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National Science Foundation
Map of India.

After Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka were hardest hit.  Deaths and damage were widespread along the eastern and southwestern coasts of both countries.

Beginning Jan. 23, 2005, a reconnaissance team of social scientists from the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware traveled to both India and Sri Lanka. The team was in Sri Lanka from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1.

Besides taking measurements of the physical damage, the team wanted to observe the methods used to restore lifelines such as electricity and water systems; to identify local and state agencies, and local and international organizations taking part in recovery and relief efforts; and to connect with research centers.

Photo of Havidan Rodriguez.

Havidán Rodriguez, University of Delaware

Credit: Yohannes Tesfaye, IT Consultant, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware

The team included leader Havidán Rodríguez, Tricia Wachtendorf, James Kendra, Joseph Trainor and A. Subramanian. In four days, the team traveled over 460 miles to the south of Chennai, India.

In one village, the team noted that some of the temporary shelters provided—tents in excellent condition—were not being used during the day, apparently because they provided no ventilation in the very hot climate. Instead, villagers whose homes were reduced to rubble and boats destroyed, built their own shelters of rough thatch and loose tarps. The temporary camps had no potable water and no electricity. Men wanted the government to provide boats, motors and nets so they could fish again but were skeptical that such help would come.

The coastal villages experienced three tsunami waves. In the aftermath, people were fearful and could not sleep; rumors persisted that another tsunami would happen. Hearing that aid workers went to areas that had received media coverage, some villagers moved to those areas, complicating the coordination of aid.

Photo of Villagers north of Batticoloa.

Villagers north of Batticoloa, Sri Lanka, whose homes were reduced to rubble and boats destroyed, built their own shelters of rough thatch and loose tarps.

Credit: Tom Paulson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A Special Report After the Tsunami