Politics & Government

Texas woman learns granddaughter is safe after Nepal quake

Michelle Welsch and a woman in Nepal.
Michelle Welsch and a woman in Nepal. Courtesy

Ginger Castranova spent days worrying about her granddaughter, wondering if the New York entrepreneur who left everything behind to help others in Nepal was safe.

On Tuesday — days after a massive earthquake rocked the Himalayan region, killing more than 4,500 people and injuring more than 9,000 more — the Granbury woman finally got word that her granddaughter was safe.

“I absolutely had relief,” Castranova said quietly after getting the news. “I was fearful for her well-being and safety.”

Castranova is among the countless Texans who have been tracking family and friends in Nepal, desperately trying to make sure loved ones are safe at a time when 8 million people in Nepal have been impacted by the deadly natural disaster.

Nepalis aren’t just reeling from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, but also the avalanche, aftershocks and landslides.

Many have lost loved ones. Others have lost their homes. Even those who didn’t lose their homes are sleeping outside by choice, worried that still-standing buildings could soon collapse.

Castranova’s 30-year-old granddaughter, Michelle Welsch, has been tweeting out updates since the earthquake hit, although her grandmother doesn’t have a Twitter account and couldn’t see the updates.

The quake, she tweeted, was “so scary my legs are still shaking.”

She sent out updates that she was worried about power and water and offered ways people could help track their loved ones.

“Nepal relied upon foreign aid BEFORE the earthquake,” she tweeted. “We’re going to need help now. Let’s make sure it goes to the right places.”

‘Very scared’

Sara Remgi learned of the earthquake while scrolling through Facebook Saturday morning. She ran to wake up her husband, Santosh, because his sister, brother-in-law and nieces live there.

“They were all fine, but were very scared,” Remgi, of Fort Worth, said.

They have been able to get updates from family through Viber, learning they are staying at a catering hall not far from their Kathmandu home.

But they worry when they are inside any structure and they feel shaking, so they quickly run outside.

They have been among the lucky ones, with a food supply nearby.

“The owner of the hall is able to provide food for them but it is quickly running out due to the volume of people,” Remgi said.

“People are beginning to panic and talk about a larger earthquake coming,” she said. “They are very scared. All the shops and stores are out of food and water.”

‘Pray for all’

Remgi, Castranova and others urge anyone who can help to donate to those in Nepal.

At Texas Wesleyan University, where there are more than 150 Nepalese students, volunteers are working to raise money to help with relief efforts.

Various fundraisers on campus will be held; Nepal flags will be sold to show support for the victims; and there will be a day of awareness, observed at 11 a.m. May 5 in the Campus Mall, to sell t-shirts, receive henna designs and participate in various activities.

The Nepalese Society of Texas in Irving soon will send a team of 10 to 15 people to Nepal with food and medical supplies, officials there say. The group is accepting donations ranging from money to first aid kits, blankets, hand sanitizer, flashlights with batteries, energy bars, pain relievers and more.

“As my Nepali friend just said, ‘Money in the villages is worthless. Where are they going to buy? They need supplies, food, manpower,’” Welsch tweeted.

She also noted that she worries that care packages sent individually may take a while to get to those who need them most.

But she and others urge people to donate and do what they can.

“The days, weeks and months ahead are going to be difficult for everyone there,” Remgi said. “Please continue to pray for all and most of all for the quakes and after shocks to stop.”

Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

Helping Nepal

Several humanitarian groups are working to get volunteers, medical supplies and food to Nepal to help those who need it most. Ways to help earthquake victims in Nepal include:

Donating to the Nepalese Society of Texas, the International Committee for the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Samaritan’s Purse, UNICEF and the World Food Program.

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