Anas Alakkad and Faris Allahham, Germany
When Anas Alakkad, a Saar-based translator and paramedic, saw images of German cities flooded on his Facebook channel Sunday night, he sent messages to Syrian friends from all over Germany.
“There was a debate about whether we should somehow try to help,” said the 28-year-old, who arrived in Germany as a refugee six years ago. “The answer was pretty obvious to me: we had to do it.”
Alakkad and his best friend, graphic designer Faris Allahham, began translating messages from German volunteer organizations into Arabic. On Monday they decided to leave for the affected area, two and a half hours by car from their home.
“The destruction was so emotionally shocking,” he recalled. “No matter what you’ve seen on TV, it’s more devastating.”
He and six other Syrians spent all Tuesday cleaning up debris from a house in the small town of Sinzig, south of Bonn, where at least 12 people died in instant floods last Wednesday.
“Everything was wrapped in mud and heavy: human chains had to be formed to get it out of the basement and into the street, where it could be picked up by trucks.” The floods had ravaged entire trees in the building’s garden and had washed up piles of bottles in the front room.
Throughout the day, Alakkad and his friends generated more interest through his Facebook group “Syrian Volunteers in Germany.” On Wednesday, the number of Syrian volunteers arriving in the area had doubled.
“The biggest challenge is finding places to spend the night,” he said. “If we get enough beds, we can get hundreds of volunteers to come and help.
“We have all traveled from Syria to Germany, mainly on foot. Our pain and stress threshold is quite high. Some Syrians have driven to West Germany from Berlin and slept in their cars overnight.
“When a disaster strikes, you have to help each other. We all know how important it is. ”
Mrs. Feng, 53, China
When Ms. Feng, a former staff member of the university, saw that the catastrophic floods affected Zhengzhou last week, she hurried to volunteer to help her. “I’m a civilian volunteer,” she said. “In these circumstances, I don’t think too much, I’m just trying to do what I can. Zhengzhou is the city where I grew up and this university is where I grew up a lot, there is no reason not to help. A good name is not what I am looking for, I think being on earth and [to] doing the job is the most essential thing. “
He believes much more can be done to prepare for events that worsen the climate crisis. “There is not enough preparation to deal with an extreme climate. The city’s regulatory system is very insensitive to this disaster. I only received an alarm the second day after the government flooded the city. At my school, there are not even sandbags for flood prevention and there was no alarm before the floods.
“I think safety education is very crucial: schools must be taught at different stages of education. Our children lack this education, and that’s pretty scary. Now the situation is much better with the help of professional rescue teams, but I think the Chinese government can do better in flood prevention. ”
He points out that his city is well prepared for the fire, with trials every year, but that there is no comprehensive flood prevention system.
Global warming itself is too far removed from his life to worry about. “I focus on what’s ahead of me,” she says, but she stays off the scale of disaster. “I am just shocked. I can hardly breathe.
Volunteering has made him feel useful. “I feel happy. Helping others, being in need of others, gives me special happiness. Those who need it make me feel my value. In the past, when others say it, I don’t understand them at all. But both “I have been made to understand this happiness in recent days. I am also proud from within; I am deeply pleased to have tried my best to contribute to this city where I live and believe.”
Grigory Mochkin, Russia
When a devastating “airpocalypse” landed in Yakutsk, the capital of the Yakutia region in northeastern Siberia, a robust 32-year-old CrossFit trainer began acting.
Grigory Mochkin, businessman and athlete, said he signed up as one of hundreds of volunteers to fight fires because he was “moved by outrage on social media and the fact that [the fires] they have touched us so closely, the place where we live ”.
While recording a video during a recent trip, he asked CrossFitters around the world to send support to help volunteer brigades fight the unprecedented fires in Yakutia. “Strong CrossFit,” he declared, putting a fist in the air.
But he also spoke of a battle against the fires that he fears will affect the lives of the next generation, including his daughter, who was born this year. “She’s my first child,” she said in an interview. “And I have a responsibility to make sure my son doesn’t breathe that air, the same things we’re breathing now.”
Yakutia is a unique and beautiful region, a place where winters are among the coldest on Earth, with low temperatures of -50 ° C. But summers have been increasingly burdened by the worsening of fires.
“From my social circle, I would say that 50% have already seriously considered moving away or at least leaving [Yakutia] during the time of year when there are fires and going to a warm country during the very cold winter season, ”he said.
He said he saw the cause behind the fires as “95% natural”, but that local mismanagement had also allowed them to grow out of control. “Fires are nature; it’s hard to fight nature,” he said. “Just as a child develops for nine months in the womb, it’s the same as putting out fires: you can’t jump and put them out. So it takes a long time and that’s why there’s a lot of outrage.”
Equipped with shovels and water packs, Mochkin and other volunteers, including other CrossFitters, travel dozens of miles to help build controlled firewalls and burns that slow the spread of fires.
“It’s hard when the smoke blows in our direction,” he said. “But in general, it’s easier for athletes, it’s normal for us. You have to walk a lot carrying a heavy load on your back ”.
Beau Gulledge, 21, and Annaet Juarez, 25, American
Young women forming California Conservation Corps forest fire teams, a program that provides training to start a firefighting career and experience working alongside Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and Office of Fire teams. Territorial administration fighting the biggest flames exhausting but rewarding.
Beau Gulledge, a 21-year-old California girl in her sophomore year, says when she started, as the only woman to reach the crew after training, she felt like a fish out of water.
That feeling subsided as soon as she was sent to fight her first real fire in July 2020.
“It was three in the morning when we got the call,” he says, explaining that he wondered if it was really happening. “I was thinking about the food I had eaten over the last month. Had he pushed me physically enough? Am I ready for that? “
With the smoke stinging his eyes, he spent 12 hours straight helping to build a “line of fire,” suppressing the forward movement of the flames. When the fire was extinguished, his perspective had changed. “I was physically exhausted, but I was so happy that my body could come by and do anything,” she says.
Annaet Juarez, 25, says camaraderie has made her firefighting more meaningful. During training, which includes a grueling “package test,” where recruits must carry 45-pound packages across 3 miles in less than 45 minutes, he collapsed under weight and pressure.
“It was one of the most physically demanding things I’ve ever had to do,” he says. “I didn’t think I would get it, but my crew supported me, and that’s what made it end.”
She is now part of an all-female crew and while she says fighting fires is harder than she imagined, her team makes the job easier. “When they say the fire is hot, that’s how it is hot. Especially when you are 3 feet away from him and you have to be moving, working, cutting the line, ”she says. “It’s a lot harder than I thought, but it makes me stronger and now I know I’m able to do a lot more.”
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