seats crafted from the trees that were taken down. There is a nice big path to the garden and the locals are very proud. The island of Bawa has suffered greatly from lack of fresh water. When the island lifted, its wells were emptied dry. The locals were too scared to climb down and dig deeper due to the constant quakes and hence they lived off very little water, and what water they did have was polluted. As a result, diarrhea and sickness were becoming rampant on the small island. The new well at the garden is a lifesaver and has been used by two of the villages. German, who owns the surf camp in front of the righthander at Bawa, has just gotten his well dug deeper, too. And while the water is still clayish and cloudy, it is a start, and it has allowed him to take guests in to his camp again.
Bawa Sawa is the name of the village at the old harbor where the ferry would come in with the island’s supplies, and where guests would disembark to stay on land. It was greatly changed due to the uplift, stranding a couple of boats and a lot of mangroves. But there still was a little opening that allows small supply boats to get in. It is shallow and narrow, but with good navigation it still serves its purpose. Scuzz reckons that due to the large swells we have been having the whole opening is now full of broken coral and thick sand. It is about 8 feet high, so it is now really hard to get supplies in, especially with a good south swell running.
The changes to the area at the north end of Nias are just amazing. It has lifted so much that there are just kilometers and kilometers of newly exposed reef, cutting off a lot of the openings for fishing boats. The changes to the islands north of Nias are quite amazing, too, and also somewhat confusing. Some of the islands have lifted, while islands right next door are sinking. Many people theorize that the islands were going to universally lift, or sink, or “tilt” (meaning one end of the island will rise up while the opposite end will sink under). This is simply not the case, and the lifting of the underwater shelves has shown to not be the only factor. For example, while some islands may have actually been lifted by the earth’s changes, some towns and villages in the lifted portion of the islands that are located in marshy parts of the islands have actually slid and dipped into the ocean due to the erosion from the tsunami. This is just one factor that geologists are considering. The town and island of Balai is in a bad way as it has dropped a lot and left the people with a lot of growth problems.
A lot of our scientific data continues to come from Dr. Kerry Sieh, an amazing geologist from CalTech that’s really helped us, and a lot of people, make sense to all of this. He’s been able to actually quantify a lot of the changes, and illustrate just how drastic the movements have been. Kerry says that most of the motion of the mega thrust from the big March 28th earthquake was directly beneath Nias and Simeulue. Nias rose 2.9 meters at Lahewa, 2.5 meters at Sirombu, and .7 meters at Sorake. Simeulue rose 1.7 meters at the airport and Busong Bay. What’s really interesting is that one month after the March earthquake, Kerry’s GPS/seismic instruments showed continuous motion at Lahewa and Simeulue. This motion was slow and did not produce major quakes, but basically it showed that small adjustments are still very much happening on the mega thrust around Nias, and the earth is still trying to settle back into a stable place. Apparently, it’s not ready yet.
For those of you who’ve been traveling to the Mentawais or Northern Sumatra for many years, you may have noticed tha every year the islands seemed to be slowly sinking ever so slightly. This had been the case for many, many years, until the quakes of December 26 and March 28 caused a major shift in the opposite direction. Then, there was a significant aftershock centered just southeast of Siberut on April 10 that was caused by the pop of a little fault between Padang and the islands. Because it broke the seafloor just east of the islands, it caused a little tsunami on the islands and in Padang. The Padang tsunami was so small it was barely noticed, around 20cm.
Kerry is now staying a lot of nights at our hotel in Padang, the Hotel Batang Arau. He has the room that looks directly onto the river. Both Time Magazine and Discovery Channel have been in to interview him. He very much tries to stick to the facts of what his instruments register. He cannot predict any specific time an earthquake will happen, or how big any resulting tsunami will be. Currently he is finding reports from the 1833 quake and tsunami. However, they are generally vague and may be exaggerated, as well as written in Dutch and must be translated. Every observer, and there are not many documented, saw it differently, so it is difficult to sort out what is fact and what is perception.
Kerry has given us a lot of FACT and expert opinion that you can review in more detail for yourself. It’s sort of a long read, so I’ve created a separate page for it here that explains how much each area has risen and fallen. From that information, you may be able to derive how the quakes and tsunami may have affected your favorite breaks. Also, Kerry provides some very interesting insight as to why he thinks the next big quake would likely be near Padang and the Mentawais, and why he refers to the new resort at Macaronis as “a tsunami death trap”. It’s a very informative read, so check it out. From Scuzz’s own personal observations, as a general rule the further he’s headed south, the less likely there is to be damage or noticeable change. We usually start our North Sumatra Surf Trips in the Telo Island Chain, and Scuzz has not really seen that area to be really affected or changed, not to an eye’s notice, anyway. He reckons there may be a slight loss of sand off these islands due to a tiny bit of sinking and big swells, but that’s about it.
