The worst was the tsunami, Marrs said. It was a towering wall of water that destroyed several villages including Sendai, about a four-hour drive away, where hundreds of bodies were discovered, he said.
“Some people were panicking and screaming in Japanese, which I don’t speak,” said Marrs, who was still in Japan on Monday afternoon (Pacific time).
“I’m nervous about the nuclear power plants. That’s something you don’t know, if you’ve been exposed to radiation, but I highly doubt that,” he said.
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An explosion occurred at a plant 200 miles away that released some vapor but workers are cooling down the nuclear reactor core and the situation is under control, according to the U.S. Navy, Marrs said. He is visiting his sister Vanessa, who has lived in Japan for two years with her husband, a U.S. Navy serviceman and their two daughters.
Marrs was due to leave Japan about 12 hours after speaking with the Imperial Valley Press.
Some of the Disney attractions began to sway but none came crashing down, Marrs said. Planning to meet up with Vanessa and her family, they found each other minutes after the quake and were stranded at the park for seven hours.
“There’s quite a culture change here,” Marrs said. “After the quake Disney’s people gave us raincoats and drinking water. But in a disaster like that in L.A., some might take advantage.”
Marrs and his sister’s family found shelter at a Sheraton Hotel a mile away where they stayed two nights because trains were not running to take them back to their home in Yokosuka. But unlike Disney, which helped victims, Sheraton donated nothing and charged full rates for rooms without running water, “so shame on Sheraton,” he said.
Frequent yet small aftershocks raise jitters, Marrs said. But if his family has to be an in Japan, Yokosuka is probably one of the most secure because of the U.S. Navy facility. Once back at his sister’s home, they found all utilities running but Japan is rationing gas, he said.
Most of the military families are staying put, stocking up on supplies from the Navy commissary and following news on CNN, he said. The network interviewed him and viewers can watch it at: www.cnn.com
The Easter quake in Imperial was scarier with glass breaking, but the devastation in Japan is much worse, Marrs said. Early today he is taking a flight to Los Angeles, where his parents will meet him, he said.
“When I get back home I’m going to eat some Mexican food at El Zarape,” Marrs said. “I’m a little homesick and look forward to seeing all my friends and family.”
Marrs appeals to Americans to make donations to the Red Cross. Most needed are instant and baby food, blankets, clothing and diapers.
Staff Writer William Roller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org