Video and photos: Wickliffe couple visiting Nepal when deadly earthquake hit

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WICKLIFFE, Ohio -- Days after a deadly earthquake hit Nepal, a Northeast Ohio couple who was staying there with friends is sharing video and photos of the disaster they witnessed.

So far, nearly 4,000 people are known dead in Nepal, India and China as a result of the earthquake that hit on Saturday.

"It's really, really bad," said Ron Fowler, of Wickliffe. "It's a really bad situation."

Ron, his wife, Stacy, and their six-year-old daughter, Millie, have been in Bhaktapur -- which is a suburb of the capital city of Kathmandu -- since February, visiting friends in their "home away from home."

Ron is a well-known professional clown in the Northeast Ohio area and owns Flower Entertainment . He designs and makes his own costumes and balloon bags and does business in Nepal.

He first visited Nepal several years ago, and now he and his family make almost yearly visits.

Ron said he was in the Kathmandu area to visit one of the factories he works with the day the earthquake hit.

"I was in a building at an ATM machine, thought it was a truck, then after the second little shock I knew it was an earthquake," said Ron. "I ran out and saw two buildings across the street from me collapse and one guy actually got crushed under one of the brick walls."

Ron tried to help dig the man out of the rubble. He recorded video of some of the chaos right after the earthquake hit.

During the earthquake, the rest of Ron's family was in Bhaktapur, which is about a half an hour bus ride. When he was able to reach them, he found that they, along with his Nepali family and friends, were all safe.

That night, there were 66 aftershocks.

Bhaktapur sustained heavy damage. Ron described the center of Bhaktapur as a "ghost town," where most of the buildings are uninhabitable. Most of the people who live there are camping in the outskirts.

"We've been camping outside under a tarp. The houses are too dangerous to stay in," he said. "We've got basically canopies up. Everyone is kind of cooking for everyone. Everyone is taking care of everyone for now. Luckily it's a farming community. We're camped out in a cabbage patch. I feel like a Cabbage Patch kid, but right now we're comfortable. We have water and we have food."

Ron said he's seen the Nepali military come through the area to help with rescue operations. Power came back on Monday, said Ron, and the markets opened so people could buy food and water.

"I'm traumatized; my daughter is scared to go into the house. We're just trying to survive, basically," said Ron. "We've been staying outside away from tall buildings."

On Monday, Ron used his clowning skills to lift the spirits of the town's children who were affected by the earthquake.

"We're just kind of doing a waiting game," he said.  "I was making balloon animals for the kids just to lighten their spirit a little bit, because everyone is just kind of in shock, and it's just kind of a depressive mood."

Ron, Stacy and their daughter are hoping to fly back to Cleveland Tuesday night. They want everyone to know they are OK.

"Yes, we are safe. Everyone is good here," said Ron. "I should be home soon and get back to a normal life, which I kind of miss right now."

He said they plan to come back to Nepal.

"This is not going to stop. I'm going to come back to Nepal," said Ron. "This is my family. I'll come back and hopefully -- they said it will take 10 years to repair everything. This is just home and it's just sad to see it all gone."