Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 11, 2011 - Tsunami Warning

At about 6:15PM local time, I got an email from our mission office that a Tsunami warning had been issued for the entire Pacific Basin, due to a massive M8.9 earthquake in Japan. As you can see from some of the previous pictures I have posted, many of the buildings, and villages in Yap are near the water.

We immediately called the younger Missionaries and learned that they were watching news of the earthquake and its resulting tsunami on TV at the Telecom office.  We suggested they continue to do that for awhile, as it was not expected to hit the area for at least another hour, so they could keep us updated.

I called the Branch Presidents, and anyone we knew who lived in low-lying areas, and then hopped into the truck to check on a few people we couldn't reach by phone. I stopped a few times to warn a few people who were walking or jogging around the lagoon and probably hadn't heard of the impending danger.

As I checked on local stores, most knew about the tsunami warning, but seemed unconcerned. Actually, as I approached some of the people that I had come to warn, I was given polite smiles, and heard a few chuckles as I departed. The locals obviously had a sixth sense about this, because sure enough, as has happened twice before since we've been here... nothing... 

Not complaining... definitely the better outcome. It was a non-event for this little island. On the other hand, the outer islands of Yap which range as far as 800 miles away, are much smaller, much flatter, much more susceptible to being swept over by a large Tsunami. I haven't heard any news of them, but am sure I would have if they had been hit.

So for my friends back home -- we are fine, unaffected actually. Life goes on as normal. As for the bits of news feeds we have seen of the destruction in Japan, our hearts go out to them, and to the families back home affected by the destruction. We know there is still danger with the nuclear reactors, and pray that they are able to be contained and a third disaster avoided.


  1. Thank you very much for your informations about Tsunami effects in State of Yap. I stayed on outer island Faraulep Atoll and also visited several other islands i 1986, and later on published a book about the people on the outer islands. I have many very good friends there, so I would very much like to be informed if you get any informations from the outer islands.

    All the best from
    Peter Bang,
    Adress: Vesterskovvej 30,
    4793 Bogø,
    DENMARK / Europe.

    1. My name is Kathy and I live on Guam. I just recently came back from the island of Faraulep after 2 years of staying there, While I was there my family told me stories about Peter Bang and the book he wrote about the island. I was wondering if i could get the title of your book so i could use it as future project and etc. But you left a huge memory with my mom Mathelena and grandma Mariana.

  2. Peter,

    As far as I have been able to determine, pretty much all of Micronesia was mercifully skipped over by the tsunami. I have seen Doppler displays showing the dispersion of the waves, and we simply were not in the path of the larger swells. We were also blessed by the fact that it was low tide at the time.

    I have friends from the Philippines, living on Majuro on the Marshall Islands who reported the following to me a few minutes ago:

    "It was frightening. Majuro is a flat island! My husband was in a meeting about emergency preparedness when one of the senior missionaries informed everyone of the tsunami warning and the meeting was broken up. That's how we learned the seriousness of it. There was of course CNN but there was no warning from the government! Actually, people were on the seashore watching... maybe waiting ... for it to come, and kids were taking a swim! So we moved to a higher place (in a 3-story building) and went back home at around 3am. We are all safe and we are glad everybody is safe out there in Yap and also in the Philippines."

    I have heard no reports from any of our outer-island friends, (and we have lots) or any of the other Micronesian Islands of any problems at all, except that a couple of US Submarines broke away from their moorings in Guam and had to be secured by tugboats to avoid being damaged.

    Outside Japan, I believe the worst hit areas have been along the coast of California and Oregon,, and some damage on the Hawaiian Islands.

  3. Dear Leigh,
    Thank you so much for for keeping me informed. I´m very happy to read that the tsunami skipped the paradise of Micronesia. If not, I´m affraid, all the people on the islands would be dead now.
    Best regards from
    Peter Bang

  4. And please...If you ever meet/talk to any people from Faraulep Atoll (one of the very flat outer island of State of Yap, aprox. 500 kilometers to the east of Yap) please send my best regards them all, especially the family of Pius Mopiy - I wrote a childrens book about his son Sepriano - in 1986 Sepriano was aprox. 9-10 years old.

    Peter Bang

    1. I saw the books, after all these years, its still in Good condition.

  5. Thank so much for this information! I stayed on Ifaluk atoll (an outer island of Yap) a few years ago for volunteer teaching, and as soon as I heard of the Japanese tsunam, my prayers rang out for small, so flat, so many friends there. If anyone hears from the family of Bernard (a teacher there), tell them Rick Jordan says hello!!Glad to hear it missed them!