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  1. The Tsunami: Our Story – Rik Logtenberg
  2. Man swept to death by tsunami wave in Calif.
  3. December 26, 2004

I looked around at the carnage. People were wailing in pain and others were lying stunned while volunteers did their best to change bandages and patch people up. Across the other end of the building behind a glass office wall sat a tall man with red hair. But he was too far away to hear.

I was desperate to get to him, but there was no way to cross the room. I convinced myself it was Troy, but when he finally turned around it was not Troy at all. Yet my hopes were lifted and I felt sure I would find him soon. Volunteers were walking around with signs on them indicating the languages they spoke. An English woman named Judy came up to me and asked if she could help. I told her my story, and as I did, she started to cry.

From that moment Judy became my main source of emotional and practical support, and she looked after me and helped me enormously. Judy helped me get across to the phones, where I waited for about ten minutes before it was my turn. It was about 11 am in Krabi, which made it about 3 pm back in Melbourne.

I rang home and Mum told me they had not heard from Troy. At the time I had no idea how much they knew in Melbourne about the scale of the tsunami disaster and how much pressure they had been under, waiting for news. But I was not interested in talking about myself at that stage, my mind was totally focused on finding Troy. Because I was only able to speak on the phone for a short period of time, Judy gave Mum her mobile number and Mum rang Judy straight back to hear what had happened to me and how bad my injuries were. My other daughter Tracey rang us as soon as she heard. Tom was stunned.

He started shaking and had to pull over to the side of the road. I have never felt so powerless. Suddenly after a day of fun at the casino and a lovely lunch, there we were sitting in our car on the side of the road, hearing the news that our daughter and son-in-law may well have been washed away in a killer wave on their honeymoon. The next four hours were hell. All we knew was that they were not in their room, but they were on the island.

It occurred to me that perhaps Troy may have tried to call the Broadbridges so I put through a call to Wayne and Pam. Pam is one of the most positive people I have ever met, and despite not having heard from Troy, she was still full of hope. When I hung up the phone from the Broadbridges I slumped down into a chair and started my phone-side vigil, waiting for the call that I thought would never come. In times like this the hardest part is not the situation itself but the not knowing. We sat glued to the news, watching the footage as the tsunami began to get more and more exposure.

The first pictures we saw were from a resort in Thailand where the water literally flooded up out of the sea and filled the first floor of a hotel. I think anyone who saw that original footage will understand what I mean when I say it was like watching a movie rather than real life. As news started to filter through, we discovered there was a hotline to ring for relatives of people travelling over in Asia.

My son Tim was the first to get on the phone. We expected the message would simply say that it was too early for details and names to be made available and that we should ring back later. Instead the hotline contained the worst news imaginable. I am not an optimistic person at the best of times, but when I heard that news I felt in my heart of hearts that we had lost Troy and Trisha. It had now been over twenty-four hours since the wave had hit and we had heard nothing. I picked up the phone and before I heard anything, my heart jumped at the slight delay you get sometimes when a call is international.

The next words I heard were the most bittersweet to ever reach my ears. Has Troy contacted you yet? One part of me was trying to hide my elation, and the other was working up the courage to deliver the news which I knew would devastate my daughter. But before I did that I had one phone call to make. It was to the Broadbridges. I have no idea how they managed to keep their strength after hearing the news that Trisha was okay but Troy had not yet been found. I will never forget how strong and positive Pam and Wayne were when I told them the news.

They are incredible people. The news that Troy had not contacted home hit me hard. It had now been thirty-six hours since the wave hit and with every passing hour it became less and less likely Troy would be found. Judy went to look again around the hospital for him and found out there was a shuttle bus to the Maritime Hotel where most of the westerners were being taken.

That afternoon I was transferred by bus to the hotel and Judy came with me. I was told a representative from the Australian Embassy would be there to meet me. The Maritime Hotel was much calmer than the hospital. The function room was filled with westerners from all over the world trying to get home. Judy helped me walk in and placed me on a seat next to a British couple. In the next chair was a New Zealand man who offered me the money to fly home if I needed it.

