Nacogdoches County woman describes being in Japan earthquake

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

DOUGLASS, TX (KTRE)- Amanda Kelly Walsh comfortably rocks her three month old baby boy and recalls what everyone asks first, 'What did the earthquake feel like?'."

"It was the strangest feeling to be standing on solid ground, but it felt like you were standing on a boat in the ocean the way it was rocking," described Walsh from her parent's Douglass home. "And you just felt helpless when it's happening because there is absolutely nothing you can do about it."

One can't even imagine what 2 year old Hailee and three year old Grace were thinking as the ground shook beneath them.

"Grace kinda almost fell over during one of the vibrations and she just kinda looked at me and was really confused, like she didn't understand what was going on," recalled Walsh.

Amanda remained upbeat through aftershocks, blackouts and uncertainty. Then a deep concern set in.

"It wasn't until the word about the radiation and how the nuclear plant had been damaged that we actually started getting worried that something worse was going to happen. If it was just me, I would have stayed until a mandatory evacuation, but I had to get the kids out for their safety."

Amanda and the children had to wait 48 hours for their passage to the states.

"The hurry up and wait. That was the hardest part," said Walsh. "You get ready, we packed. We had everything ready the night they first said there was going to be a voluntary evacuation and they tell everybody to slow down and wait. Now it's gonna be a couple days before you leave."

Finally, on Monday they boarded the plane for, "Texas. We're gonna go to Texas. Grandma and papa," said Hailee.

Justin, a naval security officer, remains behind to aid in the recovery effort. "I miss Daddy," said Hailee sweetly, as she and her sister pensively looked at their father's photograph.

For now two awesome uncles and a grandpa will fill the void. As of yet, diapering isn't on the duty list.

"No they haven't done that yet," laughed Walsh. "Grandma's done that, but the boys haven't done that."

Amanda is the daughter of Nacogdoches assistant police chief mike Kelly and educator, Marie Kelly. Amanda and the children will be with them for at least 30 days, perhaps longer. Amanda and Justin wait for the military to decide about possible mandatory evacuations.

After a week of being cooped up inside, the girls are enjoying the great outdoors.

"We played outside all day yesterday. We're gonna do some fun activities," promised Walsh to her girls.

And every day there'll be a prayer for their Daddy and the blessing of home sweet home.

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