Naperville professor survives quake, plans to stay in Nepal
Nepal earthquake survivor Mark Rosenbaum of Naperville has food, water, shelter and occasional electricity when his hotel runs a diesel generator at night.
And as long as the Northern Illinois University marketing professor has his basic needs met, he says he plans to stay in the country where he is teaching on a Fulbright scholarship until June.
"I don't believe it's appropriate for Americans to leave simply because the situation has become uncomfortable," he said Tuesday via Skype. "As long as I have food, water and electricity, I will stay, and I believe that's representative of what the Fulbright is about."
Rosenbaum, 47, said water for drinking and bathing is in short supply, but more is expected to arrive Wednesday on one of the water trucks that always supplies the neighborhood of Jawalakhel. He's heard planes land and seen shipments of aid come in, but he fears the country is getting "overwhelmed" and lacks the organization to get supplies where they're needed in the aftermath of the disaster.
"My situation can change dramatically within the next 24 hours if we don't have shipments of diesel fuel and water," he said.
Rosenbaum's situation went from normal to chaotic Saturday afternoon when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook the ground for 15 to 20 seconds, destroying historic sites and killing more than 4,400 people. He was working at home when the quake began, not just with motion but bringing an "extremely loud" sound he says he'll always remember.
But when it hit, he knew what to do. He had been warned.
Kathmandu typically experiences a major earthquake every 80 years, U.S. Embassy officials told Rosenbaum when he arrived, and the time was ripe for another to occur.
"I want to say it was a shock, but it really wasn't," he said. "In the back of my mind, I always had this idea to be prepared, so when it occurred, I didn't panic because I knew what was happening."
He grabbed his laptop and ran outside. When the quaking stopped, he was concerned first and foremost for surrogate mothers living with babies in his building. He said residents took turns running back inside the building, which since has been deemed structurally unsound, to gather supplies the infants need.
Then Rosenbaum found a new place to stay, a nearby hotel built more recently than his 1950s-era apartment building. He said many older brick buildings in Kathmandu not reinforced with concrete were devastated, along with Hindu temples from the 1300s.
"Many historic sites are now destroyed. There's such a sad feeling," he said. "In many ways to me, Kathmandu has died."
Residents whose homes were destroyed have set up tent camps in open fields, away from structures that could hurt them in the aftershocks that continued occasionally throughout Monday. Without any toilets or water for bathing, Rosenbaum said he thinks public health soon will become an issue.
Communicating with family and staff members at NIU through email, Facebook and Skype, Rosenbaum has assured them his conditions are not as dire as those faced by rural residents of Nepal or people whose homes collapsed.
"My family at first wanted me to leave the country and head home but I had to explain that my situation doesn't represent what they're seeing on TV," Rosenbaum said. "I'm fortunate to live where I do ... I feel a sense of relief that I'm not experiencing what I'm seeing on video."
The school where Rosenbaum is teaching and researching, Kathmandu University's School of Management, has closed for the week, but he said it was not heavily damaged and is expected to reopen Monday. He'll lose a week of work time, but he still plans to finish research on topics including why men from Nepal choose to work abroad and how street harassment of women and girls affects the economy.
He chose to come to Nepal to help Kathmandu University launch its doctoral program in business and "make a difference in the country" as a Fulbright recipient and a cultural scholar. While worries about water linger, Rosenbaum said he and others in the area are eager to go back to life before the quake.
"It's damaged, but there's a sense that you must go to your coffee shop -- it's part of your daily routine," he said. "We talk about the earthquake, but life has to go on."