Lorca: Rebuilding with community and international support

At the end of June members from the local Mazarrón Bahia Lions visited Lorca along with Lions District Governor MD116A Ma Esperanca Pelegrín Feliu and lions zone Chairman MD116A Jarmo Peltonen to begin talks with the local council and assess the situation to see where money raised locally and relief funds sent in from other Lions groups would be best spent in the relief efforts since the 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck just outside of Lorca on the 11 May.
Many have been left homeless or facing the prospect of months if not years of work ahead to restore damaged property. Driving through the city centre you can see the coloured tags indicating the inspection of buildings that are safe to reoccupy or require major structural work to make safe again and some marked for demolition. Although from the news most people have seen the devastation to old buildings and churches the structural impact to newer buildings has also been severe. In some areas the damage only appears cosmetic but as this visit revealed often the damage inside many buildings is far worse.

The Lions meeting with representatives from the council took place at the distribution centre where all the donations are being received. Currently only four people are running the centre relying on the help of volunteers to see through the work that still needs to be done. Operating every day since the earthquake struck the immediate flood of support pushed through the enormous job of coordinating relief efforts getting food and water to where it was needed quickly and effectively as possible but as the weeks have passed volunteer numbers have diminished while there is still a great need to continue the work.

After the quake large companies from all the major supermarkets and retailers have delivered pallets of water and bedding which can be easily organised and distributed in large numbers to where they are needed, Unfortunately this leaves mixed bags of donations as a lower priority because they are a labour intensive job. Items donated in bulk such as bags of rice have the advantage of being processed easily and distributed fairly. Highlighting the need for volunteers to go in and take on the task of sorting through the individual boxes that are still awaiting attention.
The centre’s immediate priority has been to take care of the people left homeless living in the tents set up by the government. With few facilities at their disposal and many having no work and family’s to feed, volunteers are working daily to aid relief efforts.

Thanks to the generous support and donations from people locally, and a cheque from Lions International Immediate Aid Fund which was presented on the day by The Mazarrón Bahia Lions club for 7100 Euros, the people will be able to provided food for 8 days for around 400 people made homeless and living in tents in the centre of Lorca.
The council are looking at options for pre fabricated houses or renting property to start re homing those that have lost everything but for the moment people will be living at the camp until a solution can be found and one by one they can be helped to get back on their feet.

With the situation in Lorca the Lions objective has been to first provide immediate assistance and secondly to look at where long term support is needed to assist relief efforts for the community. By working with the council in Lorca to identify where the Lions can be most effective a number of projects where identified in the meeting, including the Centro de Desarrollo Infantil, The Child development and care centre that took heavy damage.
Estimated at around 150,000 Euros to repair the centre is just one of the many community causes that require attention. The damage inside (see photos) is far worse that it would appear from the exterior. At the time of the quake fortunately nobody was in the facility. From the destruction inside to the dangers of evacuating into the streets surrounded by high rise apartments the situation could have been so much more severe. It is clear now that nowhere is totally safe, and in case another quake should hit, the council are looking at the option of building an entirely new facility away from the high rise to safe guard the young people in the centre..
By raising the needs found in Lorca to a national and international level The 16 members of the Mazarrón Bahia Lions hope that a real difference can be made. In cases of natural disasters such as this the Lions Foundation Principals are to direct support through the nearest local Lions Club. It is their task to spend the money wisely on what the people need, without any administration costs, so that by bringing together other Lions Clubs in Spain and world wide this small local Lions group can aim to take on larger projects and deliver lasting results where there is a long term need for help rebuilding in the community. With 110 Lions clubs in Spain and Lions groups working in 206 countries the Lions International have experience coordinating effective relief efforts.

Every penny donated to the Lions goes straight to where it is needed with nothing lost along the way to administration costs or expenses. By taking part on the regular organised trips, direct donations or through the sale of bric a brac, the generous support of our local community has already made a difference to the people of Lorca and any moneys received to the Lorca appeal will directly help people that need it today and help towards practical solutions to enable the community to rebuild for the future.

Mark Stocks

July 2011

Article first published by the Costa Calida Chronicle

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Photo © Mark Stocks www.vistasdemurcia.com

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