Sunday, July 5, 2015

Disaster Relief

Almost 3 weeks have passed since camp was inundated with flood-waters when the Talek River jumped its banks on 13 June. Camp has largely been rebuilt, and tents have been repositioned wherever possible on higher ground. The riverbed changed dramatically during the flood, and camp is full of sand washed in by the water. We are still finding weird items like spice canisters and shoes up in trees, but the slimy black mud coating on everything and the enormous mountains of soggy trash are gone from camp, and things are slowly starting to return to normal. But I’ll tell you what: 13 June was one terrifying night for all of us! The students in camp and all our Kenyan staff members worked heroically in what quickly became waist- then chest-deep muddy water to save our data, samples, themselves, and everything else they could in the brief time we had before the rising water made further efforts futile.  Everyone watched helplessly when our large wooden kitchen cabinets swirled past as the water rushed them out of camp. Our heavy metal wheelbarrow floated by next, as did a 200-lb tent still new in its bag. 

It has taken quite a while to determine which things were totally ruined and which could be salvaged, but we finally have a pretty good handle on that, and we have started a crowd-funding effort to try to replace some of our lost equipment and supplies. My current grad students have set up a site where folks can donate whatever they can afford to our efforts to resupply camp.  The site is at:

We are calling the site a post-flood “wetting registry” and we hope that the readers of this blog will donate what they can, and encourage their friends and families to do the same.

The new look of Fisi Camp (taken from the rain gauge, looking east out the driveway): the new lab/dining tent on higher ground beside the driveway and the solar panels across the way.

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