One good sign we’re seeing on our trips is that the fish seem to have come back. For a while after the March 28 quake, nearly every boat was having trouble landing fish. That all changed around mid-June when just about every boat did very well, and we have continued to do so. Scuzz told me actually landed a big Wahoo while writing me an update as he was traveling through the Telo chain. Sumo and the gang just got back from their trip on the July 23, and they said they landed 17 sizeable fish, and Scuzz’s response to Sumo’s email was, “That’s all??!! I thought we caught way more than that.”
As to waves, well, you’re going to have to come with us and see. We refuse to give too much away there. Not to toot our own horns too much, but we undoubtedly have discovered our fair share of absolute gem waves in the past, especially up North. We have been less that vigilant about guarding these secrets, and as a result some of these waves have become part of the normal stopping grounds for other charters who’ve found this information secondhand. In terms of swell, let’s just say, to put it bluntly, that this year has been cranking. There has been amazing swell lately and we have been able to see what happens to the new (and old) reefs on some different conditions. Some are not so good, some are way better, and there are definitely some new gems. I’ll be putting some visual eye candy on homepage, and there will more to come on our Photos section. But we now have new insight to the old breaks, and secrets about some new waves, and we intend to guard that information. The only way you’ll find out for sure is if you come with us – the cat’s got my tongue.
On a different note, the amazing generosity toward the relief efforts has not dwindled. I feel horrible that I am just now getting around to thank the Santa Cruz/Pacific Northwest guys that came up with such an amazing effort for their June trip. The crew consisting of Troy Depudyt, Chris Saari, Scott Prince, Bryan Thom, Marco Cruz, and Anthony Kresge did an absolute AMAZING job by raising over $8,000us for relief items, which they then distributed to the villages in the islands they visited on their trip up North from June 11 – 22. The guys raised so much money that we didn’t have enough space on board the Southern Cross to fit all the goods and supplies the money paid for. But the guys, along with guests Ridley “Doc” Doolittle and Simon Rajaratnam who joined the crew late, traveled with a boat full of 5 tons of food and basic supplies (such as fuel, sugar, coffee, fishing and diving gear, nets, noodles, school books, pens, etc.) and energetically hand-delivered them to the villagers. The guys were really impressive, often going into very remote villages and stoking the kids out. In 7 of the roughly 15 villages they visited, the boys delivered soccer balls, volleyball nets and volleyballs – items they can use to take their minds off the devastation and simply have fun once in a while. Scuzz has since seen them being put to a lot of use. Nearly every arvo there are lots of kids out yelling and screaming and playing exciting games of volleyball and soccer – epic stuff!!
The SC/Pacific Northwest guys pretty much did this all on their own, through their own personal contacts. Troy, who is a surf/snow rep in Northern California, used his industry contacts to help donate goods that were used in a raffle conducted at a BBQ the boys held for the specific purpose of raising money for their trip. Troy and his gang managed to get items donated for the BBQ from Dub Congress, SPUN, Liquid Imagery, Randy Brown Photography, Alistair Craft and Adam Repogle @ Billabong Surf Shop, Cobian USA, Spy, Liquid Militia, Pack Your Trash, Chris English, Alexis Party Rentals, Ezekiel, the Burrell School, Macdonald Design, Donovan Signs and Freeline Surf Shop – all of whom we’d like to thank. Salomon and Cobian Sandals also donated healthy chunks of change directly to the cause, as well, and all tolled they raised a several thousand dollars. Marco organized a raffle through his workplace, Superior foods, that raised over $2,300 for the cause, and he raised an additional $400 from a vintage surfboard auction. Brian Thom donated $1,000 BY HIMSELF, and that’s in addition to the cost he paid for the trip itself. Pretty much all of the guys who went on the trip donated sizable amounts, ON TOP of what they paid to go on the trip. It was just an amazing, amazing unselfish and tireless effort from the guys. I was on the phone almost daily with Troy for a couple months, and we were just stunned at how the forecast for the funds raised just kept going up and up and up. The giving spirit is infectious, and it was clearly on display from these guys.
The boys also spent a fair bit of cash (rupiah) around the islands while on their trip, which helps a lot. The impact of actually going to Sumatra on these surf trips and contributing to the local economy cannot be undersold. For example, we employ a full-time staff of over 30 local Indonesians, and several of the other charter companies are structured in a similar way. In addition, when guests go on land and spend a few bucks, that adds up and contributes greatl to their economy. The Santa Cruz/Pacific Northwest hired a car and did a trip up to the hill village in Nias (with some of the guys riding on the roof!). There, they donated to the kings house, had a couple of guys jump the stone, bought lots of carvings, drinks, donate to the Clean Sorake Beach Fund. All of this adds up, and with the huge dip in surf travel to this area after the quakes and tsunamis, the impact of people actually just going on trips is magnified even more.
