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Area couple in HI spared by tsunami

March 12, 2011


For Stacy Mastrolia and Martin Ellis, who grew up in Columbus, Thursday night started off rather peacefully. The couple is vacationing on the island of Lanai in Hawaii and were alerted to the tsunami warnings after returning home from dinner that night.
Ellis is the brother of Mississippi State University campus radio station WMSV station manager Steve Ellis.
As the situation progressed, they realized there was no guarantee of having power or internet access. Not wanting family or friends to worry, they sent out emails updates as often as they could.
“When you wake up, you will realize that we are in a tsunami warning zone due to the earthquake in Japan,” they wrote in the first update sent out to family members in Columbus. “We will be in touch when we can.”
As the night wore on in Hawaii, they said the hotel staff had prepared them with bottled water and instructions on what to do if evacuation became necessary.
“The staff left hourly voicemails giving updates on the situation,” Mastrolia said. “It was orderly; surprisingly orderly for the fact that I’m looking at Japan getting flattened out, and you’re telling me that wave is coming here.”
Despite being in the middle of it all, they got much of their coverage from the major news networks like everyone else on the mainland.
“The oddest thing for me, because there are no street lights here, it’s pitch dark, and you can hear the ocean rage, but you can’t see a thing,” Mastrolia said. “The waves sounded like a freight train.”
The hotel where Ellis and Mastrolia are located was never asked to evacuate. That area of the island only received waves about three feet high. Later in the morning, all the warnings were lifted and beaches were reopened.

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