Albania Earthquake Update
Albania Earthquake Update
Dec 23, 2019
It has been almost a month since the strongest earthquake in decades shook Albania. Homes and businesses were wrecked; fifty-one people lost their lives, two thousand were injured, and four thousand lost their homes. There were tremors for days afterwards—a reported 1,300 aftershocks, even as rescuers searched for people in the rubble.
Pogradec, where Nehemiah Gateway (NG) has its headquarters, is about 100 miles from the epicenter. For a few days after the earthquake, Pogradec, a popular summer tourist destination, was so full of earthquake refugees it felt like summer, with hundreds of earthquake refugees sheltering in available hotel rooms. NG provided blankets for people who needed them. It also housed three people in its facilities during that time. The following week, the survivors all went home, to attempt to resume normal existence while living in temporary shelters.
Among the rescuers was Tirana-based NG partner Emergency Response Albania (ERA). ERA is an ambulance service in a country faces many challenges in delivering timely emergency medical response to people who need it. During the days following the earthquake, ERA paramedics worked tirelessly to help find survivors in the wreckage, provided emergency care for survivors, and transported them to hospitals. They provided emergency food and supplies, and space heaters for people living in tents. They went deep into their reserves of medicine and supplies, and their off-road rescue vehicle was damaged during the rescue effort.
NG’s partner Profamilija is working in the Peza area near Tirana. In that area, 250 families suffered damage to their homes, with some houses destroyed and others significantly structurally damaged. Profamilija has been providing humanitarian aid and will be helping with reconstruction in Peza.
Meanwhile, in Durrës, our friends at Qendra Nehemia Durres provided food, blankets, and shelter to people who lost their homes and are continuing to provide food and psychological assistance to the many people who have come back but have no homes.
Immediate aid received, including a $15,000 grant from the Global Giving Foundation, will be used to pay for the humanitarian support provided by NG Albania, ERA, Profamilija, and Qendra Nehemia Durrës to survivors of the earthquake, and help them address their immediate needs.
Moving forward, Nehemiah Gateway Albania will help earthquake survivors living in remote rural villages. These villagers were already poor and living on the margins of Albanian society when the earthquake destroyed their homes. Many of them are now wintering in tents, because they can’t leave their livestock. Donations will help villagers fix their homes, to keep the winter out and stay safe and warm. With government response focusing on urban areas, this is a tremendous unmet need.