Perhaps most incredibly, later that day I met a young girl who lived three doors down from my parents in Melbourne. Judy stayed with me for about an hour and helped me fill out a set of forms which had been issued by the Thai police. Within a couple of hours Judy had received a message back from Mum to say that she could not come out to meet me straightaway because she needed to get a passport — she had never been overseas before — so my sister Tracey would be coming instead.

Judy said she would pick Tracey up at the airport and bring her to meet me in the morning. While I settled in to wait for Tracey in the foyer of the Maritime Hotel, I met a young boy and his father who were on the chairs next to me. The father looked in total shock and could not speak. The little boy came over and sat next to me. I was looking down and I saw the water push Mum into the tree. At that moment his phone rang.

His dad was just shaking and could not do a thing. I have often thought of that little boy since. Looking at the dad, you could see the absolute pain he felt at losing his wife. And yet the son was behaving on the surface is if nothing had happened. It seems to be something kids can do. For the first time in two days, I found myself thinking about someone other than Troy.

That night, many buses came to take people away, while those of us who were waiting for others had to stay. At about 9 pm I realised everyone I had met that day had gone. I felt very alone. It was the second night since the tsunami and I had been sure this was the day I would find Troy. As the night dragged on, I started thinking that perhaps he was in a coma somewhere, still alive but unable to communicate.

I could not bring myself to believe that he was dead. That night I was overwhelmed by feelings of massive guilt. I became convinced that everyone back home would hate me. Before I knew it, my mind started playing a loop of thoughts. How could it happen now, when things were going so well? Why were we on the beach? What if we had lost our way or turned back? Why had the wave taken me and Troy so far apart? Was he lying somewhere unconscious? Was he thinking of me, desperate to contact me? Was he in pain? Was he still alive?

It was the onset of an emotional state of guilt and self-blame which would not leave me for months. In the function room a television tuned to CNN was playing footage of the tsunami and the devastation around the world. I could hardly watch it — I could not handle hearing how bad things were — but I glanced at the screen whenever I heard familiar landmarks being mentioned. She looked so afraid, but before I could even begin to feel sorry for her, I realised the girl on the television was me. I was being helped into the helicopter by the Canadian man.

I had dirt all over me and sand and twigs stuck in my hair. I wondered if I would ever look like me again. It was as if, even now, the story of what had happened was out of my control. What the wave had taken from my identity in a physical sense was much easier to deal with than what it had taken from my identity in a emotional way.

I hobbled back to the function room and started rocking in my chair, distressed and crying. All I could think of was getting hold of a phone, to hear a familiar voice again. I made my way slowly over to the information desk where a man named Stuart asked if he could help me. I tried a few other numbers I knew off by heart, hoping to get through to someone, but no one was answering. Everyone has gone, please help. A lady gave me a valium and helped me lie down, as I could not lie on the floor without assistance due to my injuries. I was sick with the thought that they may blame me for what had happened.

I had no idea what I was going to say to him. I felt responsible, and I knew how much Belly loved Troy. During the evening several people sent me text messages, telling me things would be okay and that everyone back home was hoping and praying we would find Troy. But even so, that night was full of pain. I could hardly breathe. Every hour or so, faxes would come through from the hospital with lists of patients who had been admitted, and the staff would pin them to a large board at the end of the foyer. But each time there was nothing.

I stayed awake most of the night, watching as new people came into the hotel, hoping Troy would be one of them. Now even my good eye was swollen and sore from crying and I could hardly stop shaking. I looked blankly at people as they entered, willing their hair to change colour or for them to be taller, trying to turn them into Troy. People had been leaving messages on his phone for me all night. The most urgent was from Jim Stynes. I had known Jim for over nine years through the Reach Foundation which Jim had co-founded to inspire, support and motivate young people.

