Friday, October 23, 2009

Old Beichuan Will Be Remembered; As Survivors Find a Way to Cope

Sometimes I cringed and sometimes I laughed while listening to earthquake survival stories from my dinner companions last night. Almost 18 months removed from the May 12, 2008 earthquake, residents of Sichuan province all have a story. One 60-year-old man, who admits he was frightened beyond belief, explained how the earth flowed like water below him. Worried in his fear that the ground would open up to swallow him, he chuckled as he recalled his attempts to grab the trunk of a tree, only to miss every time he reached out because the tree was moving so violently side to side.

Today it was only solemn disbelief as I looked from atop a mountainside lookout at the tomb of 30,000 people of Old Beichuan. While much of the rubble in the region west of Mianyang has been cleared and many families are now back in newly constructed homes, the government lets Old Beichuan sit as it did after the shaking from the 8.0 earthquake ended. It will stay as rubble in honor of all who are buried below it. A museum to honor all 80,000+ who died throughout Sichuan Province will also be erected next to the destroyed city.

Some six miles east, down the canyon, 50 cranes reach above the new apartment buildings being constructed for the new Old Beichuan. This will be home for the 70,000 residents who survived.

Children's Hope counselors are working to bring hope to surviving children and their families in the relocation camps. In seven Hope Centers throughout the earthquake affected region, earthquake orphans or children with one surviving parent have been given a shoulder to cry on and loving support for over a year.
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