|Tsunami reaches Danville
RELEASED: Jan. 13, 2005
DANVILLE, KYIt looked like a perfect day at the Railey Bay Resort near Krabi, Thailand. Centre College bookstore manager Linda Minteer and her husband, Jim, were savoring the blue skies, sandy beaches and tropical warmth, a welcome change from the single-digit temperatures in Kentucky.
It was the day after Christmas. The Minteers stood on the beach taking pictures and enjoying the sunshine while they waited for a longboat to take them on a snorkeling expedition.
Only seconds before their boat was to arrive, Linda and Jim saw something on the horizon; they soon realized it was not a boat, but an enormous wave. As others began to notice, Thai locals frantically started getting swimmers out of the water and directing people to higher ground.
While Linda stood staring in disbelief, Jim continued taking pictures of what he described as a 24-foot wave as it approached. Linda heard people screaming,"Run!" and she ran.
"There was a fence along the path, and they just broke it down to get to the highest point," Linda says. "There was no warning. It happened so fast."
Linda made it safely to higher ground, before realizing Jim wasn't with her.
Fearing the worst, Linda ran back toward the wall of water to find her husband. Several long moments passed before they reunited.
"That was the scariest time," Linda says.
As it turned out, Jim had gone back for the snorkeling equipment and had been caught against a wall when the wave hit. He was fortunate and escaped with a few cuts and scrapes.
For the Minteers, that was just one in a series of fortunate events. Jim's cousin, Jane Thomas, who accompanied the Minteers, delayed their trip to sea 15 minutes because she wanted to purchase a mat. Jim had also wanted to visit Phuket that day. The Minteers were lucky their plans had changed. Phuket was one of the hardest hit locations in Thailand.
Linda recalls reaching the highest point on the island. "Several people had gotten separated," she says. "And it was neat so see the tears and reunions."
After spending the rest of the day camped out at the high point, the Minteers were finally given clearance to go back to their rooms. The hotel had lost its computer and the phones were out, so they couldn't call friends and family back in the United States to let them know they were safe or find out what had actually happened.
"We really had no idea [of the scope of the tragedy] until we got on the plane back to Bangkok later that week and saw a newspaper," says Linda. "The look on people's faces was of shock and disbelief. It scared the Thais bad. They hadn't had a major tsunami in 40 years. There was no way to warn people of this impending disaster."
The water surged 300 feet onto the shore, where the Minteers stayed, pummeling everything in its way. The next day, Thais and tourists surveyed the damage. Buildings and restaurants were destroyed, boats were tossed from the beach high into trees like toothpicks and debris was strewn all over the beach and surrounding areas.
Linda says it will take a while for the Thais to clean up and rebuild. Despite the scare, she says she'll return to Thailand to visitbut maybe not to that particular beach.
"Jim had wanted to go to Phuket that day," she says. "I don't think 'what if'I just thank God it wasn't any worse to us."
If you would like to put together one or more health kits, please enclose the following items, along with $1 for processing and shipping, in a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure and deliver to Dailey or Trina McFarland at the Student Life Office by Friday, Jan. 21. Or mail to Tsunami Relief; Centre College Student Life Office; 600 W. Walnut St.; Danville, KY 40422early enough that the kits will arrive before Jan. 21.
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