I was exhausted last night. I never sleep well on my first night of vacation (which we spent at a hotel) and our first night at our rental place on the Oregon coast was filled with trying to adjust the heat (down)* and adjust to sleeping on a smaller bed than we are used to.** So, when the property manager called us on the house’s landline at 12:30, we were both dead asleep.
I am a coastal boy at heart though, so when the property manager said a tsunami was heading straight for us, I fully admit panicking a little, assuming we had minutes, not hours. Either way, by the time I woke up enough to comprehend the warning, I knew I wouldn’t be going back to sleep, even if my first suggestion was, “Ok, the wave is supposed to hit at 7? Let’s pack, go back to bed, and set the alarm for 5.”
Instead, like many of you, we sat glued to the (well, one of the four) TV for the next few hours, watching those horrible Japan videos over and over and some very good local news from Portland. At around 4:30 the reverse 911 call told us to get up and get out and at 5 the tsunami sirens went off with recorded “evacuate immediately” messages. Cop cars roamed the streets looking to wake folks up. Both Laurie and I went back and packed a few more items into the car. After being lulled by hours of TV, the sirens gave us another hit of adrenaline and off we went to find the tsunami shelter.
If we were locals, we probably never would have left. Or we at least would have gone back to sleep for a bit.
Indeed, the noticeable absence of lights and rush from the neighbors gave me pause at I packed the car at 4:45, but who was I – with no real, local knowledge of the area and decidedly in the tsunami inundation zone – to argue with the official warnings? It is my firm belief that tourists and non-locals should not cause hassles for the local volunteers and first responders by being stupid, so we left. But really we could have driven a quarter mile up the hill and waited it out with no danger to anyone. Of course the shelter — the local elementary school — did have bathrooms and coffee, and that was nice.
We drove back about 4 hours later, right before the official all-clear. By then Schnitzie couldn’t stop barking at the people walking their cats on leashes*** and half the parking lot had cleared out. We were cold and tired. When we got back , everything was just like we left it and – in the day light — less scary.
The waves were still a little big and ominous though, I was drifting in and out of sleep, still worried about being back just enough to start me awake every couple of minutes. Finally, someone on TV said that the tsunami warning was back down to an advisory and I drifted off to three hours of solid sleep.
So yeah, I’m fine. Laurie’s fine. Schnitzel’s fine. Not much really happened here.
Japan’s not fine though. Those were some pretty scary scenes…
*Central heating set at 68 degrees? I doubt there are a week of days where our apartment reaches 68. Central heat makes me think I’m in a convection oven.
**Everything else about this place is better than our apartment. We just sprung for a King bed a couple of years ago and it’s hard to go back.
*** no judgment