My Mother Trapped and Saved from Sumatran Earth Quake
By. Marjohan M.Ed
I was at home with family in Batusangkar. Suddenly on September 30, 2009, Wednesday at 17.16 pm, the great earth quake rocked my house and all people stomped outside of their house, picking their kids and cried fearfully. The neighbors were gathering to talk and to calm down each other, as well as sharing experiences how to confront the hard times. One said that the uncontrolled emotion makes him or her forget with danger- let the fired stove lit, or hit the heavy material and injured them.
Everybody was curiosity on the impact of earth quake, I tuned radio and listened the earth quake was very great, it was 7.6 Richter scale. It damaged Padang and Pariaman region. Several offices and luxurious hotels collapsed and as well the people houses. The worse things happened that some young students in learning trapped in three floors building collapsed at once, and as well as some people being in conference trapped under the collapsed of Ambacang Hotel. I remembered then, my home town is Lubuk Alung- Pariaman, and how are my mother, my sister, other families and relatives.
I contacted every body and as well other people of my family. Nevertheless there was no single response. The sudden quake interrupted the channel of telephone network. Few minute then came a single short message service- SMS from my brother, he said “our house is totally damaged at home…..”, and then I could not contact every body outside else. .
My brother from Payakumbuh rushed toward Lubuk Alung. I did not know how he could reach my home. All roads nearby the hills toward Padang and Pariaman were buried by land slides. Heavy rocks and tumbling trees scattered everywhere. He told me that he went home earlier by rental car through Singkarak Lake, Solok and Padang. From Padang he walked with heavy knapsack on the back home. He collected energy under the sun shine and perspiration body. He tried to catch taxi or motorist but all refused. Fuel was scarce dan difficult to be obtained. The city was full with ambulances glaring serine, delivering the dead and wounded people who trapped under the collapsed buildings- offices, hotels and super markets. Then, intercepted with the speed of rescue teams truck and cars. .
Padang has been a collapsed city. Electric and water were running out. Media informed that the great supermarket where the young citizen used to visit, Plaza Andalas, also collapsed. A great number of visitors- probably students and teenagers as the loyal visitors trapped inside. The greatest university in West Sumatra province- Andalas University and Padang State University” were in damaged. Many schools were in great damaged, too. All students were ordered to go to their hometown- Bengkulu, Jambi, Pekanbaru, Medan and several towns in Sumatra and West Sumatra. They caught and hiked buses or droved motorbike. The city felt as the site of mass wild road race. Hundred thousand of people had exodus outside of Padang and also ten thousands of people who were afraid loosing their children and family rushed toward this city for verification. They rushed on road on contra direction.
They passed on narrow roads and they were caught in landslide altogether. The traffic in suburb areas became totally jam for several hours and the length of it was 90 km on the road of Padang and Bukittinggi. Passengers and the road users were totally panic. Yes, it was true that the traffic was really difficult.
The local radio in Batusangkar then informed that the road toward Padang could be accessed. I was in hurry because of desire to see my home town. There was an event in my family, my brother wanted to handle his wedding party at one of convention halls in Padang. His planning must be delayed or cancelled since the natural disaster and the site has been changed as the rescue place for alive victims. More homeless people stayed there. I did not know if my brother could conduct his wedding party at other place even in a humble situation. I picked few casual wear and rushed toward Padang.
The bus drove normally and I sat at the back seat. There were no many busses brave to move and there were more bad mood passengers- worried their relatives and family safety in Padang. Entering the road of Silaing- the region of Anai Valley near Padang Panjang, the totally traffic jam happened, more and more buses, cars, trucks and motor bikes came and moving bumping in bumping. The air was full with carbon smoke emitted by thousand of car’s exhaust. Babies and young kids were really stressed. They cried and their parents were panic to soothe them down.
The rescue team passed bye in difficult situation. The great machines cleared the road from natural materials, the heavy rocks and falling trees. I was stressed, too and I disliked to talk with my seat mate in the bus. I looked out of the car’s window, stared at river, green forest and the ocean of people. I tried to forget my frustrated. After trapped in the traffic jam for six hours, my bus reached the end of bad road in Sub-district of Sicincin, part of Pariaman. I was relaxed because the bus could move normally.
From the village Sicincin I began to see the effect of earth quake. I saw many damaged road with cracked asphalt, cracked wall and totally collapsing houses. Many people with emptied sight were standing or stayed in their emergency tents set before their house. I only saw the damaged building along the road and of course there are ten thousand families loosing their places at the remote places or inland sites. Almost 300 person or more buried together with their house in the village or Kecamatan Pertamuan, Gunung Tigo on the side of Tandikek Mountain. A lot of houses which are built on the coatal line ruined, worse than the rest of places. Since they are closer to the epicenter of earth quake on offshore of West Sumatra.
What Padangnese fear recently is truly come. They were feared of great quake and tsunami. Fearing phenomenon among people grow after tsunami and heavy tremor in Aceh in 2004 and several other earthquakes in Sumatra and Java, Padangnese were feared of natural disaster then the scientific predicting that one day great tsunami also happens on offshore near Mentawai or near Padang, that many people moved to highland such as in Indarung and abandoned their home on the west coat of Padang. Government responded and designed the evacuation passage whenever the heavy quake with great tsunami happening. But no one knows when the exact disaster come and that was the great earth quake happened in sudden that afternoon. Anyhow this was still ok. Imagine if the earth quake with 7.6 Richter scale happened at night, possibly millions of people will die and trapped or buried in their homes.
After almost one day, on normally day it took us only two hours, I arrived in Lubuk Alung and got rented motorbike. Generally people look confused, no motivation and had no any activities. Some only stayed inside the emergency tents with broken house behind. I imagine on how was my mother “died or alive”. I walked the path toward direction where my mother stays. The situation was very lonely, I saw none except one or two young kids played themselves. I found my house (mother’s house) with broken wall and collapsed roof. I called her in humble voice “mother…., mother…..!!”. No answering, then I listened my old aged mother, walked difficulty with a wooden stick.
“Hi….you come. I almost die. I did not that it was quake”. Yes a young man with muscle body entered the ruined house. He found mother flanked between wall and ceiling. It was lucky that the house was not consisting of heavy material. He picked mother’s body outside. Then he listened another crying “help… help, my head is bloody”. As the quake happen my niece run toward kitchen instead of outside and the wood of roof broke and drop on her head side. Her head was hurt.
The night seemed very long and dark and we had poor food. There was no kitchen and stove to cook and fuel to lit the kerosene lamp, except two pieces of candles. I sat by my mother side and listened to her endless talk- she needed sympathy and then I shared sympathy. I was afraid with mother’s healthy- she was spook and walk bending because of osteoporosis. Being alone or live with a young grand daughter that she could not consume good and healthy food. I shared food that I took from Batusangkar with other relatives. I slept on the rough plastic mat and could not sleep. Mosquito flew severely around my side and ears. I could not contact other through my cell phone- no batteray and no phone coverage.
I remember my friends in Padang. They work as government civil servant. I contacted them and I until know I do not know whether they are alive or dead. Then I walked to my older sister and other relatives’ house “We have no house to live in and we live in the hut with old roof”. I do not know what to do, they do not need any advices or sermon. What they need is a slice of bread, a glass of water, a piece of tablet for her fever”. If not poor situation and poor sanitation will send diseases for my big family and the babies and young kids may get serious/ severe ilnesss But what I can do is showing my sympathy and empathy or I return out side and take my money, even it is not very much, that I have saved for several months. Send us a praying and hope for a better life again.