Hawaii residents who were in Japan for massive quake return home

Mieko Iinuma
Mieko Iinuma
Valerie Iinuma
Valerie Iinuma
Tammy Savini
Tammy Savini
Masato and Keiko Akeda
Masato and Keiko Akeda

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Hawaii residents who were in Japan at the time of the earthquake returned home and shared their experiences Sunday.

Mieko Iinuma of Honolulu waited anxiously for her daughter's flight from Japan.

"I'm one of the few lucky ones that I get to have my family back," she said.

Her daughter, Valerie, was visiting Tokyo, when the massive earthquake struck Thursday.

"Just kind of fear of unknown," Iinuma said. "I wanted to know where she's at. Not knowing, unable to contact her because all the phone line was down."

But all that worry melted away with the one hug she waited three days to give.

Valerie was walking from a museum to the Kichijoji Station in Tokyo, when the rumbling began.

"I just started to notice that the tree was swaying, but I didn't feel any wind," Valerie Iinuma said. "I didn't feel any movement yet, so I thought this is kind of weird. Then, within a few seconds, I started to feel the ground move under me."

Tammy Savini of Halau Na Mamo O Tulipa of Waianae was also in Tokyo, when she went through an experience she'll never forget.

"That shake was unreal," Savini said. "It was like trippy, like you was dreaming because you wouldn't think buildings would be waving like that."

She says it was heart-breaking watching video of coastal towns being wiped out by the tsunami.

"Couldn't believe the water could just sweep in like that -- cars, trucks," Savini said. "I was glad I wasn't in that area, but was so sad for those people."

Also on Valerie and Tammy's flight were newlyweds Masato and Keiko Akeda of Tokyo. Masato was working when the ground began to rock.

"All of our merchandise came crashing off the shelves," he said through an interpreter. "We had many customers and they were panicking. We did our best to calm them down."

Keiko says being on her honeymoon in Hawaii will be difficult as her country works to recover.

"In my heart, I can't enjoy it," she said through an interpreter. "But we need to be strong and face what's ahead for the sake of Japan."

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