As the water rushed out of the bay, I scrambled onto the main road. Screams were coming from the houses beyond the road, many of which were still half full of water that had trapped the inhabitants inside. Villagers were walking, stunned, along the road, unable to comprehend what had taken place.
I was worried about my wife, who was on the beach when I went for my swim. I eventually found her walking along the road, dazed but happy to be alive. She had been trying to wade back to our island when the water carried her across the road and into someone's back yard. At one point she was underwater, struggling for breath. She finally grabbed onto a rope and climbed into a tree, escaping the waters that raged beneath her.
A woman grieves over the loss of her house on the coast near Colombo, Sri Lanka, after it was struck by a tsunami from an earthquake in Indonesia.
(Eranga Jayawardena -- AP)
Our children were still asleep when the tsunami struck at 9:15. They woke up to find the bay practically drained of water and their parents walking back across the narrow channel to safety.
The waves raged around the island for the rest of the day, alternately rising and receding.
It took us many hours to realize the scale of the disaster, because we could see only the tiny part in front of us. The road from Weligama to Galle was cut in many places. The coastal road was littered with carcasses of boats, dogs and even a few dead sharks. Helicopters flew overhead and loudspeaker vans warned residents to leave low-lying areas for fear of more tsunamis.
My brothers' little island, called Tapbrobane after the ancient name of Sri Lanka, was largely intact, although a piece of our gate ended up on the seashore half a mile away. The water rose about 20 feet toward the house.
We have no water and no electricity and are cut off from the rest of Sri Lanka. It is impossible to buy food. We are existing on cold ham and turkey sandwiches, leftovers from Christmas dinner.
The holiday that we planned and dreamed about for many months is in ruins. We feel fortunate -- fortunate to be alive.