KHAO LAK, Thailand – As the rebuilding begins, despair gets deeper for thousands of families around the globe who fear loved ones were lost in the South Asia tsunami (search).
There are so many names listed as missing. There's the former roommate of a co-worker who is presumed dead; her boyfriend is in Thailand (search) searching for her remains.
Then there's the uncle and the cousin of Dianna Trumm. I met them at an Internet cafe as they search for the 26-year-old, taken by the tsunami in Khao Lak (search).
Dianna’s relatives are from Monterrey, Mexico, and their family — which stretches from North America to Germany — is counting on them to find closure. Their task is a gruesome and sad calling.
For those who survived, jobs are hard to come by. Many fields along the coastline have been destroyed. Ships have been reduced to piles of lumber, spread over miles of low-lying land.
Tourist shops and shanty restaurants that sat on higher ground and were fortunate to survive the waters now sit empty. Visitors that once came by the thousands from around the globe are nowhere to be found so workers now resort to scrapping.
You can see the small Toyota and Mazda pickups piled up like a scene from "The Grapes of Wrath." Metal sticks out precariously in every direction. Young men and women sit high on top hoping to hold the metal down.
In the fields littered with debris, Thais climb and pick through anything that can be recycled. They dig for long metal rods, grimace as they try and free an old stove, or hood from a car now buried in dried mud and sand.
At the Thai naval base here in Khao Lak, a frigate now calls the beach home; its bow the only part that touches the teal blue Andaman Sea waters.
The village that once neighbored the base is largely left in ruins. But look up and you will see a majestic sun setting over an island just off shore.
That's the way it seems — in the foreground devastation but in the distance, remarkable beauty.