Nepal2

Nepal1

TAKING COVER  The earthquake flattened many villages and urban areas, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless across central Nepal. Photos by Deanna Empey

TAKING COVER The earthquake flattened many villages and urban areas, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless across central Nepal. Photos by Deanna Empey

By Kevin Nimmock

Pioneer Staff

When the earthquake began in Nepal on April 25th, the country was thrown into a state of devastation. Deanne Empey of Invermere had just come back from a trek and was in a hotel with friends, guides and porters when she heard and felt the rumbling.

The sound was incredible, Ms. Empey said. It felt like airplane turbulence. As we were flying home, I thought, Yeah, it kind of felt that that.

She was preparing for a wedding and had been trekking around the country with friends prior to the earthquake. The disaster killed more than 7,000 people and injured twice as many.

We were in Pokhara… where we were was not overly devastated, but the news was quickly there, said Ms. Empey. Some of our guides quickly got notification of devastation to their homes.

In the aftermath of the devastation, Ms. Empey said she felt the adrenaline of the fight-or-flight response for days after the initial quake.

We did not want to be inside, so we walked around, she said. You would finally go into your building, and then another tremor would come and you would bolt outside.

Ms. Empey and her group were stuck in Nepal until flights could be booked to fly home. Airports were stalled because of the ongoing aftershocks and the mounting destruction.

We worked on (booking a flight) for two days and there was nothing happening, then we finally got in touch with some people in Canada, and it took them a full day to get a flight home for us, she said.

Here in Invermere, the local A&W has launched a fundraiser to help. The store is seeking donations towards relief efforts in Nepal. A&W will match every donation, the sum of which will then be matched by the government of Canada.

We have done this sort of fundraising in the past with other natural disasters that have taken place around the world, said Eric Vanderkruk, the owner and manager of the A&W in Invermere.

This way, the money goes four times as far as if we were just to donate it on our own.

Mr. Vanderkruk said he was particularly inspired to help raise money for the cause in Nepal because of his experience travelling there twice with his wife.

To actually see what has taken place in some of the areas that we have visited, that really struck home, he said. I really felt that we needed to help in any way we could.

Mr. Vanderkruk said he is optimistic about how much money this fundraiser will generate because of how willing to donate his customers have been in the past. He emphasized that the two-way relationship his store takes towards charity is a big reason for its past successes.

I mean, it is one thing to ask our guests for donations, but I think we have to commit to participating as well, Mr. Vanderkruk said.

Now that she is safely home in the valley, Ms. Empey can reflect on her time in Nepal. She said one of the main things she noticed while she was there was how many people dropped everything to help others.

They have a real sense of community, she said. It is so beautiful to me, how people who have nothing can give so much.