Video: Tsunami fears

updated 9/23/2005 12:18:35 PM ET 2005-09-23T16:18:35

Your assignment: Do you live along the West Coast? If so, and you felt Tuesday's earthquake or heard the tsunami warning, tell us about your experience. Write your report on the space provided below. E-mail CJ@MSNBC.com if you want to send photos or video.

Your stories:

Great drill
I live in Gold Beach, Ore., and never felt the earthquake. Our house is about 1/4 mile from the beach, as is most of the town. We evacuated our house, grabbed the kids and the dogs and headed for higher ground. We just sat and watched the fire trucks and police go through the town with their sirens and loud speakers telling people to evacuate. I think they did a great job getting the word out to everyone. It was a relief to have nothing come of it, and we look at this as a great drill for our family.
--Amber Timm, Gold Beach, Ore.

Widespread panic
I was at a softball game when word came of a Tsunami warning. Being that I was already at the highest point that we could be, we were safe, but it was interesting that one of the teams I was watching was a team with many local Coast Guard members. I figured if they weren't being called to base, and they weren't freaking out, it can't be that bad. I was amazed, however, at the widespread panic that I saw in many people. That is one thing that will never help the situation. If I can give people one good word of advice, don't panic. All that does is create more confusion and add fuel to an already tense situation.
--Nicole Hansmeier, Warrenton, Ore.

Wake-up call
It was a wake up call. We live in Seaside, Ore., where we would be hit hard by a tsunami. We live just out of reach of what would be the area hit. I began filling everything I could with water when I heard the siren. I know that although we would not be hit, we would be with out power and water. I looked in my pantry and saw our 24-hour emergency kits, but I knew that was not enough food, payday was two days away and my cupboards where bare. WOW. I felt sick. My husband was out of town in Portland and I felt alone and frightened. I was so grateful when the warning stopped. I will be sure my cupboards are well stocked at all times. It will not only be our family, but many in low laying areas called and asked if they could stay in the safety of our home. I must prepare for not only my family, but other families.
--Kathleen Peterson, Seaside, Ore.

An experience to remember
I live in Crescent City, Calif.. My 4-year-old daughter and i were sitting watching TV and my husband was in another room. I felt this small vibration and thought it was our downstairs neighbors partying and then it got more violent so I grabbed my daughter and ran to a doorway and called to my husband and asked if it was an earthquake. He said, having grown up in Southern California, yes it was indeed an earthquake. After it stopped my daughter was upset because I grabbed her arm and hurt her in my haste to keep us safe. My Mom called from Salem, Ore.,  and I told her we had just had an earthquake and we talked a little then hung up. A few seconds later the Tsunami siren went off. My neighbors started going ballistic. My husband stayed calm the whole time. I wanted to do something, so we drove to my sister's house. A little while later the warning was turned into a bulletin then called off. It is an experience to remember to grand children.
--Jaime Davis, Crescent City, Calif.

Impressed by reaction
I am nineteen years old and have only been living in Crescent City, Calif., about a month.  When the earthquake occurred last night, I was walking across the kitchen and did not feel it.  I was watching TV with my mom, and the dogs had suddenly started barking, when my mom said, "I think we're having an earthquake.  Yeah, look at the lights."  The kitchen lights, which hang down from the ceiling on poles, had begun swaying very gently.

After the shaking, my brother and his friend arrived and immediately began searching for news on the quake on the internet.  While they were searching, my brother's friend's cell phone rang.  Nobody was on the other end, although he could hear people talking and long, wailing sirens.  Immediately, we all went into my mom's room and listened for the sirens.  Sure enough, we could just barely hear a voice saying, "Get to higher ground now."

As we have only lived in the area a short time (my family moved here in January), we were unsure as to what we were supposed to do.  Several people have told us that, in the case of a tsunami, we would be safe, as we live a few blocks from the beach on cliffs about sixty feet high.  My mom and I decided, however, that it would be best to leave our house, just in case.  We called my brother, who had already left to take his friend home, and told him to stay there and keep his cell phone on.  After getting our shoes on, we got the dogs in the car and left.

At first, it seemed that everybody had either left or gone inside their homes.  Some people were standing in groups on front lawns and watching the ocean, while sheriffs patrolled the street.

When we got to U.S. 101, it became clear that many people had evacuated their homes.  It seemed that all the law enforcement and emergency officials were on the street.  As we drove up 101, we called family members who live in Southern California, telling them that we were okay and were getting to higher ground.

Before we got a mile from where we got on the highway, the all-clear was given and we went home.

I was truly impressed by how quickly everybody responded to the tsunami warning.  The Del Norte County Sheriff's, California Highway Patrol, and Crescent City Police, as well as the fire department, were all perfectly coordinated.  Their organization, I believe, helped to prevent a panic among the people in the area.  I applaud these agencies, as well as the citizens
and visitors to Crescent City, in their handling of this situation.
--Kristyn Castaneda, Crescent City, Calif.


