Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake and Tsunami

First of all we feel so blessed to have so many friends and family who care about us. Thank you to everyone who called or tried to check in with us!
Yesterday was an awesome day up until around 4:00. I went to the gym with some of the girls I met here, we went out to lunch and had a lot of fun, then I came home to check on Boomer quickly before I headed on to the health clinic (side note: I have to have a ridiculous serious/number of shots in order to get my health card for my new job: Child and Youth Program Technician at the base Teen Center. Basically I will do some paperwork/spend time with the teens).
As I was talking with the occupational health administrator marines started evacuating the building. We actually had no idea what was going on, until a marine ran past the door and asked if we heard the announcement (we didnt) that there was a tsunami warning and that we had to evacuate to higher ground. There were some people literally running out of the building, which was kind of freaky, but once I got out to my car the base itself seemed pretty calm. I tried to call Turf and my call wouldn't go through (we later found out that our cell phone provider was down because of the quake in Japan).
I vaguely could hear the loudspeakers on base as I was driving back to our apartment, but I heard them say that floors 1-4 should evacuate higher than the tsunami flood line, which is right above our tower. At this point, I hadn't heard about the earthquake yet, and was thinking this was just a precaution and wasn't a real big deal. I was honestly planning on watching what other people in my building were doing, and if I didn't see many people evacuating I was going to stay home as long as I could. Smart, right?
When I pulled into the parking lot I saw Turf's car in the driveway and knew that it must be a little more serious than I had thought. He had been trying to call me and was upset because he thought I was still at lunch with the girls and wasn't answering my phone, so he had come home to pick up Boomer. We grabbed my car and drove up to a higher spot on base.
At this point, there was still about an hour before the tsunami was supposed to hit, so we ended up going to one of the other bases that sits higher up and farther inland to have dinner and watch a basketball game with a couple of the guys Turf works with. As we were driving up there, we noticed the Okinawan locals shopping leisurely, jogging, and just walking around town. We have always been told to gague our "panic level" on what the locals are doing, so I still wasn't too worried.
Around 9 we tried to come home and were told that we were still on a tsunami warning and couldn't go back to our apartment. We also found out that the waves that hit us were little ripples and nothing serious. We hung out around on base and found families sleeping with their children in cars and many of the single marines sleeping with blankets out in the field. Finally, around 11 we were able to go home. We spent about an hour unpacking our shipment of stuff that just got here before we headed to bed.
This morning we woke up and started watching the news, really for the first time about the disaster in Japan. We are seeing footage of the actual quake (so glad we didn't have to experience that, so sorry for those who did) and the tsunami wiping out houses and cars (again, so glad we did not have to go through that, totally terrifying). We are hearing about the death toll rising and the concerns about fires and the nuclear plant that was effected. We are very lucky to not have felt such a huge quake or experienced such a big tsunami. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Japan as things continue to unfold.

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