Dear Bob Schmitt,
Thank you for your kind e-mail.
Our family and staff, all 23 of us, escaped with only cuts and bruises. We were very lucky as many of our neighbors and friends around the island lost loved ones and still have missing family members.
I was in the USA for Christmas and first heard about the disaster from my nephew who picked it up on the Internet and called me at my brotherís home.
I was unable to reach anyone in Phuket by phone. Thai Airways helped to expedite my return and I arrived back home on 30/12/04 at 0800 hours.
The island damage was mostly on the west coast side.
Our home, Kamala Beach and Patong Beach south of us, were hit the hardest on the island.
Everyone here has really helped one another with the recovery. The Thai government mobilized Royal Thai Marine Corps, Navy, Army, and Air Force units to help with rescue, med evacs, aid stations, clean up, etc. They have done a fantastic job!
The big immediate concern is preventing spread of disease and providing medical help and housing to the survivors. Again, thousand ofThais and foreigners have come to the help of all the affected areas.
We lost everything on the ground floor of our shop houses, maintenance garage and parts department. Our rental cars fleet has lost 13 vehicles that we know of and we are missing 10 more that are unaccounted for. Our second and third floors are ok - no damage.
We have insurance and hope that the insurance companies will be able to cover some of the damage. Most of the people here have no insurance, so they only thing they have left are the clothes on their back.
Electricity is back on, but water and sanitation services are not working. Drinking water and food are available from local Thai people, Thai and international relief help teams, so nobody is going hungry.
Most of the tourists have left now, so thousands of businesses here are closed forever, as there is nothing left, except shell buildings. There will be no business here for at least another year.
The support and kindness shown by all our family, friends, customers - here and abroad - will never be forgotten by us.
On behave of all of us in Thailand - Thank you, God bless, and Semper Fi.
Mike and the Via Rent-a-Car family