Many people from our area are visiting or living in Japan. Some have already made contact with family and friends here at home to say they're okay. Others haven't been heard from, like the son of the chief of staff at Swedish Medical Center.
Dr. Todd Strumwasser and his wife haven't heard from their son and they are worried. All day today, the couple from Mercer Island have been in front of the TV, searching for information on line, and waiting for their son to call.
"He's a very kind hearted wonderful man,” says Kim Strumwasser, his mother.“And I just try picture him trying to take care of the kids and that they're all okay.”
27 year old Aaron Strumwasser teaches English in the port city of Sendai, one of the hardest hit in Japan. The death toll in that city alone already up to three hundred.
"I think he's about 5 or 6 miles inland so we're hoping that the tsunami didn't actually hit where he is,” says Dr. Strumwasser.
Mike Weed, of Pullman, flew from Seattle to Tokyo yesterday.The quake hit just before his flight landed. He emailed KING 5 video of a temporary refugee camp at Yokota Air Force Base where all the passengers are staying for now.
Jodi Bourgeois is a University of Washington tsunami expert who coincidentally is in Sapporo, Japan working with fellow researchers.
She says the quake lasted almost three minutes.
"The room was moving I started to feel kinda seasick,” says Bourgeois. She's visited the same farmland seen repeatedly in TV news footage overtaken by the tsunami.
Her heart sank watching it all unfold.
“You start yelling at people on t.v. telling them to run, because you are watching it live, you wish you could stop it somehow,” she says.
The UW professor says what's happened in Japan has great implications.
"Japan is the most prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis in the world,” she says.“But you can see that the earth is more powerful than we are.”