KJO.com  - Andie's Tsunami Story

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  Hey all,

Feeling abit better now...emotionally, and felt it was time to tell you my account of events...really more of a reflection to help me come to terms. Feel free not to read, its not exactly jolly, but very mild compared to the horror others experienced, being here in Bangkok now hearing others stories really brings it home how lucky we were. For those who dont know, Koh Jum is just behind Phi Phi, so they got the brunt of it, I think we got the bit that came through the gap inbetween Phi PHi Don and Leh, Bamboo and Chicken island. Si and I had only visited these islands a day before.

In contrast, Christmas day was the best ever, we had been avidly plannig many activities to keep us amused...beach olympics, secret santa..including a suprise visit to santas grotto (Bec and sara did thenmselves proud), treasure hunt involving leggin it and swimming the beach...obviously our team won!!! In the evening Gao, the amazing, lovely, happy, kind man who let us reserve almost all his bungalows, (-we needed seven out of nine of them, not right on the beach as we usually would go, about 150m inland) had arranged a free Christmas buffet and disco for us, what a cool night...loads of party games and fun, then, 'Fubar',where we had made friends with Wud the Thai owner, we called it 'The Ship' cause it was right on the beach and made out of an old boat, great night all round and lots of merriness.

Woke up just about to have brekkie, there was some commotion outside, sarah and everyone were pointing to the beach, thought the trees it was clear loads of waves had suddenly broken. Not big ones but really weird as our beach was usually like a millpond, then another wave came in and filled the storm drain going up to bex and Bazzers bungalow, Si's and I were 3rd in line closest.

A little more concerned, as I watched this almighty wave on its way in, everyone was screaming, "mudge run", I wasnt dressed, just in my towel not even time to put on shoes, I legged it.

People were looking back in amazment, running from the water some waist deep, it stopped about 300m inland. Locals were giving lifts where they could, a man was screaming that there was an injured lady, so Baz and Si ran back to get my first aid kit. When they went back found nothing left of Barry and Beckys bungalow, half our door was missing and the inpacting wall was in, everything was think in silt and rubbish, bed thrown against the wall and the sink had been ripped off, somehow lots of our belongings had been swept into the concrete toilet.

We got driven to the hill where everyone was congrigating, I was attending to minor cuts and stuff when someone called the injured lady was up o the hill in the woods, still shaking and in just my towel we clambered up there. The lady had her husband and children with her, she was in agony, had severe lacerations to both lower limbs, she had lost a lot of blood but the bleeding had already been controlled with some dirty looking sorongs, it was clear she was shocked, I said we should elevate her limbs, but it was so difficult on a hill with loads of logs and branches everywhere. At ths point her husband told me he was an anaethatist, which was a major relief, I gave her some really strong analgesia, Matt had given me them for my headaches (thanks!!), I also had various cannulas and IV antibiotics, I always carry them in Asia but never thought I'd ever use them, maybe for a dog bite or something but not this!!

In seconds her husband had a line in while I was drawing up the antibiotics...still in my towel and shaking, on a hill, ...very surreal, while I was giving the IV's Si and Baz and the boys had Knocked up a stretcher made of branches, T-shirts and a towels to try and transfer her down. We had no ideas of the scale of things and no news, all we knew was the locals seems worried about another wave and we need to get to safe ground....but we really needed more medical supplies. Si was there with me all the time supporting and encouraging me. Trying to discuss evacuation and what we needed and finding a phone was very difficult as much of it was lost in translation with the locals, I was just looking after the lady, deep breathing and giving her sips as it was boiling hot in the sun...another worry. We finally persuaded them to take us to the clinic, they were reluctant as it was near the sea.

We tranferred into the back of a truck to go to the clinic, she was screaming in agony whenever she was moved, people lifted me into the truck too,  holding my towel on, but really keeping my dignity seemed trival, and rather a role reversal!! The truck was steel and had been in the sun, was too hot to touch with bare feet or hands but we had to endure the burning. When we got there they told us not open till 2pm!!!! An hour and a half!! The boys went with her husband to break in....came out with as much as poss  but it was very limited, fluids and giving sets at least, next they took us to safe ground, a local had given me the shirt off his back an someone found me some shorts!! The truck driver, obviously shaken too, was caining it on the dirt road, over bumps, so the lady was screaming and very stressed, so just tried to keep her breathing slow and talk to her, she said she had lost feeling in all her limbs. I'd managed to put a drip up while was were in transit, until we finally arrived at what seemed to be the island meeting point, where all the farangs were taken...I was happy to be reunited with all my friends.

Only then did it begin to sink in. We were taken on a trek through the jungle to a hut at the botton of a hill, this would become our make shift camp where we would spend the night. The lady was stable feeling and colour returned and her pulse was fine, so I left her with her family to wait.It was just a worry how long we'd have to wait as all we knew from a radio was that Phi Phi was really bad and choppers were going there first, a night with no more IV anti biotics would not keep infection at bay. Luckily they managed to get an army chopper to the school before dark, the boys helped tranfer the family to the school where an army helicopter was waiting.

We all just hugged each other in disbelief, realising how lucky we all were to have not a scatch..all the 'what if's' emereged, and was the main source of conversation around the camfire.The locals were amazing, they'd brought water supplies and knocked up food for everyone in an hour! It was a very long, cold and scary old night.

Just after dawn we made our way back to the resort to see what we could salvage. On the way back locals were giving out free food and water as we passed by shops, Si was barefoot, he'd given me his shoes, couple on a bike stopped and the lady took off her shoes for us!!!

Couldnt believe our eyes when we got to the beach road, all huts on the front were completely destroyed, longtailboats and their motors had been lifted out of the sea and smashed 50ms away from sea on cocconut trees, tops of the cocconut trees had been taken off!!! The whole of the resort that we were behind was demolished, Fubar, where we had spent such a great christmas night was just gone without a trace. We heard on the grapevine that 5 locals were dead, and the Phi Phi ferry had sunk with 400 tourists on, this is when we feared for Gao, he touted for custom on the ferry everyday....the scene of our party the night before, Gao's resturant was wiped out, along with most of the resort, Bex and Baz and the swedish couple lost everthing, Si and I found some stuff, salvaged clothes from the mud, but just relieved to be together and alive, realising it was the fact we went to a quiet undeveloped island with less to be destroyed, that saved us from a much more horrific time, nothing really compared to Phi Phi. We then found Gao, so relieved to see him, still smiling and all hugged him, then he just mentioned (thai way..still with a smile)"yesterday was a bad day....I lost my brother on PhiPhi". We then were put on a boat to the main land and taken to Krabi. It was mad ambulances everywhere, walking wounded,helicopters, the scale of destruction began to unfold.

We are now in Bangkok, the atmos is sombre, we are still coming to terms with the scale of it, its everywhere, they are appealing for blood, so we all went and donated yesterday, unfortunatedly I passed out on them and didnt give enough for them to use which im gutted about as im Rh neg, even more rare in Asia apparently, still i was a good source of amusment for the nurses and doctors when they found out I was a nurse, and i got a courtesy tour of the childrens unit for the pleasure!!! Simon has changed his flight to stay with me till the 4th, he has looked after me immaculately and we are closer than ever.

We are going out tonight to try and forget, but it seems totally wrong to be celebrating New Year, all 11 of us will be happy just being together.

Love you all dearly,