Barb Anderson's 24-year-old daughter flew to Thailand on Christmas Day for a holiday -- the day before the deadly tsunami waves struck.
Anderson, Lake Shore, did not hear from her daughter, Emily, until an e-mail arrived Monday saying she was safe. She wrote that she was OK, asked family not to worry and said she'd e-mail again. Now they continue to wait to hear additional updates.
Teaching English in South Korea, Emily traveled to Thailand with friends for her second trip to the country. She was along the Gulf of Thailand. Anderson said the area was not among the hardest hit parts of the country. But Emily had yet to hear from some of her friends who traveled to other parts of Thailand.
Since the tragedy, Anderson said she was amazed by the response of strangers as word seemed to travel that her daughters spent winters in Thailand. Anderson's daughter Amy, 29, has been to the country four times and spent several months there last year. She had planned to go again this winter.
"Now she won't be going," Anderson said.
The affordability of travel to Thailand attracted her daughters, Anderson said. They typically stay in a beach hut, backpack and spend time in area villages.
"I'm just overwhelmed by the kindness of everybody," Anderson said. "People have called -- people I have never heard of. Everybody knows the girls like to spend their winters in Thailand and word gets out. It's just overwhelming the love and caring people have in this area for people they don't even know. This is quite a community."
Kelsey Berent, the 31-year-old scuba diving instructor from Nisswa, sent her mother, Mary Sample-Andersen, an updated e-mail. She said people are going on with daily life, rebuilding and digging out.
Berent was traveling in Thailand and teaching diving to tourists in the Phi Phi Islands. She was on the beach when the tsunamis hit. She ran for her life and found safety with others in the hills.
Berent teaches at the Minnesota School of Diving in Brainerd and is a member of the Crow Wing County Dive Team.
"I have spent two days looking for bodies on Phi Phi and one day helping a couple of the places here clean up," she wrote. "I think I will make it to one of the gypsy camps that lost everything and help build homes. The gypsy people are the ones that run the longtail boats (water taxis) around the islands."
Berent said the island she was on was lucky with deaths fewer than 100 people. The closeness to the mainland meant supplies were readily available. Berent said many people have been leaving the island and she was worried about others who gain their livelihoods from tourists.
"This is really sad because I know the news is saying that all of Thailand had been devastated," Berent said. "These people really live for tourism dollars and this could really kill tourism. The reef is still in decent shape so diving, when we get the clear, will resume for customers. I know they do not want to have divers finding bodies."
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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