Friday, August 14, 2009

The typhoon aid distribution center in Sinying, Tainan

My friend Michael Cannon suggested that instead of getting together to do some biking, we head down to Tainan and Pingtung to volunteer in the affected areas. So on Wednesday night a bunch of us chipped in, I filled the van with stuff that was in demand -- cleaning supplies -- and headed down south. We also got a boost from Basic Aid, a local aid group. By the time I got out on the highway, I was carrying so many chemicals that I would have been arrested for being a bombmaker in the US. Many thanks to everyone who chipped in. People I don't even know put money in my account to buy stuff. Simply incredible.

Here they unload the stuff we brought. We were instantly surrounded by unloaders, and they carefully inventoried everything. I don't think the brooms actually ever touched the ground -- they just went right in and right out.

The aid distribution center was in Sinying, the county seat of Tainan county, at the local county government office. As can be seen, everything was organized -- water here, instant noodles there. The whole operation was run by females, and not a box went in or out but three femmes counted it. I won't say it ran like clockwork, because clockwork rarely runs at 100 decibels, but it ran as well as it could, considering.

I put my name on the list for the vehicle pool. We got a small load of stuff to carry over to another government office in a nearby town. Michael waits for boxes to load in this picture.

The town of Siaying not far from Sinying.

The peaceful view belies the massive flooding of a few days ago.

Local countryside.

Back at the distribution center, people were busy loading boxes. Who would have thought there were so many boxes of instant noodles in the world?

A halt in the flow of goods. Young people came by the thousands to help.

Mountains of supplies flowed in, everything you could possibly name and things you'd never think of.

Michael waits for a pass.

The flow of goods.

Organized chaos.

A hard day of movin' things needed some real Taiwan food therapy.

Sinying is overwhelmed with labor and there are plenty of vehicles flowing in and out. So today we are heading out to Pingtung to volunteer in the affected areas. A local friend told me:

"Got an email from Council for Hakka Affairs saying Pingtung needs a lot volunteers to help down there. They're meeting at the Pingtung County Bureau of Culture every day and transporting people to disaster areas to help out. Call 08 7365600 or 08 7365012 for more info."

and this adding new phone lines and extensions since the response has been overwhelming.

"Just got another email from 客委會: 屏東縣府文化處救災志工諮詢電話08-7365600 08-7365012,有熱心朋友想去幫忙 但反應電話一直都打不通 後來我經其他方式問到的結果
煩請改撥 [number no good] 或 08-7378821*501 或 *506"

Please donate money, above all, it is what is most needed to keep things going. Unfortunately I am out of touch and so can't tell you where.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Jason said...

Well done, Michael(s), you guys really make us proud!

It's also heartening to see members of the "Strawberry Generation" step up and take charge in lieu of the central government. Truly a good sign.

Adam said...

Great work Michael! I've posted a link to this article in a few places. I think many people are afraid to donate to such causes, assuming the money will be caught up in red tape, so it's very motivating to see that IS getting used in an effective way.

All we see in the news is reports about how people are NOT doing enough to help, so it's a relief (pardon the pun) to read about people who are.

Your article has inspired me to donate a percentage of my business revenue this month to Typhoon Morakot relief. I'm hoping it will inspire others to action as well.

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said...

Great work both of you.

Marc said...


I heard that a problem with all the dry noodle donations is that there's no water or stoves to cook them. Did you observe that problem, too?

Raj said...

Bloody well done on you for helping out!

Todd said...

Great job you two!

BIT said...

You guys are great. I wish I could also help besides donating money. Being in New Jersey, I pray for everyone affected by this devastating disaster.

Protocol Snow said...

Great work on participating in the relief efforts!

Carolyn said...

I am proud to be Michael Cannon's mother after seeing what the two of you did this week. Good Job!