Thursday, December 30, 2004

E-mail from Sri Lanka

Smartmom got this e-mail this morning from, Alesandra, a Park Slope friend who now lives in Sacramento. She received this from someone else (maybe the writer in Sri Lanka). Smartmom doesn't really know. Standing in the Apple Store in San Francisco, Smartmom has barely had a chance to read it, but she thought it would be important to post it here. It's very upsetting.

Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 08:51:36 -0800 (PST)
>>From: Aaron Peak
>>Subject: To Dave, Sue and Kelly from Aaron
>>To: Dave Purchase
>>Dear Dave, Sue and Kelly,
>>I heard from Nick and my Mom that you were trying
>>to get a hold of me. We just got back our
>>electricity and thus our phone and email is now
>>working again.
>>It has been a horrific few days here. Sunday
>>started off ok... beautiful day - but the
>>electricity went off, "oh well this is Asia!"
>>Jean decided to off for a bike ride and exchange
>>her books in Unawatuna at one of the beach guest
>>houses. I then got a call from her cousin in
>>Australia asking if we were ok? (the phone was
>>still working, as we have a battery, which does
>>not last very long).
>>I was then concerned for Jean and my very good
>>friends that have a restraunt on the beach in
>>Unawatuna..... I started walking..... It took me
>>30 minutes to reach the beach from our house and
>>it was like walking into another world, actually
>>it started before I could even see the beach!
>>Parts of houses, broken sinks, clothes, other
>>unidentifiable objects and of course bodies. As
>>I started up the main road that links all the
>>coastal towns together it kept getting worse and
>>I was haveing to scale electic poles, walls, cars
>>and trucks.
>>I finally made it to Unawatuna and basically
>>nothing was left - a wall here or there with tons
>>of trees, TVs, stuff from shops.
>>My friends restraunt was not there only a 1/4 of
>>the kitchen and his Grandmothers house was for
>>the most part gone. Sri Lankans and tourist was
>>wondering aimlessly around looking for family and friends....more dead
>>bodies, which were being lined up so people could ID them.
>>Finally I found someone who knew the family and
>>said that Grandmother was dead, Roshan's mother,
>>auntie and sister in hospital and Roshan was
>>there to ID his grandmother.
>>I then went to the resort where I use to stay and
>>there were tons of tourist with remains from
>>their suitcases or sitting there motionless.
>>I had lugged a lot of clean water from my house
>>so I was passing it around thinking I should be
>>doing more. Anyway, I finally ran into Roshan
>>and he was a wreck but kept on taking care of
>>business. We went back to his Grandmothers house
>>and slogged around in the wreckage to see what we
>>could slavage. We did find one of her cabinets
>>and managed to get some of her gold and money but
>>most was gone. We were then told to leave, as
>>everybody though another set of waves were
>>coming. It was dusk by then and you could see
>>the looters starting to search the houses.
>>He had to go back to the hospital and I ended up
>>walking home.
>>The next day I went to his other aunts house -
>>not by the beach - as they were burying his
>>grandmother. They had to do it fast, as the
>>hospital did not have any materials to embalm
>>her. At there house was a family of 4 British
>>tourist who had no where to go so Roshan's
>>brother brought them back to the house. They had
>>lost their 2 month old baby boy and were
>>devistated. I ended up taking them back to our
>>house for a shower, food and sleep.
>>They told me that they were at a beach restruant
>>- with tables on the sand - eating... The first
>>wave just appeared and swept them though the
>>restraunt, which collasped. The father just
>>happend to grab the baby and was holding them and
>>they went through another building - out the back
>>wall and ended up slammed againt a electric pole.
>> A bed then came flying by and crushed the babies
>>head and the fathers ribs. Meanwhile the mother
>>was swept into a shop and out the back into the
>>jungle. Their dauther was pretty much the same
>>but had a run-in with a barbed wire fence and the
>>son had a head-on with a motorcycle that was
>>surfing the wave.
>>They were pretty battered, both physically and
>>mentally. It took a long time to dress all there
>>wounds - some of which should have had stitches
