CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Northeast Ohio family is back home in Cleveland after surviving the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake that’s killed more than 5,000 people in Nepal and injured over 10,000.
Wednesday afternoon Ron and Stacy Fowler arrived at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport with their 6-year-old daughter, Millie, and were greeted by tearful family members whose hugs were just a little longer and stronger than normal.
The Fowlers have been traveling to Nepal for years and love the country and people so much; they even started a “fair trade” business in Kathmandu.
Saturday Ron was conducting business in the ancient city, which is about 97 miles from the quake’s epicenter, when the earth began to shake.
He says as he stepped outside, buildings began collapsing across the city just feet from where he was standing.
“This brick wall came down on a guy standing on the sidewalk,” said Ron. "Once the dust cloud settled, we pulled the bricks out, and we came to conclusion that there was no way anyone could survive that.”
Meanwhile his wife and little girl were about an hour east at their home away from home in Bhaktapur. Stacy was brushing her teeth getting ready to go to the local market when she felt the severe rumbling.
“I felt like my head was going to explode,” said Stacy. “Millie kept saying mom are we gonna live, are we gonna live, I said of course we’re gonna live.”
They did survive and were reunited a few hours later.
In the days that followed, they say they watched as fresh food ran low and clean water became scarce.
Tent cities began popping up and everyone was searching for loved ones and trying to salvage what they could.
The Fowlers donated thousands of water purification tablets and decided to do something else.
Ron is a professional clown named “Flower,” who happens to get many of his costumes in Nepal.
“I started making them balloons and tried to pick up their spirits, tried do something at least for the kids in the tent cities,” said Ron.
The Fowlers say the Nepali people desperately need sanitation and medical supplies. But they don’t recommend sending cash and are encouraging people to donate through a reputable, charitable organization.
The Fowlers are also in the process of changing their business so that proceeds will go directly to the Nepali people. For more information, click here.
For more on the Fowlers, click here.