This Dude in Japan
Thailand Vacation Part II -Tsunami
"OH SHIT", we both saw the wave coming straight for us or rather straight for the hotel, and it definately was going to reach the second floor. I slammed the glass balconly door, grabbed Hiromi's hand and we ran out of the room. As we reached the door I heard the glass balcony door shatter behind us. Their was a maid in the hallway screaming for everyone to go upstaris to the third floor, but I barely heard her cause I was already on my way. Once we got to the third floor everything was a little more calm. The hotels maids were crying and apoligizing to everyone. Most people the people here weren't injured to bad, but there were some bad cuts and the air was starting to smell like the blood. Blood was everywhere on the floor as injured people began to make their way up to the third floor. There was a lot of nervous energy in the air, but most people had stopped crying and everyone was talking and speculating. At this point we still had no idea how serious an incident this was. We could only wonder whether the wave was isolated to Phi Phi or had it hit other parts of Thailand, we had no idea what we were still in the middle of. I wanted to check out the condition of our room, but I was hesitant, and wanted to wait for a little while. More than one person commented how they had felt and small, but long earthquake during breakfast, but no one had thought about the connection between tsunami's and earthquake. I didnt even feel it, so its understandable that no one would have expected such a large tsunami. After about thirty minutes another wave hit the island, smaller than the first, but huge and very deadly. After about another thirty minutes I felt it would be ok to check out our room. We had been packing so all of our things we together and off the floor. I expected everything to be wet, but everything was fine. The floor was covered with broken glass and sand, and the furniture had been moved around a little, but we had all of our things except for our sandals which we would find in the hallways of the hotel......far from our room, and our passports which were in the hotel desk on the first floor...were they were 'safer'. Actually now they were somewhere in the ocean. We couldnt believe how lucky we were as we brought our things up to the third floor. We didnt have a scratch on us, and we had 99% of our belongings, as the vacation continued we would realize that we had to be in the top 10% of Tsunami victims.
When we got back to the third floor this big Australian...I think his nickname was jaws asked me to help him move a guy to a medical triage that had been set up on the third floor of the other building in the hotel complex. He was moving quick, maybe a little too quick, but was one of the MVP's of that day. We couldnt move the guy until someone looked at him so I found Hiromi. She was talking to a Japanese lady who was holding a baby, but whose husband and son were missing. Me and Hiromi went next door to the triage to see if we could find them. The people on the triage were a lot more injured than those on the third floor of the hotel. These were the people who were on the beach, and had to make a run/swim for it. The guy in charge was the black guy named C.C. . He was the only docter available at the time. He was a psychiatrist. Hiromi started talking to another Japanese couple. They were newlyweds and this was their honeymoon. The husbands leg was badly cut, and his wife's neck was badly cut, in fact she was the most injured on the triage. I went back to the first Japanese lady's room with the baby to tell her I found her husband, but we hadnt located her son yet. At this news she started crying and I tried to tell her not t to worry, I'm sure we would find her son, in my elementary Japanese. I went back to the triage, and Hiromi went back to her room.
The tsunami hit the island around 10:45, now it was about 2:00 pm. We were really lucky it came in the morning, less people injured and more light to get things done. Their was no electricity or running water. C.C. and some of the hotel staff were organizing things while we waited for news of rescue and Jaws was kinda a freelance maverick, but and M.V.P. nevertheless. He asked me to help him get the guy out of some rubble so we went away from the hotel complex to the island. Their were about six other guys helping remove this guy and we were in the way so we went deeper into the island. We saw a body covered on the pavement of an old lady as we made our way to the main street The streets that I had walked the night before were a disaster. No open space just narrow walkways through the rubble. 7Eleven was caved in, the restaurant were I ate dinner the night before was an empty room with no entrance wall. After about fifteen minutes we smelled gas so we turned back, and went to 7Eleven to get some kind of supplies. The store was caved in so our shopping choices were limited, we were able to get water, juice, and Jaws grabbed a carton on cigerettes which I thought was kinda funny, but I think the people on the triage wanted the cigerettes more than the water. When I got back Hiromi was with the first Japanese ladies husband, and the son had been found. While I was away she had moved our stuff to their hotel room which was on the third floor, and still in perfect condition. Her son was ok, just a little scared and scratched, her husbands back and chest was really bruised, but he had the best bed on the triage...and little wicher sofa, which he would remain on until we put him on a helicopter later. Everyone else were on blue mats that we salvaged from the hotel. Me and Jaws had got a few mats from a storage room in the hotel. We didnt have a key so he asked me to get a fire extinguisher to breaks the door so he wouldnt hurt himself, by the time I broughtt it back he had already kicked the door down, but his limp only lasted about twenty minutes. About this time we got information that the first boat was coming. We decided who was the most hurt and we loaded them onto the boat. The Japanese lady with the