Jack and Carol Batchelor grew up in Springfield and lived to Cottage Grove before moving to Samoa to run an island resort. They shared their tsunami story in their own words by e-mail this week:
Thanks be to God Almighty and His precious son Jesus, we are alive and well.
Yesterday morning (Tuesday) I woke up and read the Bible. It was 1st Chronicles where David is praising God and I thought what a lovely prayer. I laid the Bible down, and the bed began to shake.
Jack and I went outside as the earthquake continued. It seemed to go on for several minutes. It wasn't the rolling type of earth wake , but rather a steady shake. In fact, the pop bottle by our bed didn't even tip over.
Jack said, I think we need to watch the ocean in case there is a tsunami. He said, "Just in case, go put your running shoes on."
I went back into the fale and Jack went to the bathroom. Then I heard him yell, "Carol, come here you have got to see this." I went out side and looked at the ocean and it was GONE! Where the reef was it looked like the edge of the earth. It just dropped off. Jack said "RUN Carol."
I started to run and Jack said "I am going to go get Kenny", our next door neighbor and best friend. I told him not to go, but you know Jack. I started running up the hill.
I passed a couple of our employees and they said get in our car and drive to higher ground. I said "Is our hill not high enough?" They said "no."
Just then I looked at the ocean and saw the first wave coming. I turned and ran as fast as I could up the hill. I glanced back and saw Buck and Jazmine following me, unfortunately, Amos ran into the resort, thinking that was his safe home, but he didn't survive.
When I got as high as I could run I turned around and saw Complete Destruction!!! I fell to my knees and prayed that Jack was still alive. And by a miracle of God he was.
Jack thought he had more time to help Kenny and his family get to high ground. When he got to Kenny's house the waves were already coming. Jack grabbed two of Kenny's babies and told Kenny to run. The first wave hit him waist high, the second wave was at least 20 feet tall.
Jack jumped with the wave, (what he learned to do from the Discovery channel). But when the third wave hit, it forced him under water and rolled him. One of Kenny's babies was ripped from his arms and lost to the sea. Jack held on to the other baby.
The ocean forced him to the hill and he became tangled in a tree underwater. He looked up and could see sky through the water and he tossed the baby onto the rocks. Jack told himself he was not going to die like this. He started fighting for his life and then the water receded, just as he was running out of air. Thank you God.
The baby and Kenny's wife survived, but Kenny and the rest of his family was washed to the sea and died. When Jack and I reunited we were in shock at the speed and devastation of the tsunami. Our entire resort was destroyed. All of the beach fales were washed completely to the sea.
You wouldn't know that there used to be a fale there before, because even the foundation were washed away. The huge rocks of the sea wall were tossed into the street like pebbles.
The resort, which is on a hill, was completely gutted. The concrete stage was ripped in half and washed away.
Although there is still a roof, the walls and all the furniture, equipment - everything was taken by the sea. Even the 6 hillside fales, which were about a 100 feet up the hill, were washed off their foundation and destroyed.
The surge was so great that all vegetation is gone. We have one fale left on the hill, that used to be Ana's house that is still in tack. Eighty percent of our employees are dead. Entire families, neighbors, buildings were washed completely away.
If you watch the pictures on TV you would think it was just a muddy field, if you didn't know that many families and homes use to be there - but are no more. The death toll will be great. We know of five large extended families in our village, where only one or two people survived. They lost their mothers, fathers, babies, grandparents, aunts, uncles....
They have not started to identify the number of families that were killed in this tragedy. Many of the survivors have aready started to congregate at our fale on the hill. One lady sat rocking her dead baby, in complete shock while others were badly cut and broken. We witnessed one woman being rescued from the sea and moments later they discovered a dead two year washed up on the beach. The US embassy came and picked Jack and I up and brought us into Apia to get some sleep and go to the hospital.
We lost everything except the clothes on our back. Our van was rolled and completely totaled. Jack was cut and bruised and he racked his knee really hard. My broken ribs from the day before were killing me, although it is amazing what both of us could do when you are in life and death situations. Jack didn't realize how badly he was hurt until he quit moving.
We got our medicine and will be fine. Both of us knew that God opened doors for us to go to Samoa, but it wasn't until yesterday that we realized his plans for us was not to be resort owners but rather to be here to help the loving people of Samoa.
Many God loving, saved souls went to be with Jesus yesterday and Jack and I were blessed to be able to survive and help offer food, shelter and water to the survivors. All of our belongings were lost.
Although we will rebuild, on a much smaller scale, and with fales in the hills only, it will take months, if not years to do so. The tourist industry on that side of the island is going to take a very long time to rebuild.
All resorts on the south side of the island are gone. Saleapaga, and Lalomonu were the hardest hit. We thank God for his blessing and protection and we ask for your continued prayers. We also ask for your financial support, if you feel lead to do so by the Holy Spirit. We have never asked for financial help before, but these are unusual time and the need is so great.
Since the resort is gone, we have no source of income and the cost to rebuild and help the survivors will be great. We have no phone, TV, radio or any means to communicate, so when we come to Apia I will try to keep you abreast of what is happening (contact information removed at request of family).
Please know that we are safe. We are here for a reason. Our lives have already changed immensely in the few months we have lived here and I believe it was all in preparation for what happened yesterday.
We love you and and thank you for your prayers. Please pray also for the surviving family members that they will be filled with peace and comfort.
Your frinds in Christ,
Jack and Carol Batchelor