Earthquake survivors who fled Japan return to Washington


by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

Posted on March 14, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 14 at 5:51 PM

SEA-TAC AIRPORT, Wash. -- The 72-hour period between Friday and Monday was both the worst and best of Cathy Webster's life.

The worst part came in the first 24 hours, following the earthquake and tsunamis that devastated Japan.  Webster's 26-year-old daughter, Carisa, was in Japan.  Webster could not reach her until late Friday.

"Nobody is really looking for your kid," she said.  "Everybody's just trying to get safe and you just want them to find your kid."

The best part of that 72-hour period came Monday afternoon when Carisa and a small group of friends returned to Washington.

"I just feel like a weight's been lifted," Webster said after embracing her daughter.

Carisa went to Japan last week to investigate the treatment of porpoises as part of Sea Shepherds, a sea mammal defense organization.

Scott West, who lead the group, embraced his wife and relatives after he returned home.

"It was more like a movie than reality," he said of the trip.

The group was on a harbor in Iwate Prefecture when the earthquake hit.  They moved to higher ground and watched the tsunami swallow the land below, including the place they were staying.

"We were there watching it, but you really couldn't believe it was happening," Carisa Webster said.  "Totally unreal."

Leaving Japan behind did not feel fair, West said, but he is glad to be home.

Cathy Webster is glad, too.

"The best day of my life right now, knowing that Carisa is back and safe," she said.