Witnessing the Quake, Tsunami Firsthand - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Witnessing the Quake, Tsunami Firsthand

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Arianna Bennett
Channel 2 News

Friday we made contact with some locals now living in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunamis, to hear what they have witnessed in the last 24 hours.

Many people in those coastal regions said the mood is very reserved and very tense. Those actually in Japan, and those here in the US said it was a surreal thing to experience an earthquake like that, and not something that is easy to get over.

"The truth is I am still a little bit shaky from the whole situation," Reno native Sean Connolly said in a phone interview from Japan. "It has gotten to the point where I can't tell if it's an aftershock, or if it's just me shaking."

Connolly lives in Odawara, Japan--about 300 miles southwest of the epicenter of the earthquake. He said when the 8.9 magnitude quake struck outside Japan, it left people world-wide physically and emotionally shaken.

"All the emotions of fear and what-ifs came after I was safe," Connolly said, "and my brain just processed it. That's when I started to realize that it was really happening."

The earthquake, combined with the massive tsunami it caused, brought widespread destruction to some of Japan's coastal towns.

"Some older buildings, or places that didn't have things really securely fastened down, have just been annihilated," Connolly said.

The quake caused a ripple effect in the Pacific, making waves that carried across the ocean and even hit close to home.

"When I heard there was a tsunami coming first thing this morning," former Reno resident Janis Higginbotham said in a phone interview from Monterey, California, "you just visualize the devastation and your heart pounds."

Californians braced for a tsunami Friday, and when it hit, cities along the coast saw docks breaking and boats crashing into each other. Some Californians, like commercial fisherman George Bradshaw, had to act fast to save their boats.

We caught up with Bradshaw, talking from his satellite phone while taking his boat to deeper waters.

"It's bad," Bradshaw said. "The harbor is destroyed. I was told that the last set of waves or surges actually flooded up the entire harbor area."

And although the worst of it may be behind us, Connolly said he doesn't expect recovery to be a quick process.

"I think it is definitely going to take a little while for everyone to be fully mentally past such a traumatic experience," Connolly said.

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