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Helping where we can

Yesterday (Wednesday), we were in Dujiangyiang, where many people have lost their lives and many of the buildings have been razed to the ground.

We drove past crumbling office blocks, private houses, hospitals and schools and could only watch helplessly as people sat in the streets staring forlornly at their previous homes or places of work. One man was standing on a mountain of rubble, desperately clawing at the remains of an apartment block and saying there were people trapped inside. Some people tried telling him that no one was left there, but he continued, frantically trying to locate someone he had loved and lost.

A knotted line of sheets trailing from a room high up in one damaged apartment block snaked to the ground below showing how resourceful people had been when their stairways had been destroyed. Several houses were missing whole walls in the front - showing bedrooms and lounges with furniture intact and people who had lived there only hours before now sitting in makeshift tents in the street.

We drove past buses full of doctors and nurses on their way to help the injured and then past a completely demolished school where the army had formed a rescue line - picking up rubble and passing it along to the end, while the parents waited quietly for news.

Everywhere we drove, the scenes showed the resilience of people now getting back on with their lives. Corners bustled with vegetable and noodle sellers and groups of people sat around and played cards - even laughing once in a while. The various social services personnel were nothing short of incredible - tending to people lying on the stretchers in tents, and feeding drips into their veins, despite being so clearly dog tired.

Although we offered our help it was clear that for now they wanted to cope with this in their way. At least half of the buildings in Dujiangyiang will need rebuilding and the dam there is a big potential problem too - if it bursts, our sanctuary down river will be flooded within minutes. 

Toby (General Manager of our rescue centre) and his team are in touch with the authorities on a frequent basis as they are about having someone come to look at the structural damage to our buildings.

Our vet team was there with drugs and supplies offering to help people and animals alike. There were subtle but clear messages that people were grateful for the supplies but would prefer to work on their own. This was the same everywhere we went. We are still making enquiries with the Red Cross - offering our help in whatever way it is required.

In the meantime Christie (our China Relations Director) has made enquiries at many surrounding dog and cat shelters in this area where we’re based and all are fine. We will continue widening this offer of help to both people and companion animals in the surrounding communities.

The Sichuan television news late last night announced that bear farmers in the area of the earthquake had bolted, leaving their bears. One bear had apparently escaped and been shot by police. We are still trying to verify this news with Madam Xiong from Sichuan Forestry, but no news as yet. Obviously we have offered to bring the bears to our sanctuary and help the farmers too. 

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