Northeast Mississippians learn relatives are safe from tsunami

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

A Tishomingo woman was relieved to hear that her granddaughter had been safely evacuated to a mountain near Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, early this morning as waves generated from a massive earthquake in Japan threatened the island.
“When I heard they were OK, I breathed a sigh of relief,” said Christine McAlister, after having recently spoken with her granddaughter, Traci McAlister, at 10:30 a.m. CST. That’s 5:30 a.m. on the island of Oahu, where Traci and her boyfriend moved eight months ago for work.
The Meridian couple were rousted from their home Thursday night by warning sirens and police evacuating their neighborhood. Along with many of their neighbors the couple began trekking up nearby Round Top Mountain ahead of waves that were expected to as bring as much as six feet of sea water onto land. At 4 a.m. the couple realized the waves weren’t coming, so they descended the mountain.
“We were really concerned, and we were praying for people in Japan because we saw the enormous damage there,” said Traci, who by late this morning had returned to work as a housekeeping supervisor at at beach-front hostel. They were still under advisory for the possibility of waves.
Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, Japan time, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake rocked Japan. That was late Thursday night here in Tupelo.
The earthquake was thought to be the largest in at least 100 years and Japanese authorities reported Friday that hundreds had been killed.
From Tupelo Mieko Kikuchi spoke with her family early this morning and, like McAlister, was relieved to hear they were safe. The Japanese liaison with Renasant Bank said her nephew in Tokyo had to evacuate school and, along with his mother and grandmother he sought safety from in a park.
Land line telephones were out of service, Kikuchi said, but she was able to speak with her relatives by cell phone.
The same was true for Kumiko Richardson, a banking specialist with BancorpSouth whose sister’s family lives in Tokyo, which is about 200 miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake.
Richardson said many of the Japanese who are here in Northeast Mississippi working with Toyota are from Toyota City, near the city of Nagoya, which is on the country’s western coast.
The earthquake and tsunami devastated the eastern coast.