05/01/2015 01:00 EDT | Updated 08/10/2015 12:59 EDT

Kiah Ellis-Durity returns to B.C. after Nepal earthquake

Kiah Ellis-Durity was volunteering in Nepal  and getting ready to return home last Saturday when the earthquake that killed more than 5,500 people struck.

On Thursday she flew into Vancouver where excited family members met her at airport and heard her story.

Ellis-Durity recalls how she was in her Kathmandu hotel making preparations for home when she felt the earth move.

"My mind went blank," she said. "Ì thought am I going to die? And then I thought — no, no, no because I was in a pretty good location. I didn't realize how bad it was."

"When I saw all the destruction of what happened it made sense and it was scary," she said, adding that at the time no one knew what had happened and there was no way of getting news.

Ellis-Durity spent six hours in the hotel courtyard and then decided to walk to the village where she had been teaching English in a monastery.

Saw the destruction

"I  had to sleep outside for two nights and it was raining and thundering," she said. "Ìt was crazy and houses had fallen down with families in them. They were just completely gone."

The nuns at the monastery and the volunteer coordinator helped her through the ordeal and Ellis-Durity spent the last couple of days back in Kathmandu.

"It was just a ghost-town," she said. "I felt very bad because there were families in need that hadn`t been helped and I was just sitting there not really knowing what to do."

The earthquake destroyed many buildings and cut off road access to parts of the country. Canada's foreign affairs department said in an email Thursday that search and rescue efforts are ongoing and it's still too early to tell how many Canadians are missing.

Ellis-Durity said she wondered why she was so lucky when so many others weren't. She wanted to help in the aftermath but said there was little she could do at the time except listen to people who had been affected by the earthquake.

Now she wants to do more.

Wants to raise money to help

Kim Ellis-Durity, Kiah's mother, said her daughter had already spoken of raising money to help the Nepalese recover from the earthquake.

Shortly after landing at the airport the teenager also said she wanted to go back to Nepal to help.

"There's no question," she said. "I love it there. The people are so amazing and so giving."