from Rowdy.</font id="blue"> Thank you.
Hello everyone. I must apologize for not writing sooner, but things are still a bit hectic here. At this point I have 310 in my "in" box, 191 in my "sent", and these are all fairly new and mostly related to the disaster, and this is after deleting as much as I can as I work along. I must confess that some of the "in" box are from people asking for information the 2nd time, after I said that I would get back quickly, and for those I'm sorry. My laptop HD is dying - you have to tap the damn machine many times to get it to boot up, and it had my best address book, so I have been trying to transfer things to the PC. One nice thing is that people I had not heard from in years have suddenly re-appeared with new addresses.
One of the problems I have in trying to write a letter like this is that some of the recipients know the area well, may have lived hear for a year or so, and are curious about "their" favorite restaurant, and what happened to friends and boats. Other of you had not heard of Phuket until CNN started babbling on about it, and the only thing you know is that the spelling could have an interesting pronunciation!
For the 2nd bunch, let me give a bit of background. For the first, skim this, and know that when I am writing about things that *you* know about, that they will be mystified.
O K, to start with, Phuket is an island abut 30 miles long (basicly north south) and about 12 miles wide. The central spine is about 1500 feet high. It is attached to the mainland by two bridges, an old and a new, at the north tip. The old was closed, and I don't know if it is open or not. The airport can take a 747 in a pinch, though customs and immigration procedures go into a state of complete collapse. Most of the tourist development has taken place on the west coast of Phuket island (which is the name of the province also).
The two adjoining provinces are Phang Nga, to the north, and Krabi to the East. Both of these have seen major tourist development in the last 5 to 10 years. When CNN is talking about Phuket, they are talking about the whole area normally. Khao Lak is the coastal area on the west coast of Phang Nga about 50 miles north of Phuket, and the area where the heaviest damage and loss of life has taken place. Krabi has Phi Phi island, which was a major tourist site and looks like a bomb has hit it (a BIG bomb). The island is joined by a narrow low ismus between two very high areas, and the wave came into both the north and south bays and met at the center. At one point they were talking about 400 bodies being brought to Phuket , but there would have been many more casualties. Lots of people have been washed out to sea.
North of Phi Phi is the Relai beach area, which is where the photo from the NYTimes of "the Swedish Heroine" was taken. She is running toward the wave, and I am sure toward her child. Unblieveable as it seems, all the people in the photo survived. I will send the photo separately, as some people cannot download big stuff (and some people can't get BCCs, which is another thing that makes this letter hard) .
I will also send some unpublished photos from Pat (sy Beaujeu) of Patong the day after the wave, and some shots of the damage in Lankawi (which is 100 miles south in Malaysia) That is where most of the boat damage took place.
Going back to geography, and casualty figures, area east and south of Phi Phi is Ko Lanta, which has many new beach side resorts. I am not sure what happened, but it must have been pretty bad. Ko Racha Yai, just south of Phuket, was also pretty well wiped out.
Now, when I say that, you must remember that all of this damage and loss of life took place within 50 to 500 yards of the beach. In Phuket town you would not have known that anything happened. The garbage trucks are still collecting garbage, the buses run, the restaurants are open, life is perfectly normal. In my first letter I mentioned the luxury Boat House Resort where the water came though the hotel with about a 4 feet high wave, left a bunch of trash on the street, but the restaurants on the other side of the street were untouched (being slightly on a hill) and doing business as usual.
On Phuket island proper, all of the west coast suffered extensive damage, but (once again) if you were back from the beach nothing happened. I am reminded of the old story about the little boy who was taken to the hospital with a sore throat, and the doctor said, "you have a mild infection, I will give you some pills and you should be fine in two days. You are a lucky little boy, in the next room is a little boy with toncillitus who will have to stay in the hospital and have his tonsils out tomorrow". As they were driving home his father asked if he had learned anything at the hospital. He thought for a moment and said "it is very important to be in the right room".
The east coast got a rise, but not really a wave. I was told that there were some longtails (boats, if you don't know) up in the trees where the road passes the klong at the head of Ao Chalong Bay. Gordon's 20 foot boat ended up in a restaurant, but was the only casualty in Chalong. Kan Eng 1 & 2 had water in their parking lots, but Par Lai restaurant was apparently badly damaged and is being rebuilt. The shape of the bottom seems to have been a big factor in how big the wave was, and how steep. None of the 100 boats at Nai Harn were damaged, though the restaurants on the shore were destroyed. Ao Sane Restaurant disappeared, but the yacht community pitched in and rebuilt it. I heard there were two architects on boats in the bay who drew up plans, but by they time they brought them ashore, the building was already up! They had had the 200 people at the Christmas party just before the wave, and the cash box was still in the restarunt. Ouch--insult to injury.