cut neck would be the first to go. However we would find out later that she didnt make it. We tried to get her husband on the same boat, but he wasnt as hurt so he was put on the second boat. Normally carrying people would be no problem, but my right had was still injured so I had to be careful of that, but many times I was forced to use it. Lucky I didnt reinjure it, actually the docter said it was stronger than he expected when I got back from vacation. I spent a little time loading some boats with injured people, then C.C. asked me to walk through the hotel again just to check for anyone. While I was in the hotel I heard the first helicopters looking for a place to land. No one was there, but this one older guy who was ok, he was just chillin in his room so I went back onto the triage to check things out. Most people were gone from the triage by then, and me and HIromi went to the Japanese's family room on the third floor to breathe. We talked about our situation, and how lucky we were then we went back to the triage which was deserted except for Jaws and the older guy from the hotel who had a radio he was listening too. They told us that most everyone went up into the mountain to ensure their safety, and the others were next to the basketball court were the helicopters were landing. I went over to the new triage by the basketball courts. It smelt like shit. I don't know why, but it did. I saw the Japanese family and I helped put the husband on a helicopter, before his wife and two children got on his wife gave me their room key, because our suitcases were in their. This was around 3:30pm. For the next six hours I would load injured people on boats and helicopters, and on a few occasion walk into the island to help carry people to the rescue points. The helicopters dropped off some supplies and a few nurses but we still needed more. The people at my hotel were the luckiest they had the best view of the ocean, the best headstart, and were the first to get off the island. Most injured people from my hotel got off the island before dark. The rest of the island was more devasted, more injured, and had to be carried further and wait longer to get off. I saw a few cats on my trips into the island so that comforted me about the unlikelyness of another wave, but I was nervouse just the same. On at least three different occasions I was helping carry someone and a false alarm of another wave, sent us rushing toward higher ground. One one occasion me and another guy were carrying a guy with a hurt foot to the boat dock, as soon as we reached the dock about a hundred people rushed at and past us yelling wave. I had commented earlier that if the guy was lighter I could just carry him on my back. It ended up with me running with him on my back, for a false alarm, and my thigh hurting for three days as a result. I didn't see a lot of bodies on my trips, the old lady that was covered up though laid there all day, and in the evening blood was seeping from under the blanket. Later that night while I we were putting some people on the boat I got my cellphone wet, which I had stupidly let remain in my pocket. This guy had a 30 40 foot boat and he was offering to take people to Phuket, his boat got stuck in low water so we had to push it out, as we did the water raised from our ankles to our bellybuttons, thus ruining any electronics that we, or probably just I had in my pockets.
Everyone was helping, but occasionaly tempers would flare for different reasons and people would argue. I remember one guy telling his girlfriend that she couldn't leave yet because she was injured and she could either help people with him or go to the mountain were the others were, to which responded too by crying and saying she wanted to do niether. All he could do was walk off with a look of exparation on his face. I turned to Hiromi and thanked her for being strong and sensible. That night me and Hiromi went to the Japanese family's room. I was proud of myself for thinking to gather bottled water to take a shower with, but angry for not thinking to find a flashlight when I went walking through town, we did have about six lighters though.
While in our room we heard some guys in the hotel and they came too our room and we talked for a while. These two guys had a scuba diving business on the island and they were in the water during the tsunami. They told us that the tsunami took them on an underwater rollecoaster ride, and they had no control of their direction. They also said that everyone from their boat was not accounted for, and that their shop was destroyed. One guys bungalow was no longer in existence, but the other guys bungalow was in perfect condition, if he had been home he could have slept through the tsunami unharmed. They considered going back to their shop, but it was dark and they didnt have a flashlight so they went and found a room to sleep in. The room was hot and the mosquitos were biting, but we were clean uninjured, and had soft beds.
Early the next morning we went back downstairs to the triage. More injured people were coming from the other side of the island, and the helicopters had begun to come again. As the morning went on however the helicopters dropped food, (nice curry) supplies and more proffessionals. The day before they were only about five proffessionals, but this morning they were about twenty to thirty proffesionals on the island. Also people were begining to come down from the mountain. Some of these people got on boats and left immiedetly, but some helped at the triage until the proffessionals took over. The situation wasn't good, but it was definitely a lot more under control now that proffessional rescuers were on t he island Around one me and Hiromi decided to go. The dock was crowded, and I prayed that it wouldnt collapse. Some boats small boats were being loaded with bodies. Me and Hiromi got on a middle sized boat which took us too a larger boat that was nicer than the one we originally came to the island on. They gave us orange juice, coffe and muffins. Banana nut if I remember correctly. to be cont.....