“How Bad is it?”
By Bill Breedlove
Executive Director, HDF
left of it—to Muzzafarabad
As soon as people find out that I
was recently in Pakistan, they all
have the same question: “How
bad is it?”
For them, I have the same answer:
“You can’t imagine.”
Photographs and even video footage
can’t do justice to the total
devastation I witnessed.
In the mountainous, rural areas of
the Bugna Villages complex, virtually
every single home has been (at best)
damaged or (at worst) totally destroyed.
If the homes aren’t completely
collapsed, then a major part of the
home is missing, as though some giant
just broke a piece off of it.
the city was
Other houses appear, from the outside,
to have escaped the devastation. However,
once inside, the interior walls are
covered with cracks and fissures.
These dwellings, while technically
still standing, are just as uninhabitable
as the homes that have been leveled,
since they are now structurally unsound
and could collapse at any moment.
I stood in some of those homes, and
you can hear the foundation and the
walls groaning and shifting. Add in
the fact of the frequent aftershocks,
and the sad truth is that none of
those dwellings are safe.
About 30km from Bugna is the city
of Muzzafarabad. Along the road to
Muzzafarabad, there are great fissures
and cracks in the road where it looks
like the earth tried to tie itself
into a knot. In some places, the road
is altogether gone. In others, huge
boulders from the mountains had rained
down, either blocking the road or
else damaging it so badly it is impassible.
As we stood on the other side of
the Neelam river from Muzzafarabad,
we were looking at a city that has
been essentially destroyed. We crossed
the bridge into the city, and were
able to see—much more than we
wanted—just how terrible the
Man outside his
All of the buildings over four stories
had come down, leaving rubble and
stone everywhere. In some of those
buildings, more than a month and a
half after the earthquake, the people
who were trapped in them still remained.
The other, smaller buildings suffered
much of the same type of damage as
the homes in Bugna, either completely
leveled or damaged beyond repair.
Of course, since it is a congested
city, when one building moves or collapses,
it tends to encounter another building,
and a domino effect takes place. We
could see how one building had crashed
into another, which in turn crashed
into a third, and so on.
And yet, we saw—time and time
again—amidst all the chaos and
wreckage, there was hope.
Hope, and a strong resolution to
not only survive, but to rebuild.
The initial shock had faded, and
people were not sitting bemoaning
what had happened. Instead, people
are working to rebuild their land.
Whether they are in the cities or
in the rural villages, we saw neighbor
helping neighbor, and extended families
looking out for each other.
Interior of a
People are so anxious to rebuild,
they are not even waiting for the
government’s help. We were deluged
with requests for raw materials—like
aluminum for roofing—and people
were actually using the rubble of
their homes to begin rebuilding. We
support their desire to rebuild quickly,
but also have urged them to wait for
some technical assistance to help
build sound, earthquake-proof homes.
They know that it won’t be
easy, and they know that a huge challenge
is coming in the shape of the winter.
But they are resolute, and we at
the HDF are proud to help them.
Date Created: 12/13/05
Date/Time Last Modified: 12/13/2005 2:33:49 PM
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