YAO JIN VILLAGE, China – The name of the game today was “tank repair.” Most villages in the quake zone have huge concrete water tanks for storage and most of these were cracked during the quake. The cracks range from hairline fissures to gaping 4-inch splits. Either way, cracks and water don’t mix.
In Yao Jin, so much water was escaping from the tank that we couldn’t get sufficient pressure to feed the showers, so we decided to completely overhaul the tank. It all started yesterday when we diverted the incoming water and cleaned the tank. The villagers then built huge supports out of concrete and rocks to hold up the damaged wall of the tank.
This morning we had three professionals come in with a special water proof fabric which was plastered onto the wall of the tank like wallpaper and then plastered over. It’s horrible work, the tank was filled with cement dust and was uncomfortably hot, but it had to get done. Sometimes these “behind the scenes” jobs are the most important and today OB workers were hidden underground doing the dirty work. But for the villagers, the results will be very apparent.
In the afternoon we visited the mountain village of Hedao where we had installed the generator yesterday. The villagers were very pleased to see water gushing into their water tank. The generator is currently pumping water to two villages, Hedao 1 and Hedao 3. We learned that the village of Hedao 2 could also benefit from the pump but their water tank was also cracked in the earthquake.
James Moo and I were led up a steep hill in Hedao 2 to see the tank.
All of these tanks have to be quite high above the villages to get good water pressure. Walking up through the bamboo forests was beautiful and the views down the valley breathtaking, but in the midday heat these hikes are tough!
When we arrived at the tank, we climbed down a rickety bamboo ladder into the darkness of the giant concrete reservoir, which is about 15 feet high.
Sure enough there was a huge split in the mud covered floor and the tank currently won’t hold a drop. The good news is that like in Yao Jin, the repair will be quite simple. So tomorrow we will be trucking the necessary materials to the village to begin getting their water supply back to life.
Water is such a precious commodity. Without a good supply the villagers can get sick and that would further hamper their chances of getting back on track and rebuilding their lives. Without water, reconstruction is also very difficult since it is a key ingredient to mixing cement. The last thing the villagers wanted to see after carrying water up a 1.5-mile steep hill was for it to be poured into a pile of cement! Now in the villages of Hedao 1 and 3, they have water both to drink and to rebuild.
The township leaders have agreed to provide trucks to haul away the debris from Yao Jin. OBI will provide the loader and excavators to continue breaking up the debris. After two days, I’m amazed at how different Yao Jin looks. There is much more room to maneuver. There are still some houses higher up the hill that will need to be broken with the hand jackhammers because the excavators cannot reach them and also a few houses that have been marked to be demolished with dynamite.
On Sunday we have a construction engineer with 20 years of experience arriving from Beijing. He will be on hand to manage the removal of the debris from Yao Jin village and give strategic direction to our heavy machinery. His experience will be a huge asset and will allow us to speed up the clean up operation.
Our ribbon cutting ceremony has also been set for next Tuesday. The township leaders are attending and possibly a county representative.
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