Today marks 10 years since a magnitude nine earthquake rocked Japan triggering a massive and deadly tsunami.
Two Nanaimo women were among those who narrowly escaped and one of them, Marley Daviduk, says it was a terrifying experience.
One, now a Duncan resident, says the earthquake was so strong that she had to hold onto cars to stay standing.
The tsunami escapee was in Japan with a group of environmental activists when the earthquake struck and they quickly decided to go to higher ground.
“We immediately started driving and we were passing a lot of people who were taking their time. Elderly people that were mustering at their worksites and less than a minute after we went through the tsunami walls and up a hill the water breached the walls,” said Daviduk.
The decision saved their lives.
From the group’s vantage point, they watched in terror as the tsunami killed thousands in the town of Otsuchi.
“It [the water] overtook the tsunami walls and went into the town and sucked back and brought the whole town with it, houses, cars were floating and then it came back as a wave. You could hear houses and cars crumpling together.”
Then, because the roads were cut off, they had to leave their rental cars and walk for a day through what Daviduk describes as a war zone to reach a road out.
“A generous woman who had lost everything offered to drive us 45 minutes to our hotel and she wouldn’t accept any money. She was just happy to help and I’ll always remember her generosity.”
Daviduk hopes Canadians would react to a similar disaster as kindly and generously as the Japanese did during this monumental event.
Along with the imagery of the natural disaster emblazoned in her mind and the impact of generosity from the Japanese, Daviduk says the experience has altered her level of awareness when she is close to the ocean.
“Whenever I’m near the water I just always have an escape route and it’s always in my mind. You’ve got to be able to get out of the way quickly.”
The Vancouver Island resident says the event also underscored the need to be prepared for an emergency.
Find a BC Provincial checklist for disaster planning here.
READ MORE: Japanese sea creatures hitch a ride to west coast after 2011 tsunami