Jim had also played football for Melbourne and was still involved with the club. Troy and I had become close friends with Jim and his wife, Sam, and their daughter Matisse was a flower girl at our wedding. I briefly told him what had happened. He asked me about my injuries and I told him I thought my face was scarred for life. Jim was very calm, as he tends to be in a crisis, and he told me that Reach would send Emeli over to help me. She had been a bridesmaid at my wedding and was one of my closest friends. I told Jim that my sister Tracey was already on the way over.

I was still in shock, I think, and my speech was confused. When Jim hung up I was totally worn out and devoid of emotion. It was as if I had shut down, emotionally and mentally. I noticed in a corner of the function room people were using a computer. I managed to hobble over there and saw they were online. I waited until the computer was free and sat down in the hope that perhaps Troy had somehow sent me an email. I opened Hotmail and typed in my password.

First I checked our joint email but there was nothing from Troy. I have made a disk of all the photos and sent it off to you. That email seemed to be from another life. I thought of sending a group email, but I had absolutely no idea what to say. In the end I did nothing. Next I tried my uni address, but again there was nothing. I wondered if I should warn her about the extent of my injuries, and to let her know that it was okay for her to come. I kept wondering if I was overdramatising this whole thing.

But she was determined not to stay behind. I still could not grasp how bad things were, and I thought that Troy would find it funny when he found me because I had created such a commotion. People were very kind to me. At about 9 am the trauma nurses came in to assess people. They saw the back of my leg and noticed it was infected. I had gone for two days without a bandage, and although some of my other wounds had been covered, many were open and weeping, and I had not yet had a full wash.

The cuts on my arms were full of pus, but the back of my leg was even worse. I was glad Tracey was the one arriving first. There is something very special in the bond between sisters. We are both strong women, but we can do or say anything to each other, because at the end of the day she will always be my sister and I love her. Even though we find it difficult at times to show each other how much we care, we would each be the first to stick up for the other in times of trouble.

The Thai nurses were almost at the point of holding me down to stick a tetanus needle into me, but I was fighting back. Had it gone on much longer someone would have gotten hurt, and it would not have been me. Despite my protests and the commotion around me, when Tracey came into the room with Judy, she walked straight past.

She did not even recognise me. She turned and looked at me, and the expression on her face said it all. There could be no happiness in these reunions. I knew Tracey was glad I was alive, but she was shocked at the extent of my injuries.

How Ning Nong the elephant saved life of little girl from the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand

And I felt wiped of all emotion. The last thing on my mind was feeling happy to see her. All I wanted was to find Troy. She had always taken control of things, and I was there for one reason only, and that was to find Troy. I knew Trisha would not want one second spent on her which could be spent looking for Troy.

By the time I had flown for ten hours and Judy had taken me to the hotel, I did not know what to expect. I knew Trisha would be fully focused on Troy and that all I could do was do my best to help her find him. This reunion was not about Trisha and me. When I finally reached the hotel I nearly walked straight past Trisha. Her face was so swollen, I hardly recognised her, but something made me look back. It was Trisha. Small and bruised. Her hair was still unwashed and had mud and small bits of debris all through it.

What do you say to someone whose husband is missing? So I just said nothing. As soon as Tracey arrived, it was straight down to business. Organised as ever, she had brought pictures of Troy from our wedding which she planned to use in her efforts to find him.

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Two men from the Australian Embassy came to meet Tracey and I, and they gave her a list of three hospitals in Bangkok which had a relationship with the embassy. They spoke to the nurses and explained that I would be going to Bangkok. In the meantime, Tracey got going on her search. Almost as soon as she had arrived she was gone. Before she left, she reached into her bag and pulled out her discman.

