Surf's Up on a Geologic Time Bomb

"As years have gone by, the Mentawai people have just accepted their fate," he says. "We've had to change that pattern of thinking to say you can control your destiny when you live in this region."

The work isn't easy. Just getting to the more than 200 villages is a challenge.

"We do around 1,000 nautical miles a week, ferrying our staff all over the place," Jenkins says of the marine environment famous for storms.

Padang, the closest big city, is a 10-hour ferry or 40-minute small plane ride away.

"Then you get to the village and that's another risk again," Jenkins says. "Your nutrition falls off; your hygiene levels fall off. It is really hot and humid and you have no communication system unless you have a satellite phone."

Not to mention the risks of venomous snakes, dengue fever, malaria and typhoid.

"At the end of the day, you either do this or you don't," Jenkins says matter-of-factly.

As relief efforts in the villages continue, charter surf boats arrive from around the world.

"There are places here where the waves are just flawless," As you watch them they just peel down the line in perfect position and sometimes you just drop in a wave, and you're in the barrel, and off you go," Riehle, US SurfAid board president, says.

While surfers continue their daily search for the perfect wave, there is an undercurrent of fear here in paradise, because no one can say for sure when the next big earthquake will hit.

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