Scrambling in Crescent City
We were sitting at a Police Chief's meeting in the Crescent City Cultural Center located on Front street when I felt the earthquake. The lights inside were moving and the Chief told everyone to go outside. We left and drove home to W. 7th Street. Most phone lines were not working. I was able to call my daughter who was working at the Contra Costa Dispatch Center and she told me about the Tsunami warning. I couldn't get through to my parents who live on 3rd street, so I started walking to their house to let them know. Two blocks from my house the Tsunami siren went off so I turned around and ran home with my dog. I was able to get through to my parents by cell phone, they were leaving their home to go to my brothers house. My husband and I each drove a car and tried to get out of town. It was chaos, people speeding and trying to get out of town. I passed an accident and looked to make sure they were ok. I was on the phone with a friend from Antioch who had been looking at the weather on the Internet and saw the warning. He told me the warning was cancelled. Traffic was so backed up, it would have taken us at least an hour to drive a 10 minute route, so my husband and I turned around and went home. The Police cars were still going by our house telling us to head to higher ground. We are out of the evacuation route by two blocks. We live a block from the ocean and sit up high. Even though they test the siren once a month, it still scares me. I was born and raised here and remember as an 8 year old in 1964 the devastation that happened in our town. Several times as a child we were evacuated. I listened to the local radio stations who let people call in and talk about the earthquake and I finally fell asleep at 11:00 pm.
-- Beth Enea, Crescent City, Calif

Evacuating passengers
I'm in Ucluelet, B.C. When the tsunami warning went off I was at work at the Canadian Princess Fishing Resort. I was doing night laundry/housekeeping duties. My work partner called me out of the bottom of the ship where the laundry room is and we had to evacuate. We also got stopped to evacuate all the guests on the ship. It was pretty scary as my hands were shaky trying to read the lists of rooms that were occupied. Knocking on doors evacuating guests while the only thing on my mind was my children who were at home. My daughter, who is 13, was watching her brother who is 5, and they were 10 to 15 minutes away from where I worked. And there I was, so it seemed, wasting my time evacuating guests that I probably may never see again in my life. I was a wreck. I just wanted to go home. Then the man who seemed to be in charge asked me and my partner if we shut everything off, we had to go back in to shut the dryers and lights and everything off. It was so scary. I kept looking at my partner, who is also my niece, and I just wanted to hug her because she had three little children at home all under the age of five. The evacuation process could have been better, as everyone didn't seem to know where the place was to all meet or go. Right now I'm scared to let my children go to school, as it is 10 minutes away. Last night they weren't letting traffic go into the town of Ucluelet. My son's father's family wants him and my son to move to Boston Bar on the mainland. I'll never leave home, and I wouldn't let my son move away either. I just pray and hope there won't be a tsunami. I'm just going to be more prepared now. I got a list off the internet of what to pack in case of a natural disaster. I think it really eased my mind, because I was up until 3 or 3:30 this morning with a million things on my mind.
-- Madeline Ann George, Ucluelet, B.C., Canada

A memorable birthday
My family and I were just about to the singing after a restaurant dinner for my sister's birthday when the phone rang with a friend hastily explaining the Tsunami warning to my cousin. She in turn quickly told us with wide eyes that "the emergency broadcast thingy" had gone off, interrupting all TV and giving coastal residents in my area "20 minutes to get to high ground." At first I really couldn't believe it -- then you could see word spreading around the restaurant as more and more people pulled out their cell phones and paced back and forth from their tables to the TV in the bar. Soon people started to leave rather hurriedly and everyone got even more nervous. My sister's boyfriend who suffers from sudden panic attacks -- had one for the first time in many months. As my parents decided my sister and I and the other family at the table should go to their house (safely several hundred feet up into the mountains) I went to make sure my sister's boyfriend was ok -- I found him hovering over the sink, rinsing out his mouth. It was about then that we started hearing the size and location of the culprit quake. At that time they were calling it a 6.4 (not 7) and identified its location up near Crescent City. Immediately I thought of the Asian tsunami and its 9.something magnitude -- much, much bigger than a 6.4. I was pretty sure this was just a case of some jittery nerves after all the pictures last Christmas but no one wanted to take any chances. It was just as we paid our bill (and even took the obligatory birthday Polaroid) that word spread they had cancelled the warning. Still slightly on edge everyone got into their separate cars and went home a little more excited than they arrived -- and I stopped to check out the surf along the way.
--Casey Noland, Aptos, Calif.

A different perspective
I had just gotten off a plane to Nevada when my phone started blowing up. I work for Marriott ExecuStay Insurance Housing Solutions (we find temporary housing for families displaced due to catastrophes). I had insurance adjusters from Allstate, State Farm and Safeco calling me making sure we had someone on call. For an industry that gets so much negative press about bad service, I was surprised at how many adjusters were being proactive ... only minutes after the warning was announced. It made me feel great about the industry and proved a real concern for public safety.
--Melanie Vandevanter, Mountain House, California

One inch rise
Driving south on Hwy 101 on the Oregon coast between Florence and Coos Bay, I was turned around by a police roadblock. The officers present warned of a possible tsunami. Since I was at a spot approximately one mile from the actual ocean shore, I was a bit miffed and skeptical. But, I turned around anyway. When I returned to my residence in Florence, I telephoned the local office of Oregon State Police and was told that buoys off the coast recorded a one-inch rise in seas and that the tsunami warning had been cancelled.
--Vince LaRocco, Florence, Ore.

