Tsunami: 'It was like a nuclear bomb had hit'

Tsunami: 'It was like a nuclear bomb had hit' »Play Video
Carol Batchelor and her husband, Jack, talked to KVAL News about the devastation of the Samoan tsunami they survived in September (Photo illustration).

EUGENE, Ore. - Carol and Jack Batchelor are counting their blessings from their family home in South Eugene.

"I'm very thankful for the Samoan families that I met, and my friends that I had the opportunity to meet before I lost them," said Jack.

Back in September, the couple was running a beachside resort in Samoa when tsunami waves surged over the island.

Carol calls her survival a miracle.

Hear her story in her own words

"There was like a 'V' where the water just went around me. And it was almost as though there were invisible hands that said 'not my daughter...' and I didn't realize at the time that God had just saved me because I was so worried about Jack," said Carol.

She and her husband got separated as he tried to save his best friend's two young children.

"When the wave got close enough, I just dove and tried to body surf with the babies," said Jack.

Hear his story in his own words

Jack was no match for the powerful waters. He lost one child, but made it to higher ground with the other.

"And I start climbing up the cliff with one arm, hanging on to the baby, and I was stuck. I'm about six feet away from air. I could see the blue sky and the waves were pounding me against the rock, and I'm running out of air," said Jack. "So I took the baby, and threw it as hard as I could towards to rocks."

In a matter of three minutes, Jack says the waves subsided, he found his wife, and the two were surrounded by devastation.

"It was like a nuclear bomb had hit and flattened everything. There was nothing," said Carol.

They managed to set up a make shift hospital.

"People were showing up with their babies that were passed away, or dead, and they were trying to nurse them back to life. People had terrible cuts on them, and I couldn't help them," said Jack.

With their resort in ruins and hundreds of friends and neighbors dead or wounded, the rebuilding effort began.

"That same day they already had trucks up there clearing the roads," Carol said, "and people that you know that had just lost entire families, they were still smiling and waving at you."

The family is going back to Samoa next week to rebuild, this time inland. Their new resort will feature treehouse accomodations.

"It's going to take a long time to recoup," Carol said, "but our hearts are in Samoa."

You can help the rebuilding efforts by donating to the Batchelor's Samoan Disaster Relief Fund at any Northwest Community Credit Union.