Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Revisiting Indonesia

I recently discovered another half-dozen or so satellite images of Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, and am in the process of interpreting them for the Tsunami Help Blog. The majority of these images were taken on January 18th, 2005, more than three full weeks after the devastating tsunamis that struck on December 26, 2004. The raw images are available on the "Space Imaging" website.

The images are quite sobering. We know the United States military, the Australian military, and dozens of nongovernmental organizations have been working for three weeks trying to provide food, shelter, and clothing to the several million Indonesians that survived the tsunami, and to help begin the recovery. It's a daunting job.

There are areas shown on image after image that look exactly like what they are - the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters to occur in decades. Some areas show no damage at all, yet less than 100 yards away, there is total destruction. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of bridges are gone. Where some of them stood, only the piers remain - even the abutments have been washed away. Several photos show hundreds of acres of devastation where trees have been flattened across huge swaths. Tens of thousands of other trees were uprooted, mixed with other debris, and the remainder clogs rivers, streams, fields, and ponds. Masses of debris block major highways that go nowhere anyway, because the bridges are out. All that's left of many fields are the boundaries and inches - sometimes feet - of salt-filled mud.

Yet even in all this debris, there are signs of life returning to the area. Several areas show people moving about, clearing away debris, and trying to rebuild their lives. In the rural areas, such groups are quite small - frequently only a handful of families. Most of these areas are still cut off from the rest of Sumatra, as all roads in the area are out. Human nature, however, is taking charge once again, and the debris is being cleared, surviving animals are being rounded up, and homes not destroyed are being rebuilt as well as one can expect. There were boats on several rivers, probably fishermen trying to supplement a meager diet with what they can catch.

One thing was very obvious, however. I could find no people around the sea's edge on any of the half-dozen images I've already looked at closely. There's still a great fear of the sea. That may not leave until this generation dies out completely.


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