Friday, March 11, 2011

Near heart attack at the crack of dawn

Just past 4 am. My mother in law calls, waking us. I hear her voice over the phone as she tells McKay "Have you heard? A huge earthquake hit Japan and a tsunami warning is in effect for the Pacific...." Part of my brain was ready to turn back off and go back to sleep.

Wait for it.

...wait for it....

Que instant absolute panic. My sister is deployed in Japan. My mother, stepdad, and 2 1/2 year old niece are in Hawaii (living there), right in the path of an imminent tsunami.

I throw the blankets off and scramble to find my phone. Where is it? Where the HELL is my phone? McKay calls it. It's dead. I run through the house and find it downstairs. Dead. Where's the charger. I am racing around, I find the charger. I'm shaking violently. "Ashley. Calm down. Plug in your damn phone." Phone is plugged in and powering on. Laptop is waking from sleep.

News. News news news. Find the news. Can't find anything about the earthquake. Furious. Shaking. Tears streaming down my face. I'm angry with myself for deleting that voicemail that I got from Candace yesterday - what if..? No. I can't think that way.

Call Mom. No answer. More tears.

Call Mike. He answers. They are okay. He hasn't heard from Candace. I can hear tsunami sirens. The tsunami will hit soon. He will keep me posted.

I sign onto Skype to send Candace a message that I hope will reach her. I check facebook. No updates from her.

News reports. Finally. The images I'm seeing are horrendous. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake is the biggest ever in Japan's recorded history. It hit off the northeast coast of Japan near Sendai at 2:46 in the afternoon (local time). 44 reported dead and many missing.

Is my sister okay? What about the rest of the people at Kadena? What about the rest of Japan? What about the rest of the Pacific? I can't help but think the worst. What if that voicemail was the last thing...? I am bawling.

Queue that beautiful sound of Skype. Candace has signed on. I send her 5 messages in a 2 second span. She video calls me. I see her face. She is speaking. I start crying even more. I am so relieved. She is okay, as is everyone else at Kadena. She asks if I've spoken with our Mother. She is concerned about the tsunami heading toward Hawaii and our family. We speak for about five minutes and then she has to go.

I post an update on facebook. A family friend replies, saying "glad to know your sister is okay ..... that would be a hard thing to face" - an ENORMOUS understatement. I would have completely lost it.

I find a live newsfeed online covering the earthquake and resulting tsunamis. I am ever-so-grateful for modern technology. The images are devastating. Cars and buildings and massive debris are being tossed around like toys. Oil refineries burning out of control. Japan issues state of emergency at a nuclear plant where the cooling system has failed.

I continue watching/listening to the bbc newsfeed while a search for other reports. I have Fox news on the tv, but it's muted. I am appalled - they are reporting on Lindsay Lohan's court trial. Of all things. Really? Who cares about that or her right now?

People in Hawaii are evacuating the coast. The tsunami is supposed to hit in ten minutes. I am praying my little heart out. My family lives slightly inland and on a hill. They will more than likely be okay. The big worry is the sea ports and air ports. Damage caused by the tsunami could make it difficult for supplies to be delivered.

The death toll rises. The live newsfeed is playing as a type this. I keep hearing "Hawaii" and I get chills. My prayers and condolences go out to all of those affected and to all of those who are wondering if their loved ones are alright.

Reports say this is bigger than the earthquake that hit Chile last year. I was living in Hawaii at the time. We were scared. Listening to the news is just making me more upset. They are saying that this earthquake is stronger than the one in Chile, but this one hit closer to Hawaii. I can only imagine the pandemonium that must be unfolding in Hawaii. I was so scared when the tsunami warning was issued while I was there. I rushed to the store down the street to grab as much baby food and water as I could. People swarmed the streets and store isles.

Just heard that US military bases in Japan were unaffected. They are helping in whatever way(s) possible.

Still furious. A tsunami is about to hit Hawaii and Fox news is reporting about a garden expo in SLC....there is a small ticker running across the bottom of the screen reporting the REAL NEWS. Good job, Fox 13.

Just flipped through the channels (basic public television at our house) and found a news channel actually doing their job. KUDOS, abc 4 news!! They just reported that the waves to hit Hawaii are expected to only be 10-12 feet high.

Waves have started hitting Hawaii (Kauai). No damage.

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