By Tori Sheets
Casey Welch, a local dental hygienist, arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal for a dental care trip three days before the earthquake claiming more than 8,000 lives and causing 17,000 injuries struck on April 25, 2015. She was trapped in the country for five days, and this April she's going back to complete her mission with the Global Dental Relief organization.
"I heard a huge crack and I thought it was thunder and lightning," Welch said. "I thought this is really weird, the sky is really blue, why is it thundering? Then everything just started rolling and moving, there was such an unnatural feel to everything. I was in the street and so scooters and motorcycles and cars just started flipping over. The ground just started literally to tear open like a sheet."
Welch was traveling to a clinic with her medical team of 12 when the earthquake hit. She said all she could do was curl up in a ball on the street and wait for the 7.8 magnitude earthquake to stop.
"It just seemed like forever then it finally stopped," she said. "Then afterwards there were lots of tremors and things just started falling."
The group's guide and translator was a man named Karma. Welch said Karma stayed calm and in control after the earthquake and explained to the group there could be more quakes to follow so they needed to get out of the city.
"It's filthy, congested and overcrowded on a good day," Welch said. "So we literally went single file, followed behind him and just started winding our way until we could get through the places where buildings were in rubble and streets were closed. It did look like a war zone."
The team eventually reached a monastery on the outskirts of Katmandu and slept outside in case of more earthquakes. Welch said she woke up every morning surrounded by monks in prayer.
"It was very reassuring to be around them because they are so calm and they're so accepting," she said.
Tremors still rocked through Nepal, Welch said, but she learned to be in tune with her surroundings to know when the next one was coming.