When she was gone I reached down into her bag and pulled out the picture of Troy. It was us together exchanging vows on our wedding day. He was smiling his big smile. I slid down in my chair, placed the earphones on my head and pressed play. I turned it up full blast, stared at the photo in my hands and bawled my eyes out. Tracey had also left a phone with me. I called Belly. The thought of going back to Melbourne without Troy was too much. I could not live without him, and if he had died, then I wished the wave had killed me too. How could I ever face his friends and family?

I needed to hear from Belly in person — not just a text message — that I had a reason to come home. He never did. In his wedding speech, Troy was going to tell Belly that he loved him but he chickened out, so I said it in my speech instead. I said that Troy and I both loved Belly and he would have been a bridesmaid if Troy had not asked him to be a groomsman. At about 1 pm the Canadian family who had helped me on the Viewpoint arrived to see how I was going.

They had been to Krabi to look for me and had heard that I would be here. When they walked in I was amazed they had gone to so much effort to find me. I realised then that helping me had had a big effect on them, and I was glad to have the opportunity to thank them. Tracey returned. There was still no news of Troy.

The embassy had arranged a minibus and a plane to Bangkok so I could transfer to a hospital where I could get my leg seen to. On the plane there was a Canadian girl seated opposite us whose head was half wrapped in a bloody bandage.


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She must have been hit pretty hard because the whole side of her face was swollen over and purple. She just sat there the whole way silently crying to herself. I felt I understood what she was going through. The real pain had nothing to do with the injuries. The real pain was the guilt of leaving someone behind.

When we arrived at Bangkok airport, Tracey took out her mobile and started scrolling down the message menu. She listened intently and then started to make calls. Is he okay? But the more she checked her messages, the more her body slumped. It had been a false alarm. Channel 7 had reported that Troy had been found alive, but that there was still no confirmation. Silvers my maiden name and once as T. When we reached the Bangkok Nursing Home, it was 8 pm and I was taken straight to intensive care. When I was wheeled into the operating theatre a weird thing happened.

Once again, I momentarily saw that this tragedy was much bigger than just my own pain. The operation was to remove the infection in my leg, as there was a real possibility I would lose my leg altogether. It was late at night when I went into the operating room — the last operation of the day — and very early in the morning when I came out. I was still half drugged from the operation and my leg hurt like hell. As I gradually came to, I realised I was busting to go to the toilet, but I could hardly move. I tried to wake Tracey by tapping my wedding ring on the railings of the hospital bed, but I was so weak I could not wake her.

When the nurse finally came, I was unable to raise myself onto a bedpan and so, just when I thought things could not possibly get worse, the nurse returned with a nappy. She lifted me up and tied it around my waist. I had lost the final control. Usually this would have made me extremely selfconscious, but after what I had been through, what did it matter?

I was so glad to see them both, but it was particularly good to have Emeli there. Emeli and I had met on a Reach camp at Santa Monica in Lorne about seven years before, and we had been through a lot together, including the death of both her mother and her father.

We spoke about it later and she said how unhealthy she thought it was for people not to express their feelings during funerals.

The Tsunami: Our Story – Rik Logtenberg

She mentioned how whenever you see a Middle Eastern funeral on television, the women howl and wail over the casket. To us it seems an overreaction, but as Emeli had known and I was now finding out, it is probably much healthier than the restraint and inner control many of us are taught to show in our society. When I first met her at Reach, her idea of being emotional and tactile was to touch someone on the shoulder. She was always so guarded, but there was this loyalty about her that I really liked. It was kind of like, once you were her friend she was with you no matter what.

So when I heard the news about the tsunami, all I could think was that I had to go over to be with her. I arrived in Bangkok on the morning of 29 December and went straight to the hospital where Trisha had just had her operation. When I walked into the room, I could not believe this was the same girl whose wedding I had been to two weeks earlier.

Her face was swollen to twice its normal size. Her left eye was purple and black and there was no gap between her nose and her cheek. For some reason I had not expected her to look so bad. The operation on her knee had also just been completed but the wound was still open. It was like someone had attacked her with an axe and split her leg to the bone. When I arrived, Trisha was still groggy and the nurses were unpacking the gauze which had filled her knee. I have never seen a person look so vulnerable.