>>but that was not an option at this point.
>>Fortunately for us our electricity came on -
>>seeing we were far enough away from the beach and
>>thus our power source was from a different area -
>>in land. We then started with calling the
>>British High Commission to try and get them to
>>Colombo, with the body, so they could go back to
>>England. This took a while and had to find
>>transport - with was another nightmare as there
>>was now no fuel for any vehicles, motorbikes
>>which still worked or was not damaged. We
>>finally got one - for a price - and they went off
>>to the hospital to get baby Charlie, who was on
>>ice, and brought him back to the house where we
>>made a makeshift casket for him. By that time
>>the High Commission got back with us and said the
>>British Government were going to hire helecopter
>>to transport people from a military airstrip not
>>far from our house. We again got the same
>>transport - for an even bigger price - and they
>>were off to the airport.
>>Jean and I sat back - reassessed - and I remember
>>that Roshan's mother said she went to the
>>doctor/hospital to get all her wounds taken care
>>of but they had nothing to give her - only that
>>purple stuff they put on cuts. They had run out
>>of all medications and bandages the day before.
>>Anyway, I collected what was left over from the 4
>>and took it to her - luckly Aunties house was
>>only a couple of kilometers away.
>>She then told me about her "experience" with the
>>waves. She was setting up the tables in the
>>restruant and the next thing she knew she and the
>>boy that was helping her were up in the rafters.
>>The building collasped and they were taken out to
>>sea. The second wave threw then on a roof, which
>>also collasped and the third wave rammed then
>>though the jewelery shop across the lane where
>>they ended up in the jungle.
>>Meanwhile Grandmother was in her house (behind
>>the jewelery shop) and she happened to see the
>>first wave and ran into the house an woke up
>>Roshan's other auntie and sister. Just at that
>>moment the second wave came and all three were up
>>in the rafters. The house collasped and sister
>>went to the right - through the neighbors house
>>and auntie went down the lane and into a hotel.
>>Grandmother was crushed by the beam.
>>Raju who works at the restruant was swept out
>>between the houses into the jungle and managed to
>>ride the wave back towards the sea and grab the
>>sister and hold onto a tree. Another person
>>managed to get the auntie out but she was not
>>breathing. Fortunately they managed to revive
>>her - just - .
>>Since then I have heard so many of the same
>>stories. Another person I know was at the end of
>>the lane holding his dead daughter (7 years old)
>>and his mother laying at his feet. He was
>>sobbing and I didn't want to disturbe him and
>>have not seen him since. A family that live down
>>the road from us was on that train that got
>>sucked into the ocean - no one has seen any of
>>the family since. It is weird to walk by their
>>house - no one in sight.
>>Jean and I were just talking about what else we
>>can do. Some people from Colombo just stopped by
>>to give us a care packet, which was very nice, as
>>we are almost out of food and there is none to be
>>found - at any price! They also asked up to
>>distribute some antibiotics - huge bottles fulls
>>- which we will do tomorrow.
>>We both feel fortunate and grieve for so many. I
>>am trying to mobiles funds so that we can help
>>Roshan and his family to rebuild the restruant
>>and house since they have no savings or
>>insurance. Roshan will continue to work for me
>>as my property manager and his Uncle
>>(grandmother's son) will continue to keep the
>>garden.... of course after they can pull
>>themselves together and help the remaining family
>>members mend.
>>Well that is about it for now. Do keep in touch.
>> I am planning to stick around and help do what I
>>can do here in Talpe/Unawatuna or in Galle town.
>>Bye for now,


At 8:29 AM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

I am speechless after reading your blog. How can one even mutter the words "happy new year" in light of the tragedy. One Indonesian person I read about said something to the effect of "we don't blame GOD - He is good. Perhaps he is angry at the state of the world and telling us so."


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