So I spent a few hours today at a meeting in a government official’s office in Nagapattinam. Several people have gathered to plan an event scheduled for October 1 and 2, in some ways a response to the tsunami. It is also an effort to replicate and improve on a previous effort that demonstrably helped a village south of here escape the full fury of the wave.
And these are some of the logistics that got discussed:
The event will happen in a rectangular area of about 15 hectares on the coast. The area will be divided into 20 blocks. Each block will have 15 workers, plus seven volunteers and a supervisor. There will be about 5 liaison leaders, to take information between the control room and each block.
There will be six sheds for the workers and volunteers to rest and catch a little sleep. They will be about 500 square feet each; these, and the control room of about 200 square feet, will have to be erected beforehand. The control room will need an electricity supply to run a computer and a printer at least. Electricity will also be needed for lights in each block, likely 4 halogen spot lamps on poles to provide light for the work at night. There will also be 7 speakers, one for every 3 blocks, to make announcements.
Toilet facilities will be required for the workers and volunteers: temporary toilets will be required on the site. Food: a community kitchen in a nearby school is the best solution. Packets for the workers and volunteers will be delivered to them so that they don’t need to interrupt their work; two sizes of packets because the workers will need more food. The others who visit – a total of at least 500-600 more are expected – will visit the kitchen for their food. There’s some discussion about the menu: the consensus is on simple idli and various kinds of rice preparations (lemon rice, pongal, sambar rice, curd rice). Tea and biscuits will be supplied constantly. There will have to be tubs, with handles so they can be carried by two volunteers at a time, to ferry the food packets to the workers.
The 20 supervisors, the liaison leaders, the team of observers and a few others will need walkie-talkies; 40 are deemed sufficient. Ropes will be required to mark out the boundary of the area as well as each plot. In addition, at least one rope per plot, knots tied in it at the appropriately measured intervals. The volunteers will also need supplies of chalk powder to mark spots on the ground. Some question about whether this needs to be coloured; the last time it was near-white soil, so white chalk would not have done. But this time the soil is browner, someone assures us.
There will have to be a medical team on standby, with a doctor and nurses, and possibly an ambulance. In addition, there will need to be coordination with fire, health and other municipal departments.
Water is a big issue. Suggestion is to provide several 500 litre plastic water tanks with taps, perhaps one per plot, refilled every few hours by tankers. No plastic or paper cups, which at the end of the event will inevitably litter the whole area. Instead, provide steel cups and a place for washing them. The volunteers in each plot will also have gunny sacks for collecting the litter from the food packets and they will drop these in a garbage bin, which will also have to be brought to the site.
Transport is a major issue. The workers will reach the site on their own, since they live close by. But for what they are working with, some 15 tractors will be required, each doing 20 round trips over two prior days. Plus a van to transport the food, and buses for volunteers, and a few other vehicles for miscellaneous running about.
And finally, because this is a requirement from London, somebody to do videotaping. Likely the same fellow who did it last time, but someone is going to check around for others.
What’s this all about? Watch this space.