Her swollen face looked up from a ridiculously clean white pillow, pleading with the nurses as they pulled away the gauze. Looking back, I think by then even Trisha knew the search was hopeless, but we contacted the embassy and started to make a list of places we should go to look. Tracey and I flew to Phuket to check through the hospitals and morgues. There were eight hospitals and we hoped to cover them in two days. The embassy had told us they were also searching, so we felt confident that, for better or worse, we would find Troy soon.

On arrival at Phuket airport, we were confronted with the strangest sight. The airport was packed and very hectic, but there was no real indication of where to go to look for survivors. The embassy had told us to look on noticeboards and poles where people often left information. As we got off the plane and walked through the gates, every pole in the airport area was plastered with the same poster.

As we drew closer we realised all of them were of Troy in his Melbourne jumper. The embassy must have downloaded his photo from the internet. Underneath were written four simple words and a phone number: Troy Broadbridge, Missing, Call [the number]. Eventually we managed to get in contact with embassy officials who told us point blank that every indication pointed to the fact that Troy was dead.

There did not seem to be even a shadow of doubt. The entire Thai relief program was run from here. Basically it was a kilometre of noticeboards and about two dozen tables set up with representatives from each country manning them. As we walked past the rows and rows of pictures, one thing became very clear to us. This event was bigger than anyone back home could possibly imagine. For the next two days we went from meeting to meeting and morgue to morgue. Most of the identification was done from photos.

After a while the faces seemed to blur into each other. Each time I turned a page another life clicked over, another family was sharing our pain, another child somewhere was without a parent. We went to the Hilton Hotel where the Australian Embassy had set up an information centre. The Phuket Hilton is a phenomenal hotel, and so out of place under the circumstances. We walked into the huge lobby which was full of trimmings and waterfalls and massive marble pillars, and followed the signs to the information centre. When we found the embassy staff, to our amazement we were the only ones there.

We were expecting it be packed full of people like us searching for friends and relatives. Not one other family! They also had a chaplain, a representative from the Australian Federal Police, and a counsellor. We were in there for about an hour asking questions, and they provided us with masses of information. All of it was bad. Searches through the beach area on Phi Phi Island where Troy and Trisha had been hit by the wave had yielded no survivors. The more the search parties dug, the greater the body count was growing.

But they had been through this before. Troy was dead, and even though there was no body to prove it, there was no use denying it any more.

Man swept to death by tsunami wave in Calif.

The news from Emeli was not unexpected, but for me it was the final blow. Until that moment I had been clinging to the thought that Troy might be unconscious in a hospital somewhere, but now I realised there were too many people out looking for him, all over Thailand. There was no hope of finding Troy alive. Meanwhile, my leg was starting to get worse again, despite a second operation, and I needed to get it seen to properly. It was time to go home.

December 26, 2004

It seemed every day another 10, people were added to the death toll. I was so caught up in my own grief, I had hardly taken the time to think how this was affecting the rest of the world. For everything I was feeling, there were a quarter of a million families going through the same pain. All over the world people were holding out hope for survivors, feeling as powerless and vulnerable as I was. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Wayne to fly over to Thailand still holding onto the faint hope that Troy might be alive. When Wayne arrived in Thailand, he spent days searching through morgues and talking to doctors and volunteers who may have treated Troy.

I suppose we were all holding onto that thin thread. As I understand it, at that stage most of the searching for bodies was done by looking through photographs or images on the internet. It was 3 January, the day we were due to fly out of Bangkok, when I heard the news. By this time Tracey and Emeli had already returned home and Mum and I were preparing to board our flight.

