NEWS

Nepal earthquake disaster sends ripples throughout B.C.

04/27/2015 04:55 EDT | Updated 07/31/2015 04:59 EDT
More than 4,000 people are confirmed dead in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal over the weekend with some survivors left sleeping in the streets, without food, water, or a road out of the disaster zone.

The quake has hit close to home for many people with Nepalese connections throughout B.C. Here are some of their stories, as told to CBC Radio.

'Complete chaos and sadness'

Dinesh Gautam of Prince Rupert, B.C. grew up in Nepal, and still has family there.

"I was pacing for almost two days and I just don't know if this is reality, whether this is not reality, and not being able to go and help them," he told Daybreak North's Russell Bowers.

"It's just a state of complete chaos and sadness."

Gautam had been planning a trip to Nepal with his son in May, to see historic buildings and temples.

"Seeing those temples just destroyed and becoming nothing but mud and dust — it just breaks my heart."

Gautam plans to fundraise locally to support relief efforts.

To hear more from Dinesh Gautam, listen to the audio labelled: Prince Rupert's Dinesh Gautam reeling after Nepal earthquake.

'We're safe, but life is difficult'

West Kelowna, B.C. couple Nik and Louise Arkel founded Hope for the Nations, which sponsors an orphanage for young children in Kathmandu and a hostel for young girls in the Everest area.

Louise Arkel told Daybreak South's Chris Walker she received a short email from one of her colleagues in Nepal that read, "We are safe, but life is difficult."

She said both the orphans and the girls have been told it's safer to stay outside, away from the damaged buildings.

Many of the girls staying at the hostel are students, and Arkel said it has been difficult for them to get in touch with their families.

"They're relatively traumatized, I understand, because they have no way of accessing information about whether their families are in fact safe."

Arkel isn't sure whether she should travel to Nepal, but may plan a trip if she's told she's needed.

"We're kind of in a holding pattern — wait and see — and once things settle down in a bit we'll get a better sense of what we can do that will be beneficial and not simply get in the way."

To hear more from Louise Arkel, listen to the audio labelled: Orphans out on street after Nepal earthquake.

'No idea what to expect'

Byron Bignell of Kamloops, B.C. had plans to travel to eastern Nepal next week. Now the earthquake has hit, his trip will be of a different nature.

"I intend on going, but have no idea what to expect," he told Daybreak Kamloops' Shelley Joyce.

"As chaotic as it is, unless I'm told by official channels not to go, I'm going."

Bignell has been working in Nepal for the past 20 years in community development — on clean water and sanitation projects.

Next week he plans to offer his familiarity of the country to relief organizations on the ground to do what he can to help.

He also hopes to make contact with his friends and co-workers in Nepal.

"We've watched their families grow up. We've been part of their lives. It's a connection you don't turn your back on."

To hear more from Byron Bignell, listen to the audio labelled: Byron Bignell headed to Nepal to help after earthquake.

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