SurfAid’s Mentawai Tsunami Update

The Huey surf charter boat battles through 10-12 foot seas. SurfAid's Tom Plummer said the bow was buried six times with green water coming over the windscreen. Photo. Sped

The Huey surf charter boat battles through 10-12 foot seas. SurfAid's Tom Plummer said the bow was buried six times with green water coming over the windscreen. Photo. Sped

SurfAid Reaches Mentawai Villages With Supplies Despite Worst Weather In Years

SurfAid is managing to get emergency aid supplies into the villages most-affected by the tsunami despite the worst weather and sea conditions in the Mentawai Islands in years.

The surf charter boats, which are carrying supplies and assessment teams, have been battling 30 knot winds and wild, 3 – 4 metre (10 – 12 foot seas).

An aid boat was helping a local in his motorised sampan when they lost him in the bad weather. Luckily SurfAid staff on board the Indies Trader IV saw him in the ocean and brought him on board.

“We have budgeted to spend $2.86 million in the Mentawai after the tsunami and we need to raise nearly one-quarter of this through our public appeal.”—SurfAid CEO Andrew Judge


SurfAid’s Tom Plummer reports from Macaronis, Gogoa and Silabu. Footage courtesy of Channel 9 Australia. Music by: Milton Brown and Peter Goetz Edited by: Tatianna Alpert / little hobo project

“As we approached Limu, the waves were crashing us into boulders that appeared above the water. The community greeted us with smiles and looks of relief, and children gathered along the shore with their bright, smiling faces. We introduced ourselves to the village and, after telling them that we had aid supplies, the men in the community gathered on the beach,” Howe said.

“With the storms this week, it has been difficult for us to carry the shelter, building, hygiene and cooking kits, and food, from the tin boat to the shore in the wild sea conditions.”

“SurfAid has been able to act quickly and effectively due to our local knowledge and rapid support from the New Zealand Government, AusAID, private and corporate support, including Billabong and Quiksilver.”—SurfAid CEO Andrew Judge

“But this village of 33 households stood against the storm, formed a line and emptied the tin boat. Even children participated with smiles remaining on their faces as they saw all the goodies that they were receiving.

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“Then we made our way to Limosau and the Indies Trader crew even managed to catch a giant trevally (above) that was given to the community,” she said.

As the storms intensified, their hopes of reaching Maonai, one of the worst affected villages, were dashed. “We had to rethink our strategy and put the safety of our team first,” Howe said. The team made it into Maonai with emergency supplies yesterday (Thursday).

SurfAid CEO Andrew Judge sincerely thanked all the people who have supported our Tsunami Appeal so far but he said that much more funding was needed.

“We have budgeted to spend $2.86 million in the Mentawai after the tsunami and we need to raise nearly one-quarter of this through our public appeal.” Judge said.

“SurfAid has been able to act quickly and effectively due to our local knowledge and rapid support from the New Zealand Government, AusAID, private and corporate support, including Billabong and Quiksilver.”

“The New Zealand Government funded our operations through the extreme weather in the past four days and the Australian Government has just announced another $1.1 million in assistance to the people of the Mentawai through SurfAid.”

Displaced villagers in Eruparaboat camp. Salvaged wooden separate families from the mud. Families are traumatized by the tsunami and fear another one. Photo: Howe/SurfAid

Displaced villagers in Eruparaboat camp. Salvaged wooden separate families from the mud. Families are traumatized by the tsunami and fear another one. Photo: Howe/SurfAid

The Mentawai is a very difficult place to work because of the difficulty of getting to remote communities across exposed coasts and coral reefs. The islands lie 150km (90 miles) off the coast of West Sumatra.

“The huge storms have increased the challenge and the scale of the task is almost impossible to communicate,” Judge said. “SurfAid is working closely with the surf charter boats, local volunteers, the Indonesian Government and other NGOs (Non Government Organisations).”

“We are making every effort to get assessment information on the affected communities to facilitate the response. We have also been able to deliver large amounts of shelter, food and hygiene materials to the affected people to help them get through the next few weeks as the rain buckets down.”