A 29-year-old Fremont native who runs a business in Nepal is still in that far-away nation, helping to rebuild after the devastating earthquake late last month that claimed more than 7,000 lives.
Carson Cook, a 2004 graduate of Fremont High School, moved to Nepal last year to start a credit card call center. Cook says the 7.5 magnitude quake on April 25th was the first he’s ever experienced.
“The earthquake went on for like 30 seconds,” Cook says. “People were screaming. It was just super-intense. Our main concern was our office, our employees and what’s happened. Our office was six or seven miles away and we decided to walk. About half way through the trip, another earthquake hit, another big one.”
It was an experience he never wants to relive, like something out of a disaster movie.
“Four-, five-, six-story cement buildings were falling over,” Cook says. “The road was shaking. Basically, it looked like a wave. We spent the whole weekend working with our employees, working with the military, taking pictures, clearing rubble, helping pull dead or alive bodies out of buildings.”
Cook’s call center, StenCo Payments, employed 30 people in Kathmandu. Of those 30 workers, only 15 have been found. Most staff members lost their homes in the quake.
Back in Fremont, Cook’s mother, Julia, says anguish and worry filled several hours after the quake, knowing her son was likely there, in the middle of the destruction.
“Hearing about the earthquake and not knowing if he was alive or not for about nine hours,” Julia Cook says. “Then, he called from a satellite phone and said ‘I’m alive,’ and I started to cry and he said, ‘Don’t cry because everybody here is crying.’ He said, ‘Mom, there’s people around, all over, that didn’t make it.'”
Carson and his business partner, 25-year-old Briton Stender — also from Fremont, have established a fund to help the people they know in Nepal with medical and living expenses and to rebuild their homes. You can find it online at gofundme.com/stencosupport. The fund has already raised more than $5,000.
By Connie Green, KHUB, Fremont