Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

Family’s survival spurs among tsunami’s mysteries

January 6, 2005

This past week many people added a new word to their vocabulary, tsunami. You might even have a visual of what the word means and some of its characteristics. I grew up in that part of the world recently hit by the headline-making word, and although I have heard the word before I have never experienced an actual tsunami.
I have been to some of the places now shown on television, so watching the videos were very chilling to me. Earthquakes are virtually nonexistent in Southeast Asia and no one there even remotely considered that something like this would happen.
To give you an idea how far away the thought of an earthquake hitting that region is with most people, let me recount how I first heard about it and my reaction.
It was Sunday night after Christmas and I was listening to an online radio station from Malaysia for background music while doing some work. I kept hearing people calling in to the station to tell of floors shaking and how they were running out of buildings because of some kind of quake they had felt. I was thinking the callers were recounting stories they have heard or their perceptions of what it would feel like to be in an earthquake. It was Monday morning in Malaysia at that time, a few hours after the island of Penang had been struck by tremors and an ensuing tidal wave.
It never once occurred to me that an earthquake or tremor had hit Malaysia.
Although my family doesn't live in that part of Malaysia, they did have a couple of close calls. Just a week before, my parents, my sister, my brother and their kids were vacationing on the part of Penang that was hit by the tsunami. My nephews and nieces still talk about how eerie it was knowing what a difference a week made. Also, on the day it happened, my dad was on the other side of the island on a business trip. He told me he felt a sudden drop of temperature in the air and a feeling of discomfort overcame him. At that point he was still oblivious to the horrible thing taking place a mere mile away.
When I think about how close I came to losing my entire family, I thank God that by His grace their lives were spared. I was also very touched by the phone calls I got from people I haven't talked to in ages inquiring about the well being of my family. It was very humbling for me to know that there were people who cared about my family, despite the fact we had not kept in touch.
Most of us will never be able to comprehend the pain and suffering encountered by the victims of the tsunami. The closest event that would invoke such a feeling would be the terrorist attack of Sept.11, 2001. That event brought together the nation and gave us a "face" to channel our grief and anger to -- the terrorist. Imagine how desolate these people must feel when they pick up their loved ones, including their children -- lifeless and dead but have nothing to blame or channel their anger toward.
I have heard stories of people going to the morgue and turning over the covers to see if a victim is their loved one. The agony and pain they must experience probably is more torturous than if they had found the ones they were seeking.
As the days passed, we learned how widespread the tragedy was. The wall of water hit 10 countries and claimed 170,000 victims and the count goes on. None of them have a focal point to bring the tragedy to a close. You can't get angry with Mother Nature, but she also provides the essential of life.
While most of us remember Sept. 11, we have for the most part a sense of closure because we know who the culprit is. How these people will ever achieve that sense of closure is beyond me. There is no explanation or reason why this happened, Mother Nature just chose not to be so motherly. That is just not going to be enough to soothe desolation in the hearts of the victims.
As efforts to provide relief continue, I want to share with you an effort that is being initiated right here in Eudora. Joe Reitz has come up with an initiative to send some money to the countries affected. He wanted to do something a little different than the usual sending of money to the various charitable organizations that are already actively providing help.
His idea is to adopt a village or city and send the money and other relief efforts from Eudora. It is like the "sister" city program but for a much better cause. We can directly touch and change lives of victims whose losses are beyond comprehension. While we try and identify a city or a village, we can start by bringing contributions to the Eudora News office. There will be more information made available, but I want to give everyone a "heads up" so you can be prepared to be a part of this worthy cause.

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