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The team leader had a reassuringly calm manner and offered up plenty of easy-to-follow practical advice. Most heads in the room were bowed over notebooks as people scribbled down his five-point checklist for assessing a disaster. He explained that the quality and quantity of the following necessities (listed in order of importance) were essential to survival: 1. Drinking water 2. Food 3. Shelter 4. Sanitation 5. Medicine and medical treatment It sounded quite simple, but it was critical knowledge for first-time aid workers volunteering in extreme circumstances and it illustrated just how inexperienced they were in dealing with an emergency situation.

They have nothing left. Some of them were naked after the storm. ” One evening a friend took me to meet Chit Swe, who had just returned from traveling with a group of fellow businessmen to the southern stretches of the delta. Even before the storm, the lower regions of the delta were accessible only by boat, as no road network had ever been built there. Hardly any news had been heard from those areas, and it was believed that villages there must have taken the brunt of the storm. The businessmen had companies in the delta—fishing operations and rice-trading firms—and they had left the city soon after the storm, heading out to the villages in a large boat loaded with rice, drinking water, and tarpaulin sheets that could be used for shelter.

Food 3. Shelter 4. Sanitation 5. Medicine and medical treatment It sounded quite simple, but it was critical knowledge for first-time aid workers volunteering in extreme circumstances and it illustrated just how inexperienced they were in dealing with an emergency situation. I jotted it all down, just in case:• If there is no clean drinking water, carry purifying tablets or, in a worst-case scenario, use drops of iodine (five drops per quart). • People will also need something to hold the water—make sure to have a good supply of jerricans.

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