Admissions Essay: Facing Tragedy
On January 26th, 2001 a major earthquake rocked the state with a measured severity of 6.9 on the Richter scale. During my travels throughout the state of Gujarat, I witnessed the after effects of the earthquake. In addition, I worked as a volunteer at Ahemedabad's Civil Hospital, which was the main hospital used to treat that city's earthquake victims.
Although reports have previously indicated that nearly 35,000 people perished in the natural disaster, the final state reported numbers were 20,083 casualties and 166,836 injured. The largest damage was in the Kutch region of Gujarat, which is mostly desert. I spent the majority of my summer in Svarastra, a region including cities affected such as Ahemedabad, Rajkot, and Jamnagar. There were 370,000 homes destroyed and a total of 1,020,000 homes damaged. Some of the largest casualties came from the nearly 20 high-rise apartment complexes in Ahemedabad that fell. In terms of financial losses, the Indian government estimates that there was nearly $3.2 billion lost directly, from categories such as housing, social services, public property, and infrastructure. A total estimate of direct and indirect losses was $4.5 billion. Within infrastructure alone, there was severe damage to telecommunications, power stations, water supply, hospitals, railroads, and administration buildings.
The Gujarat earthquake, with its casualties, can be considered one of the largest natural disasters in human history. However, what I learned and witnessed during my month in Gujarat this past summer is also another story of hope and recovery. There was great international support, both financially and physically, that enabled Gujarat to regain its footing. There has been extensive rebuilding of buildings and repairing of damaged ones....