Lennox family?s tsunami terror
By ALEX EASTON
SEVEN-year-old Shani Lewis ran off the beach of the Sri Lankan tourist village of Hikkaduwa as fast as her legs could carry her.
"Daddy! There's a huge big wave!" she shouted at her father Steve inside the beachside hut the Lennox Head family was holidaying in.
Steve looked up to see his daughter run through the door of the hut, pursued by an enormous body of water that flowed past the beach and into the hut, backed by giant waves and knew immediately what was happening.
"Sue," he said to his wife who was ill in the shack's bed. "It's a tsunami. Run!"
Steve and Sue grabbed Shani and their four-year-old son, Sam, and ran for their lives; not stopping until they reached a forest temple on high ground two-and-a-half kilometres away.
Steve and Sue only heard about what happened next later.
When it hit, the tsunami destroyed the village, just as it had done at other towns and villages in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand, Bangladesh, east Africa, Malaysia and Burma.
Authorities yesterday predicted the massive wave, sparked by a 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, had displaced about five million people amid predictions the death toll would top 100,000.
Steve Lewis said the tsunami reduced Hikkaduwa, the same village Byron Bay-based Greens MP Ian Cohen was in when the wave struck, to rubble.
"It was just beyond belief," he said.
"Cars were crushed like soft drink cans. There were boats on the road ? big fishing boats tossed around like toys in a kid's bathtub."
Steve said he had been shocked to learn the tsunami had struck in so many places.
"At first we thought it was just the beach where we were; the later we heard about Maldives and then we heard about Indonesia...it was freaky."
Steve and Sue had travelled to Sri Lanka planning to set up an orphanage for abandoned and orphaned children ? a program they now being accelerated after the tsunami disaster.
Sue said the couple still had to raise $10,000 to get finish the $45,000 Australian needed to build the orphanage, and a new fundraising push had been launched by the Ballina Christian Church.
But Steve said people should donate money to help tsunami victims in any country, through any charity.
"There's so many good organisations out there," he said.
"This is so needed. Don't let people give the excuse that it all goes to administration ? that's just an excuse people use not to give."