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US Forest Service Aids Humanitarian Efforts in India Earthquake Disaster
February 2001

Disaster Assistance Support Program
 
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Tragedy struck India as a powerful earthquake devastated the western state of Gujarat on January 26, 2001. Sources within the Indian government estimated that thousands died and nearly 200,000 were injured. Ruins of homes and buildings litter the streets caused the displacement of nearly half a million Gujaratis. The aftermath of the magnitude-7.7 quake continued as fears of disease increase. In response to the crisis, the United States government immediately dispatched emergency humanitarian assistance to India.

Both the US Forest Service and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) were instrumental in coordinating a massive disaster response effort. USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Bureau of Humanitarian Response sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team to India immediately after the earthquake shattered the sub-continent. Emergency relief commodities were subsequently airlifted into New Delhi. Water purification units, water distribution kits, and five-gallon water containers, blankets, plastic sheeting, generators, light stands, and electrical cords as well as tents and water tanks were among the necessary supplies.
USFS International Programs' Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP) lent crucial support to OFDA's humanitarian response. DASP's Disaster Operations Specialist, Ron Libby, coordinated the logistics of relief supplies in India. In Washington, DASP's Disaster Response Specialist, Gary Barrett, worked as the night shift Communications and Records Coordinator for the India Earthquake Response Management Team (RMT). He was responsible for tracking all incoming and outgoing communications. As RMT's Logistics Coordinator, Gina Papke, US Forest Service "Hot Shot" Fire Crew Superintendent, was in charge of procurement, transport, and supervision of relief supplies to this disaster.

Other Forest Service personnel were vital in lending logistic support to the response efforts. Just a few weeks after the El Salvador earthquake response, Bill Laspina, from the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho, embarked on this ongoing mission alongside Mike Malone from the Clackamas River Ranger District in Oregon.
The US Forest Service assistance to this emergency humanitarian effort was fully funded by the US Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

For additional information about the relief effort in India, please refer to the OFDA web site and the Natural Disasters section of ReliefWeb.


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