The most heavily damaged areas were Patong and Kamala. I guess the shape of the bays, and bottom gave a really big wave. Much of the damage in Patong has been hauled away, and rebuilding is proceeding quickly. Kamala is going much more slowly. I saw Harry Usher at Robinsons and he said their house on the beach was totally gone, computer and back up gone, office and office computers gone, but they were fine and the new truck was ok. He had managed to get to the boat and went to sea, and stayed out till the next day.
There are stories so sad that it makes you want to cry, like the one of the couple with the infant baby who were walking on Patong beach and hit by the wave. He managed to hold onto the baby through the whole wave, but then found that he just had a bag of clothes. The baby was not found. Damian was washed into the basement parking lot in the Patong shopping mall with a badly injured arm and swam for 5 hours with 1 foot clearance to the ceiling, among the bodies, unable to get out. They finally got the survivors out. And then there was the Brit flag French skippered large catamaran in the Similian islands that people were concerned about, who didn't even know that anything had happened for 4 days! I guess if you want to get away from it all , sailing is a way to do it...
The heaviest loss of life has taken place 50 miles north of Phuket at Khao Lak. That area still has many many bodies and many many missing. The Thai/tourist casualty ratio seems to be about 50 50. Except for relief work, people are advised to avoid the area.
The latest casualty report I have seen is 31 December
6 provinces 4510 dead, 9849 injured, 6475 missing
Phang Nga 3689 1272 2123
Krabi 367 2649 1913
I realize that the numbers don't add up. Obviously, most of the missing are dead and will never be found. the dead are the recovered bodies.
Now, looking on the brighter side. The local and national government seem to have done an excellent job. Some things didn't work as well as they might have, of course. but all in all, very well done. When I went to the government hospital to give some clothes and volunteer to help with communications, I decided that they really didn't need me. They had big tables set up with translators under signs, banks of computers for email, phone lines set up, evac flights to Bangkok and on to wherever home was. The foreign embassys had representives down here promptly, though I must say, the US embassy was conspicous by its absence. When they finally got a woman here, some friends of mine tried to register (they had incorrectly been on a missing list) and she said "well, what do you want to do?" When they repeated "register", she tore a sheet from a steno pad and gave it to them. My god, the *Mexicans* were set up with their laptop on line! Also, 5 days after the tsunami, the embassy put out a warning about traveling to southern Thailand. They obviously don't have a clue about the situation. The warning was totally unnecessary, but I suppose that there is a feeling that "well, we had better do something". A major effort is being made to build the number of tourists back up, and that certainly doesn't help. As I said, very much of the area is just fine. An interesting site has been written up with news about the various hotels and beaches http://www.image-asia.com/
Most of the yacht damage took place in Langkawi (Malaysia 100 miles south), as I said. Two marinas were totally destroyed with major damage to the boats in them. A few individual comments:
Beryl (Don Rider's widow) is fine, but would like to sell the boat and move to Phuket.
Michelle, (sy Simpatico) is OK, missing daughter found, but house, computer, and boat all gone.
Tri Odyssey upside down.
Hans Tumblehome on beach at ranger station at Terratao, 10 cm hole in boat (that should baffle you americans) but well above high water line. Rumor that he wanted to sell it, but maybe just having a bad hair day.
The best site for boat news is http://www.cruiserlog.com
A great deal of information has been posted there. Richard has been doing an outstanding job of trying to compile information and answer the hundreds of requests.
OK, Pitch time. My friend Jill on Saipan asked early on about how to send donations without the administrative costs taking a large chunk of the donation. Jim on "Beaujeu" suggested the Phuket Womens Club, but they are strictly education, and the Rotary was suggested. My good friend of 20 years, Neil Cumming, is immediate past president of the Patong Rotary, and said that they could certainly put the money to good use. He is a Scot, so I can guarantee that it will not be wasted! The problem with sending a check here is two weeks in the mail, six weeks for the bank to clear, and probably 15% charges by the bank. I came up with the idea of my old friend Dale Flowers in Denver, a very active Rotarian, and after finding all the people who had to approve things who were on holiday, it is finally set up. A check can be sent to Dale Flowers, it will go in the bank in Denver and clear within a couple of days, and the money can be wired to the Patong Rotary Club here in bulk. Since it is a US charitable org, the donations are Tax Deductible. Many businesses will double or triple donations, especially for this purpose, so check with who you get your paycheck from. If you would rather do it direct, the bank account will be listed below, but check the tax deductablity is ok if it is important.
