Tuesday, January 29, 2008

World of Good, Navy Style #2

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post! This week we go back in time a bit to highlight the wonderful relief efforts of the US Navy after cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh last year. We focused on the US Navy in our very first WOG long ago when we showed the work they did in caring for the people of Banda Aceh, Indonesia following the massive tsunami in 2005.

Back when the cyclone hit in November, 2007, Dr. Jeff Masters over at his Wunder Blog posted a very good summary of what the Category 4 cyclone did to Bangladesh.
The maximum storm surge from Sidr was probably 20-25 feet, and affected the regions near and to the right of where the eye made landfall. The eye fortunately came ashore in the Sundarbans Forest, the world's largest forest of mangrove trees. This region is the least populated coastal area in the country (Figure 1). Storm surge levels of 10-20 feet probably affected the provinces of Barguna and Paruakhali, which are more heavily populated. Undoubtedly, the storm surge killed many more people in these provinces, and Sidr's death toll will go much higher.
Check out his blog post for detailed maps and descriptions of the storm.

The U S Navy was on the scene fairly soon after the cyclone had passed, restoring basic services and providing food, water and medical treatment to the stricken people in the area. From the Bloomberg news article linked above:
Two US Navy amphibious assault ships are on their way to Bangladesh after Tropical Cyclone Sidr slammed into the Ganges Delta, killing at least 1,100 people and making thousands more homeless.

The USS Essex and USS Kearsarge, each carrying helicopters, hovercraft and equipped with hospital facilities, have been dispatched.
Just what did they accomplish? Well, the pictures from navy.mil tell much of the story.

DOBLARCHAR, Bangladesh (Dec. 04, 2007) Lt. Cmdr. Lu Le, a Navy surgical doctor attached to 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable (SOC), uses a stethoscope to examine a Bangladeshi fisherman.

DOBLARCHAR, Bangladesh (Dec. 04, 2007) On this small Island fisherman form a line in front of a medical tent set up by Sailors and Marines attached to the amphibious assault ship Tarawa (LHA 1) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable (SOC).

DUBLERCHAR, Bangladesh (Dec. 4, 2007) Fisherman assist members of a U.S. Navy Fleet Surgical Team by carrying medical supplies from a CH -53E "Sea Stallion" helicopter arriving from the amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1).

BAWFAL, Bangledesh (Dec. 4, 2007) A Marine Radio Operator calls in a radio check as food rations are offloaded from a Marine CH-46E assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 166 (REIN), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC).

Lastly, one of my favorite pictures from the set over at the U S Navy website (search term: "Sidr") is this one. It's not just the look of concern on the boy's face, but the enormous line of people in the background waiting for aid from the sailors and marines.

BAWFAL, Bangledesh (Dec. 4, 2007) A Bangladeshi boy watches as food rations are offloaded from a Marine CH-46E assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 166 (REIN), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC).

Over 1,000 people died from the cyclone. The damage was much less than some previous cyclones because of the competent and able work of the Bangladeshis in preparing for it and partly because of the post-cyclone assistance from the US Navy. They certainly did a world of good.

For more WOGs, a description of why we WOG and an opportunity to join the WOG Squad, see this post.

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