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Rowan residents experience earthquake and tsunami

Carmen Swindel of Long Ferry Road heard the news about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan around 7 a.m. today. She immediately thought of her son, Cpl. John Swindel who is stationed on Okinawa with the U.S. Marine Corps.
She knew she couldn’t get in touch with her son because he’d been in training for several days.
“I?was just hoping and praying the Lord would have John call, and he did,” she said.
John Swindel called his parents, Carmen and Larry, around 8:30 a.m. — 10:30 p.m. in Japan — to say that he and everyone in his unit were OK.
Even though the earthquake hit hardest on the northeastern coast of Japan and Okinawa is about 400 miles south of the nation’s main island, John Swindel told his mother Marines on his base “were aware it was happening. … It just shook up their base.”
Around noon, Carmen Swindel was still waiting to hear from her daughter, Gaile Armstrong, who lives on the northern California coast with her husband, William Armstrong, a chief in the U.S. Coast Guard.
“I imagine he’s very busy right now,”?Carmen Swindel said.
• • •
When David Hood got home from work around 9 p.m. Thursday night, he turned his TV to news, as he always does. That’s when he learned of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
“It was just wall-to-wall coverage at 9 o’clock Hawaii time,” he said.
Hood, a 1986 graduate of North Hills Christian School and the son of Walter and Liz Hood, went to college at Chaminade University in Honolulu and stayed in Hawaii, where he works in construction and renovation.
When he heard about the disaster in Japan and the prediction that a tsunami was headed for the Hawaiian Islands, Hood started calling friends and watching the clock, awaiting the hour forecasters said the wave would hit the Pacific Ocean chain.
At 11 p.m., government officials began sounding sirens all over the island and police with bullhorns cruised the streets, advising residents and tourists in low-lying areas to seek higher ground. They closed highways near the ocean so drivers wouldn’t be swept away if a big wave hit and emergency vehicles would have clear access if they needed it.
“It was pretty spectacular,” Hood said of the preparation.
Hood lives in a valley away from the coast, so he stayed put. This morning, he heard the waves varied in height along the coastline and on individual islands. Waves up to nearly 7 feet have been reported, but they caused little damage.
“I?think that we probably fared very well,” Hood said. He recalled a similar tsunami warning last year that culminated in a 6-inch change in wave height. “We tend to be a bit on the cautious side.”
• • •
Rowan County resident Karrie Crowell’s brother, Capt. Lucas Crabtree, is stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Army. She got a text from her sister-in-law Friday saying everyone was fine. The couple and their daughters live in the mountains of Oahu.
“They did get back to us and everything’s OK,” Crowell said.
Even before she heard from her brother’s wife, Crowell was comforted that her brother and his family live away from the coast and that the tsunami was smaller than originally feared in Hawaii.
Waves about 3 feet high were recorded in Oahu and Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, and about 7 feet high on Maui. The waves caused no major damage in Hawaii, according to reports, but Crowell says her brother has probably been called out to help in the low-lying areas.

Read Saturday’s Salisbury Post for more on local residents’ experiences following the earthquake and tsunami.

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