January 8, 2005: Headlines: COS - Thailand: CS - Bangladesh: Tsunami: Louisville Courier-Journal: Bangladesh RPCV Ned Berghausen in Thailand aids rescues

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Thailand: Special Report: 2004 - Tsunami hits Southeast Asia: January 8, 2005: Headlines: COS - Thailand: CS - Bangladesh: Tsunami: Louisville Courier-Journal: Bangladesh RPCV Ned Berghausen in Thailand aids rescues

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-43-253.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, January 10, 2005 - 1:16 pm: Edit Post

Bangladesh RPCV Ned Berghausen in Thailand aids rescues

Bangladesh RPCV Ned Berghausen in Thailand aids rescues

Bangladesh RPCV Ned Berghausen in Thailand aids rescues

Louisvillian in Thailand aids rescues

David Hawpe

Bob Hill

The blueprint for Ned Berghausen's life was set early: St. Xavier graduate; a 2001 graduate of Bellarmine University with a degree in philosophy and a minor in theology; joining the Peace Corps after a year studying overseas because "it appealed to me to give something back."

His Peace Corps assignment was in Bangladesh. Along the way he had written a 100-page paper on The Book of Job the Old Testament poem that discusses faith and the suffering of innocent people. Berghausen, 24, was vacationing on Ko Phi Phi Island in southern Thailand on Dec.26 when the tsunami hurtled ashore.

"I'm alive," he would write in an e-mail message to Louisville family. "I've seen unimaginable horror. ... I can't begin to tell you about it, but here's a try: Hundreds of dead people, utter devastation, rubble and ruin everywhere, people seriously injured, dying. Somehow I was unscathed. Not even touched.

"...I spent 48 endless hours pulling people out of the rubble and carrying them to helicopters. I saw heaven and hell incredible acts of heroism. Men and women stepping into the breach. ... We saved some lives out there, but my God you can't even imagine it, you just can't."

Fleeing danger

Berghausen spoke Thursday night by cell phone from Bangladesh. He said he had been staying in a first-floor room at the Banthai Guesthouse on Ko Phi Phi on Dec.26 when he heard noise in the street. He got up, got a bottle of water and went back to bed. Then he heard louder sounds; fleeing residents: "People later described it like running with the bulls in Spain."

He got up again and saw water coming down the street at him "like some kind of freakish high tide." He followed the fleeing people to a reggae bar where everyone crowded into a third-floor room. The water below was only a few feet deep; the backwash of the tidal wave that smashed ashore on the other side of the island; Berghausen was somehow in a "bubble" of safety. Back at his guesthouse "desks and refrigerators were thrown all over the place like some locomotive had gone through."

Wanting to help, Berghausen joined with a man named Erik Liungman, 36, of Sweden, who just took over as a leader. Amid rumors of another tsunami headed inshore, they formed rescue teams, pulling injured from the rubble.

Berghausen spoke with a man who told him: "`I saw my wife sucked out to sea; I saw her die before my eyes.'" What little sleep he got that night was near a seriously bleeding woman a hemophiliac who moaned all night. He went to the balcony, looked out at a full moon, desperately wanting sunlight so more help could come.

The helping hands at their makeshift hospital at the Cabana Hotel would be from England, Spain, Australia and South Africa. He worked alongside a man from Scotland who apparently lost his wife, a Canadian couple who had lost their children. Berghausen felt calm and directed under Liungman's leadership. After two days of rescuing others, a Thai helicopter took him to an airport so he could meet anxious family in Bangkok.

He is just now coming to grips with what he saw: "Despite all the tragedy I feel like I've really been privileged to have been in that place and done my part to help others. ... Right now it's too close. ... I don't know how it will change my life. ... I just know that it will."

Bob Hill's column runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You can reach him at (502) 582-4646 or e-mail him at bhill@courier-journal.com. You can also read his columns at www.courier-journal.com.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
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RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
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Story Source: Louisville Courier-Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Thailand; CS - Bangladesh; Tsunami



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