Certain organizations have been really good at employing locals in their own relief efforts. Red Cross Spain and Denmark have been especially good at this, employing kids to clean up the asbestos, distribute tents, set up health clinics, rebuild roads, houses, electrical and telephone lines. You see their cars every day and a couple of the kids are on big wages (by Indonesian standards). However, we feel the locals are a valuable resource that is being drastically underused. It doesn’t take a lot of money to employ these locals, and we know there are a lot of people who have donated money in the hope that it would be spent rebuilding the towns of the surfing places they have stayed and enjoyed. To the people and organizations that are reading this (and you know who we mean), please: it doesn’t take much to employ a few locals at each beach to begin clean up. In fact, it costs a hell of a lot less to employ these locals than it would any westerner, even those working for “non-profits”. Let their families know you are employing them and the money will be used by the families in a good trickle down way, and will help build the overall self-esteem of the villages.
One great example was when Dedi, our friend from Lagundri pictured in the wheelchair, came to Padang looking for any sort of work. Through Matt George and Dave Lupo of the SRO (http://surfzonerelief.org), Dedi was hired to pull out old rusty nails from the bits of wood they were pulling out of the Batang Arau River. Dedi was so proud. It wasn’t about the small change (by the rest of the world’s standards) that he got paid; it was that he contributed to the relief effort and felt like a valuable asset. It was about self-esteem, and the feeling that he could make a difference in even the smallest way. Great stuff SRO, and we hope more people/companies/NGOs follow suit in a similar fashion.
On the topic of the SRO, they have become fairy godfathers to Padang after all their island work. Lately they have cleaned the Batang Arau River of one of its old skeleton ships, which has basically been rotting and corrupting its waters for far too long. They have devised an evacuation plan for Padang and done test drills at many areas. They have employed and involved many locals and have been befriended by the president of Indonesia and Padang’s mayor and governor. This is a great group working off their own money and any money raised through fundraising, and we can personally vouch that any help given to them will be used to its best. There is actually a good article in the new BIG 45th Anniversary issue of Surfer Magazine (starting on page 306) that tells a pretty good story, where many have been sugar coated or exaggerated. The article does talk about Scuzz, Christina, AK, and Scuzz’s lil’ sister Alyssa, but read deep into it.
Following the SC/Pacific Northwest trip, the June 24th trip on Southern Cross consisted of a group long-time Californian return customers who also brought over money for supplies and aid, plus cash to spend on local goods. It’s really very inspiring and energizing to see. The locals, while often still very hard and hassly, are actually acknowledging us as being the only people in the surf community to really help and keep helping each time. Scuzz is finding they are giving us lots of waves and there’s quite a bit of nice stuff happening on land. In fact, for one of the sessions at Lagundri Bay (the famous right at Nias), the locals cleared the entire lineup for the SC/Pacific Northwest guys and let the boys have at it by themselves for a full session. We have never seen anything like this before. They aren’t usually like this; it’s a good sign and big step.
As far as our plans in the immediate future, we have leased the land at Bawa for three years and will keep going with the fruit and veggie garden. The locals can then sell the product back to us, and any other boats traveling in the area. All profits and food will be used for the island to improve the diets and general well being of the villagers. A lot of this is made possible by the generous donations from the teachers at the Woodleigh School in Victoria, Scuzz’s “early alma mater”. As mentioned in previous updates, they have set up a system where small amounts are withdrawn from their regular paychecks and sent over to us on a monthly basis. Also, individual contributions go a long way. If I were to include everyone who has donated since the last update, the list would probably be longer than this entire update itself, so I’ll have to thank a small portion. But if you’re name is not on this list, please do not think we don’t value your generous efforts: Tom and Scott Corkhill, Jean Austin, Pat Bennett, Joyce Cavanaugh, Pat Griffith, Karen Hardy, Sandy Klein, Betsy Ritchie, Margaret Robertson, Betty Simpson, Judy Yeager, Rosemary Lenaghan, Pablo Schulte, Anthony Moreland and Ana Corrales, John and Margaret Saari, Matthew Vaughn, Marilyn Vaughn, Amanda and Jesse Armitage, and Erin Mullery. In addition, the main camp at Sorake Beach is back to a condition where they can take on guests again. Two of our friends, Mjon from Holland and also Kevin Lovett, are staying in the camp, and they report roughly 15 guests staying at the present time, so it’s looking up. So your help is definitely making a difference!
And of course, we are still taking donations. For anyone out there still wanting to give, we are happy to take your donations and distribute the goods we purchase with them throughout the islands. You can find out more information on how to donate on our “Ways to Help” page. We do this EVERY trip, and we run trips pretty much constantly throughout the year. We take pride in putting your hard earned money to good use, and if you have any doubts on how your donations are being used, we are more than happy to provide you exact details on how your money is being spent and what goods are being purchased. Or better yet, please come over and visit, spend some time with the people, and ask. As we’ve said several times, just coming to Indo and being part of the environment makes a significant difference.
That’s about all for now. Again, sorry it took so long to get out this update. It’s the peak season, and it’s very difficult to manage a surf charter business and run constant relief missions at the same time. But we’ll try and be more prompt in the future. Thanks, and hope this finds you all well.