I want to say thank you to all who hung in with me, on Facebook, as I went through the most surreal experience. (video/slide show can be seen here)
A usual evening of watching some tivo’d shows when my son Tyler calls to alert me of the earthquake in Japan. We switched to CNN and hoped onto Facebook to find the most horrible live images of a tsunami overtaking Japan. It was hard to believe that these images were real. Burning building being carried along by the water. A fast and steady roll of buildings, ships, cars and debris rolling over the farms. It was terrifying and tears were streaming down my face.I had to turn it off because I couldn’t take anymore…. my stomach was hurting with sadness and worry.
That Japanese earthquake means a chance of tsumani here in Florence. We have been on tsunami watch before, but we watch the internet status sites and they go away without incident. This time was different. I watched the status indicator go from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. By now I’m searching online for any info of what to expect and I’m reading that by the time it hits us, it will have dissapted and be ok. It should be arriving by 7:13 to 7:30am, so I set my alarm for 5am and head to bed with my blackberry. I didn’t get any sleep because I kept in touch with my fabulous facebook peeps on my blackberry, so I decided to get up and check the status on my computer again.
That’s when it went downhill. The phone rang with the emergency evacuation message. Oh – we have never had that before. Then an instant later the tsunami sirens sounded. These sirens go off for testing once a month, on the last Friday of the month, at precicely 11am. Then they quickly followed by the ‘all clear’ siren song. Not this time. It was 3am and they sirens just kept going. I woke up my husband and said “holy crap Pat, we just got a call to evacuate.” We turned on the local news as we dressed and it confirmed the expected time and said our area might get a 3 foot rush of water. Our coastal town has a river that runs through it, so 3 feet, along with the high tide could mess up our cute shops in old town. After seeing a steady stream of cars leaving, and our neighbors heading out too, we decided it was time.
We drove up the coast to where it climbs to cliffs overlooking the ocean and sand dunes that our town is built upon. It was pitch black as we snuggled under blankets in the car, waiting for the tsunami to come.
Finally the sun rose and as it did, the cars starting pulling in beside. Even the news truck pulled in behind the car. I wasn’t sure what I was going to see, but my eyes were fixed on the ocean. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, as time ticked on from 7am to 7:30 to finally 8:30. I shot video of the sand, the surf, and the Coast Guard helicopter that flew back and forth, reading the situation. After freezing our butts of, we decided to come home, as it looked all is going to stay well, thank God.
This was such a HUGE wake-up call of where we live. Right smack in the middle of a tsunami zone. The signs are posted everywhere and it’s something that I guess I have become desensitized to it (after my initial obsession with it years back ago). Well this morning’s evacuation really put it in my front of my mind again. Time to rebuild our emergency kit that we had dismantled over time, and never replenished.
I would have never been able to get through this ordeal without the connection to my Facebook friends who stuck with me through the whole thing via my wall, messages, texts, etc. We’ve connected through our love for art or those damn addicting Zynga games, but there you were – holding my hand through the whole thing. Now I’m holding you all dear in my heart. And thanks to my Mom who hung on by the phone with me, like a trooper.