The Gendarmes in the Bremerhaven aid station, part of the volunteer army of around 10,000 people who recently poured out of New Zealand and have been engaged in disaster relief to Spain, Greece, Morocco, India, Georgia, and now Thailand. The bulk of the work was last Friday’s clean-up in which 800 tonnes of rubbish was removed from the beaches around coastal towns, according to Mario DiCerbo, the chairman of the Indian Ocean Task Force’s involvement with the clean-up.
Cheruiyot: the last two weeks have been about gathering as much material as possible so we can weigh the cost of trying to repair or simply dispose of it. There are around four tonnes of damaged boats, 60 tonnes of building materials, nine tonnes of large appliances and equipment, eight tonnes of broken fencing and rubbish from all the hotels that we have had to pull down and move. We have encountered only small amounts of oil from travelers, while the vast majority was waste from what was left of what we thought was a sort of disaster-free calm in the town.
We have had, in the last few days, so many broken windows, so many broken outdoor balconies, so many buckets of rubbish and so much equipment we have had to cancel many repairs.
The nine airports, wharf areas, streets and roads that were like a cement floor that the tropical rain would wash away after a couple of days. We lifted, for example, what was left of a table that was leaning against the pier; it took us five hours in freezing conditions to unload it, and now we have to remove it again and replace it.
The coastal areas have also seen a lot of building materials ripped out of planks, or soiled by rain or with sand. We have removed seven piles of cement blocks from five different beaches.
All these broken boards, or cobble, can be sold on as souvenirs, but I want to do all I can to return these beautiful beaches to the way they were. When the Italians rescued the migrants last spring, the boat they were on was covered in 600 tons of rotting seaweed. And that included the waves.