Tsunami: 'Start running. Just start running'

Tsunami: 'Start running. Just start running' »Play Video
Carol and Jack Batchelor

EUGENE, Ore. -- The shaking started after Carol Batchelor set down her Bible, the page turned to First Chronicles.

And when the shaking ceased, the race for survival began.

"Carol, come here you have got to see this," Jack Batchelor called to his wife early Tuesday morning after the shaking stopped.

"I went outside and looked at the ocean," Carol Batchelor wrote, "and it was GONE! Where the reef was it looked like the edge of the earth. It just dropped off. Jack said 'RUN, Carol.' "

The Batchelors moved to Samoa in January, far from their home in Cottage Grove and their native Springfield, to run the Lupe Sina Beach Resort.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's tsunami, the Batchelors faced a new reality:

They were alive.

The resort was destroyed.

And 80 percent of their employees were dead, swept out to sea by the powerful tsunami.

"She said I'll never forget the sound of the water, and the trees, and watching the people being swept out to sea," said Henrietta Revell (at right), Carol's sister who lives in Eugene.

The fight for survival started as Carol finished a morning Bible study.

"She put her book down and the room immediately started to roll," Revell said, "and Jack said, 'Carol, you better put your running shoes on.' "

Carol was still tying her shoes when her husband told her to look out the window: the water was gone.

But not for long.

"She saw a wall of water coming," Revell said, "and Jack turned to her and said, 'Start running. Just start running."

Carol ran as fast as she could up a hill.

Jack did not.

Instead, he ran to the nearby home of his best friend Kenny, alerted him of the tsunami, and grabbed Kenny's two babies.

"When he got to Kenny's house, the waves were already coming," Carol wrote in an e-mail. "The first wave hit him waist high, the second wave was at least 20 feet tall. But when the third wave hit, it forced him under water and rolled him.

"At that point," she wrote, "he lost grip of one of the babies."

The tsunami knocked Jack against the hillside, where he got caught in a tree.

"And he saw a rock ledge," Carol wrote, "and he tossed the one baby he had onto the rock ledge.

"The baby and Kenny's wife survived," Carole wrote, "but Kenny and the rest of his family was washed to the sea and died.

"If you watch the pictures on TV you would think it was just a muddy field," Carol wrote, "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 ..."

"These were gracious people," Revell said, "people that Carol and Jack loved." 

The U.S. Embassy picked up the Batchelors and took them to a city to get some sleep and go to the hospital.

"We lost everything but the clothes on our back," Carol wrote.

Everything -- except their faith.

Revell said the Batchelor's will stay in Samoa. Now the couple, who felt God opened doors for them to come to Samoa in the first place, now feel they are there with a new purpose.

"They will rebuild on a much smaller scale," Revell predicted, "but they really want to initially just focus on building up and helping the villages get back."