A Minute with Mike - Word has been received

This article submitted by Lynne Jacobson on 8/25/98.

August 24, 1998
Two letters arrived in Paynesville today from Michael at Lumi High School, which means he is safe at his home.

One letter was written July 22, six days after the tsunami hit the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, and the other letter was written Aug. 2.

School was scheduled to open July 20, but had not started as of Aug. 2. Michael writes that his schoolís only student from the villages hit by the tsunami survived and is at school awaiting the start of school.

Reggie Howard, a missionary in the city of Wewak on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, and a friend of Michaelís, visited in Paynesville over the Fourth of July weekend while he and his family were in America for a couple of months. They have just returned to Wewak and sent us an e-mail with the following update on the devastation.

ĒThe news reports we read while in the states appear to have been very accurate. The earthquake was felt over the whole northwest part of Papua New Guinea, but the tidal wave was very localized. Because the center of the quake was very close to shore, the waves struck quickly but only over a shoreline of about 20 miles. This affected only five villagesÖThere is no official death count, but well over 3000 people perished. The survivors (about 50 percent of the population of these villages) are now being looked after in six care centers. The PNG and foreign governments have contributed large amounts of money which is being used to meet the basic needs of these people as well as for the hospital care of those still there (40 are still in the Wewak hospital).

ďIt is encouraging to see the response of Papua New Guinea Christians toward the suffering. Christians have contributed tons of food from their gardens, (and) they have been giving other needed items too, like clothing, cooking and eating utensils, etc. A whole lot more might be given but the logistics of getting the goods to Aitape is a problemÖ

ďThe community leaders of the five villages have surveyed their land and chosen places to resettle their people. This is no small matter. These people have lived all their lives on the beautiful ocean shores, now they abhor the ocean and are ready to build a new life in the thick rain forests.Ē

Thanks to everyone here for their concern and prayers for the people of PNG and Michael.

(Michael Jacobson was a reporter for the Paynesville Press before joining the Peace Corps.)

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