Mum checked her phone. There were thirty-one missed calls, mostly from Wayne. We knew the news was either very good or very bad. I dreaded what I almost certainly knew would be the message. We called Wayne back and when we finally managed to get through, I could hardly hold the phone up to my ear to listen. As soon as I heard the tone of his voice, I knew.

All I knew was that the love of my life was dead.


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  8. It was real. I felt my life was over, and I was filled with a mix of sadness and anger. Due to my injuries I was put into a wheelchair for transit, but it could not fit through the gates. On the plane I was placed in an aisle seat. Apart from my facial wounds and my bandaged leg, I was just another passenger flying from Singapore to Melbourne — at that point no one on board knew what had happened to me. As the flight was due to take off, a flight attendant came around with copies of the Herald Sun.

    I took one, thinking it might help to read about home, but when I saw the front page my heart froze. The entire page was filled with a picture of Troy and me from our wedding. I broke down and started sobbing, pleading with the hostess to take the papers away. I tried everything I could to keep it together. It was like my whole body was numb, but my brain kept turning things over and over.

    The thought of how Troy had actually died haunted me every second. Did he suffer?

    Was it quick? Each time I closed my eyes I saw images of his body rolling around in the water. I was overcome by guilt that I had survived. It was all so wrong. I must have looked such a mess. The passenger next to me kindly offered to move so that I could lie down and rest my leg. Throughout the flight I sobbed silently to myself. If I could have opened the door across the aisle and jumped out of that plane, I would have. My mood varied from absolute anger to total devastation. At other times I just wanted to end it all, to stop the constant questioning, guilt and emotional pain which haunted all my thoughts.

    Whenever I thought I would lose it completely, I started training myself to hold on a little longer. I knew he would say I was stronger than this. Troy was like that. All through his footy career he battled injury and disappointment and we worked through it together. Sometimes I was his strength, and now he was mine. As we were coming in to land, a young woman about my age who must have recognised me from the newspaper leant across the aisle and tapped me on the shoulder.

    I was wearing it when I survived a car accident. It means a lot to me but I want you to have it. It was the first of many gestures of kindness I was to receive in the months to come. That plane flight back to Melbourne was the longest seven hours of my life. Now I was returning alone. Massive footprints left pools of river water where she emerged from the pond that had slaked her thirst and provided her family an afternoon of muddy play. Gently flapping ears became still; the pads on her great feet sank deep into the earth.

    She lifted her trunk, stood as if transfixed. Dusk approached and banished a reluctant sun. From miles away, something was coming. John Davidson. Geronimo Stilton. Bindi Wildlife Adventures 2: Game Over! Bindi Irwin. Magic Toyshop: Treasure Island Trouble. Jessie Little. A Stallion Called Midnight. Victoria Eveleigh.

    Monkey Mountain: Extreme Adventures. Justin D'Ath. Aline Alexander Newman. Brian Skerry. Terror at the Lighthouse. Terence O'Grady. Finding Nemo Junior Novelization. Disney Book Group. Is This Panama? Jan Thornhill. Bindi Wildlife Adventures 4: Camouflage. Mb Nancy H. Murray : The Night the Elephants Cried - A Story of the Tsunami before purchasing it in order to gage whether or not it would be worth my time, and all praised The Night the Elephants Cried - A Story of the Tsunami: 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.

    The Night the Elephants Cried: A Story of the TsunamiBy Brian ThorntonThe subheading describes this fast-paced young adult novel as "A Story of the Tsunami," but it is even more a story of the healing bond that a motherless teen forms with Nonni, the elephant he cares for on holiday in Thailand. Through its characters, including friends the teen Jerry makes at an elephant camp and at a seaside hotel, the book unfolds colorful details of the land, its culture, and the rich traditions surrounding elephants.

    While author Nancy. Murray describes the chaos and power of the deadly tsunami that struck the country the day after Christmas , in this story it is not the horror but the powerful magic of love between the boy and the elephant that remains. Reviewed by Elle Thornton1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.

    It was interesting and emotional at the same time.