The nice thing about using the local Rotary, is they know the area, and what is needed and how best to handle the problems. It won't be a situation of "it's raining in Sri Lanka, they must need raincoats". It won't rain here till May! They already do a lot of school work, so this will continue and they will try to improve rather than just replace. They have had an orphanage already set up, but it will sadly be much busier now. The National government is prepared to make grants to people who have lost everything, but only if they stay on their property. Makes sense, because the entire country would be making a claim, but it is very hard to stay on your property if it is only a concrete slab. They are trying to get the basics of survival to people - even if only a clay pot barbecue and beach umbrella - for the moment.
The money will not be restricted to Phuket, but sent to where ever in the area it is needed most. I realize that the devastation in Sumatra or the Andamans may be greater than here, but there is really no infrastructure to handle donations in those areas - it is probably best left to the governments involved. I doubt that even the Red Cross , and Medicins sans Frontiers type organizations can do much there.
Wow I haven't written so much since term paper days. I will run spell check (that will take an hour) and tack on the information about where to send donations. This is a worthy one folks, the Thais have been doing a great job themselves, but I really think that this can help people who are falling through the cracks.
Anybody who wants more information about anything (my, don't I sound smart) feel free to write, and if I don't answer, write again.
All the best for 2005
C. R. (Rowdy) Taliaferro
Good to talk with you last nite. Just talked with Littleton Rotary Foundation president and he says go ahead so have folks make checks out to Littleton Rotary Foundation at my address. I will take it from there.
C. Dale Flowers
Flowers & Associates, Inc.
7255 S. Sundown Circle
Littleton, CO 80120-4284
Can you send a letter to Dale asking for funds? They are keen to help. Something along the lines of the donations page on phuket.com below and at http://phuket.com/donations.htm
The Rotary Club of Patong Beach, Phuket's only English speaking Rotary Club, was immediately on the ground, actively helping with disaster relief. Initial emergency needs were funded from existing funds, topped up with members' and friends' donations. Hundreds of local people, in Phuket and Khao Lak have already been helped to overcome the initial effects. However, much more needs to be done on a longer term basis for families and children affected by the floods. The club is actively seeking funds to help rebuild homes and schools in those small villages and communities that were devastated. All funds will be applied directly to re-construction efforts, contracted for and supervised by Rotary members with appropriate expertise. All contributions will be acknowledged with appropriate credit given on each project.
Details of Rotary account are as follows:
Rotary Club of Patong Beach:
Bangkok Bank, Patong branch, Phuket.
Account name: Rotary Club of Patong Beach;
Account number: 563-0-316460;
Swift code: BKKBTHBK.
Pleas Fax us your Payment Slip for acknowledgement with name and contact details: +66 76 222196 (Ref: Tsunami Relief) or E-mail our Club's Treasurer, email@example.com
Many thanks Sam,
Yours in Rotary,
----- Original Message ----- From: "C. R. Taliaferro"
To: "Neil Cumming - Asia Web Direct" ; "C. Dale Flowers"
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 12:49 AM
Subject: [Fwd: Re: donations]
here is the letter from Dale requesting an "official" request. The 501 (3c) is exactly what we want for the doners so please take care of this. A shame that we are 12 hours out of sync! Dale, thanks so much for the efforts on your end.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: donations
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2005 06:03:52 -0700
From: Mr. C. Dale Flowers
Sorry for the delay but the whole world around here is out of town through yesterday. Will finalize things this morning I believe but still need email from the Patong Beach Rotary Club "officially" requesting funds to be transferred to their account. Would be best if it came from the current president whose name could be cross referenced in the Rotary International officials list. Think we can do this with the Littleton Rotary Foundation which is a 501(3 c which means that contributions are deductible. Checks could be sent directly to me and I'll shepherd them through the process and get the money transferred to the Patong Beach Club just as soon as I get the confirmation email.
Can't accept any email till I give you the go ahead later today.