Bringing back memories
I was on my way back from Shasta. I did not know till my husband called and told me of the warnings on the radio. It scared me because it brought back memories of the 1964 tsunami. I lived in Crescent City, Calif. I was 4 years old at the time. It was very scary! We lived only a block from the beach. The sirens kept sounding, and no one knew what was going on. We were very lucky! I also remember a bunch of whales beaching themselves on shore by the lighthouse.
--Devvi Silva, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Overloaded phone circuits
I live in Oceanside, Ca, which is north county of San Diego.Our area was given a tsunami warning until 10:30. Our local weatherman told us there was very little chance of any problem, because of the type of earthquake. It was very difficult to make any telephone calls, overloaded circuits.
--Diana Barsalou, Oceanside, Calif.

'The strongest one we had ever been in'
My husband, 21 year old daughter and I were eating dinner when we felt the floor rolling, the table started shaking, we heard a terrible rumbling and all the windows in the house rattled. We all looked at each other and realized we were having an earthquake. It definitely was the strongest one we have ever been in. The animals were definitely a little rattled also. Having lived here when the 1964 tsunami hit just 27 miles south of here, we knew what could happen. I called my married daughter to see where she was. She and her husband and baby were walking along the docks at the local port. They did not feel it, but when I told her what just happened, she looked at the boats and water. The boats were just beginning to rock from side to side. No other boats were moving in the area. She said it was very, very strange looking. They immediately left for higher ground. Luckily we live about 500 feet above sea level, so we stayed put and watched the news unfold on TV. We are very thankful there were no injuries in our area. We did call our third daughter in Japan to let her know that we were fine, knowing that she might hear about it on the news. She and her husband, who is in the U.S. Navy, have felt several in the last year and a half that they have been in Japan and it is usually her calling us to let us know that she is OK.
--Ardith McVay, Brookings, Ore.

'Welcome to California'
When the quake hit, I was at Arcata City Hall, chairing a meeting of our City Planning Commission. The meeting was being televised live throughout Humboldt County via our community access television. There were approximately 30 people at City Hall when we felt the first jolt. The building shook, and a number of citizens immediately ran from City Hall. Through windows at the back of building, I could see the lights swaying in our local ballpark where the two local teams were playing night baseball. As the quake hit, people immediately said "it's an earthquake!" I leaned into the microphone and commented "we're having some unexpected testimony tonight from mother nature." When the quake continued, I briefly thought to evacuate the room. However, having been born and raised in San Francisco, I decided to give it a little more time and see if the tremors lessened. They did. Leaning back into the microphone, I called the meeting back to order with "Welcome to California".
--John Graves, Arcata, Calif.

Pandemonium in San Diego
I'm from San Diego and I heard the tsunami warning. We were calling friends and loved ones that live near the beaches about the tsunami. And actually the tsunami was called off at around 9:30 p.m. approximately. Not minutes after like articles claim. Unfortunately people were scared and some were evacuating. The freeways were completely full of cars trying to head away from the ocean. It looked like pandemonium. In addition, there was rain to top it off. All in all it was a shock to have come so close to getting a tsunami but I'm glad it didn't happen. I'm also glad I'm alive. Peace out.
--Brenda Naranjo, San Diego, Calif.

'A price worth paying'
I live on the second floor of a 120-year-old former hotel in "Old Town" on Eureka's waterfront. The quake didn't shake heavily, but the shaking seemed much longer than any quake I've experienced before. I began to get concerned about that, wondering if this was just light shaking before "the big one" hit. That is always a thought when a quake hits here anyway, as the media keeps reminding us that "The Big One" is coming eventually. We didn't worry much about the tsunami watch after the first 30 minutes, but I spent an hour or so on the phone calming my sister, who lives a block closer to Humboldt Bay. I told her that if a tsunami had been coming it would have hit already. I don't know if that is correct or not. I'll have to research it. I've lived in CA for many years, been in many quakes, including the three of this size in one day that hit back in the 90s, and every one shakes me up emotionally as well as physically. But it is a price worth paying to live in this glorious part of the world.
--Diana Ward, Eureka, Calif.

Lack of information
I was lying in bed, next to my baby- when we felt the quake. It felt very slow and rolling -- not jarring, and less intense than others we've had in the area in the recent past (with less magnitude). My husband and I were struck by the lack of information aired about what we should be doing. There was a Tsunami warning issued that kept circling on the major TV stations, with NO instructions and no explanation about what a "warning" actually meant. One local station had a small window appear on screen with a local newscaster saying that a small Tsunami HAD been recorded by instruments, and that the station would provide more details in 2-3 minutes. No one returned with more information! We just figured that our town sirens would blare if we needed to leave. We were very disappointed in the public information, given the recent disaster in the Pacific Rim.
--Kathy Jack Lambert, Arcata, CA

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