Canyons Board of Education Member Andrew Edtl Shares His Insights Following Deadly Earthquake
A member of the Canyons Board of Education who has toiled in several humanitarian civic assistance missions to the Kingdom of Morocco with the Utah Air National Guard says he “has no doubts they will rebuild” after the devastation caused by the 6.8-magnitude quake on Sept. 8.
“One of the things that I never worried about would be their ability to respond, their ability to come together, and their ability to take care of each other” says Canyons Board member Andrew Edtl, who most recently visited Morocco in June.
Edtl sat down with Connect Canyons to discuss his experiences and the resilience of the Moroccan people. He says in this week’s podcast that the North African country has come a long way in modernizing its infrastructure, response capabilities, and healthcare. However, many towns were all but destroyed in the quake, which is said to have been the most powerful to hit the region in more than 100 years.
While the Moroccan government has not immediately accepted foreign aid in response to the disaster, Edtl said there are still groups on the ground, helping.
Since the quake, nearly 3,000 have died and another 2,500 have been reported injured.
The earthquake impacted roughly 300,000 people in the southern part of Morocco. To put that number into perspective, just over 220,000 people live within the boundaries of the Canyons School District.
Edtl describes his visits to Morocco with the Utah Air National Guard as a partnership that has been cultivated for years. “We gain so much out of being able to interact with them, being able to learn from there, being able to work in a different type of environment, and it’s reciprocal, right?”
During the humanitarian missions to Morocco, Edtl worked to set up hospitals and other health facilities. Each year, Edtl and others in the U.S. guard spend weeks in Morocco, providing health care to rural areas, and helping train locals and members of the Royal Armed Forces of Morocco.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to not only work with our counterparts in Morocco, but also with the amazing people who live there,” Edtl said. “In the past, we’ve worked with them on several programs specifically for disaster response … It’s been a rewarding partnership for both sides.”
As many across the globe have done since the quake, Edtl has reached out to some of the Moroccans he’s met during his time in the country. He says he’s thankful his friends and the friends of some of his other colleagues in the Utah Air National Guard have all said they are safe.
“Obviously, everyone has that spike of panic,” Edtl said, “but we are lucky that our friends and colleagues in Morocco that we keep in touch with have all reported that they are safe.”
Edtl says he’s concerned about the Moroccan economy as the country rebuilds. “Tourism was hit hard, obviously, by the pandemic, and then a major earthquake is certain to disrupt their tourism industry …. I feel for them in that area,” he says.
Edtl also encourages the Canyons community to look for ways, such as donations to reputable humanitarian aid organizations, to help from afar.
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